Kamaru Usman improved to 17-1 with a unanimous decision over late replacement Jorge Masvidal to retain his welterweight crown in UFC 251.
Masvidal fought on just six days’ notice to face Usman on “UFC Fight Island” on Saturday night, but lost out on the scorecards after Usman used his wrestling skills to outduel Masvidal.
“I hate coming up short. I ain’t going to make no excuses,” he told reporters after his defeat.
“He was the better man tonight. There was some areas where I didn’t give him enough credit and there was some areas I felt with a better training camp I could definitely surpass him.
“I made a lot of mistakes. I tried to fight in spots where I didn’t think my gas tank was the greatest. Right when I would get loose, he would clinch me up and take it right back into his world.
“So, I’m not going to take anything away from him. He won fair and square. I will do whatever it takes to get back in front of that man and compete again and get my hand raised.”
“I’ve got a good formula in my head though on how to beat him the next time,” he said.
“I thought I had the formula. Now I know the formula, it takes a lot of gas tank, a lot of conditioning, a lot more wrestling rounds with high-level guys. So I definitely got a square root on how to beat this guy.”
If there is a rematch, Usman will probably still have the advantage as a wrestler, but that is not to say that the fight will be a replay of the first.
Both fighters will have the benefit of being able to rewatch the first fight over and over to prepare for the second.