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Jorge Masvidal has been nominated alongside Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight champ Israel Adesanya as the standout fighter in 2019, although current 170-pound champ Kamaru Usman says he is unimpressed with Masvidal’s meteoric rise and believes he’s still the same fighter he’s always been and his wins are a result of the calibre of fighters the UFC have put in front of him.
Few would have predicted the 35-year-old Masvidal would have made the impact he had this year by stringing together consecutive knockouts over Darren Till and Ben Askren, with the latter setting the promotional record for the fastest knockout in history.
Masvidal then backed up those wins when he dominated Nate Diaz in their “BMF” title fight at UFC 244 earlier this month after the cage-side doctor instructed referee Dan Mirgliotta to stop the fight as a result of the cut Diaz had suffered over his right eyebrow.
While there is no denying Masvidal’s rise -- both inside and outside of the Octagon -- has been meteoric, welterweight Usman isn’t buying into it and believes nothing has changed with “Gamebred” as a fighter and his recent success is purely down to the type of fighters the promotion has given him.
“I wouldn’t say [I’ve been] impressed,” Usman told MMA Fighting. “Because it’s Masvidal, nothing’s changed. He’s the same guy. He’s fought the same way forever. It’s just the luck of the draw; he’s getting that luck of the draw. I’ve yet to see him fight a full-on welterweight from start to finish and completely dominate them. Then at that point I can say this is a different guy.”
“He’s got a lot of hype right now, and he’s been in this sport for a long, long time,” Usman said. “But at the end of the day, does it really matter that you have all that hype if you never get to the pinnacle of the sport? I like the fact that that he has all this hype. It brings a lot of eyes. So if he does make it to me and that fight is made, I would actually be very, very interested in that.”
Usman returns to action next month at UFC 245, in what is the promotion’s final pay-per-view of the year and will feature three title fights including a welterweight bout between Usman against the controversial Colby Covington.