Kamaru Usman retained his UFC welterweight title with a composed points victory over Jorge Masvidal at UFC 251.
Both fighters gave their all at ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi but in the end it was the champion who proved too much for his opponent.
Challenger Masvidal took the fight on just six days’ notice after original contender Gilbert Burns was forced off the card with coronavirus.
‘Gamebred’ also took to the Octagon without his head coach Mike Brown, who also contracted Covid-19 this week.
Nigerian-American Usman, 33, came into the bout on an 11-fight UFC winning streak and made his third title defence in Abu Dhabi.
And it was the champion who was able to neutralise the early threat from Miami-native Masvidal by containing him on the canvas.
Masvidal held his own throughout but began to show understandable tiredness as the rounds wore on, despite taking minimal damage.
Usman himself was able to keep away from trouble and was able to impose his will later on with a series of takedowns.
After five rounds it went to the scorecards where all three referees gave the win to Usman, scoring it, 50-45, 49-46, and 50-45.
Usman extended his MMA record to 17-1 with victory but Masvidal deserves massive credit but taking the fight on such short notice.
Masvidal suffered back-to-back defeats in 2017 but revived his UFC career in 2019, thrusting himself into world-title contention with three explosive wins.