UFC president, Dana White seems to have plans beyond UFC 261 laid out for defending welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman, if of course, he can overcome BMF titleholder, Jorge Masvidal for the second time in his career.
Headlining a UFC 261 pay-per-view event from a sold-out Vystar Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, Usman looks to lodge his fourth successful defence of the welterweight throne, in a rematch against Masvidal following a dominant, relatively one-sided unanimous judging win on short notice at UFC 251 on ‘Fight Island’ last July.
In the time since, Usman has continued to run roughshod through the welterweight contenders, most recently knocking back former Sanford MMA teammate, Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 in February — scoring a third-round knockout win.
For Floridian striker, Masvidal, he replaced Burns on short notice in Abu Dhabi, UAE at the above-mentioned summer event, suffering the snapping of his stunning three-fight rise against the defending kingpin.
Consistently linked with a grudge match against former American Top Team teammate, former interim champion, Colby Covington since then, the pairing failed to ever clear any significant hurdle, with Masvidal instead securing an immediate rematch against Usman.
Outspoken Clovis wrestling ace, Covington had brashly claimed that Masvidal had turned down a “seven-figure” payday to coach the latest instalment of The Ultimate Fighter against him, ahead of a summer pay-per-view showdown.
Whilst contenders such as Leon Edwards remain hot on the heels of Usman and Masvidal in hopes of securing a title shot, UFC president, Dana White recently explained that if Usman remains king of the welterweights after this weekend, he’ll subsequently rematch Covington next.
“Well, those guys (Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal) were talking about rematching after that fight (at UFC 251) ’cause he (Masvidal) had taken that fight on short notice,” White said during a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports reporter, Kevin Iole. “And, (Kamaru) Usman was like, ‘I don’t want any excuses out of this guy.’ So I got no problem rematching them.”
“And I know we tried to make other fights — listen, everybody knows what I thought of the Usman vs. Colby Covington fight,” White said. “It’s one of the greatest fights I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what happened timing-wise or whatever that, that fight couldn’t happen, but it will. If he (Usman) wins this weekend, Colby’s next.”
Covington’s most recent win came at UFC Vegas 11 back in September of last year — scoring an eventual fifth-round TKO win over former undisputed champion, Tyron Woodley due to a rib injury following a one-sided wrestling clinic.
News of a potential rematch of Usman and Covington is sure to draw some questions from the above-mentioned, Edwards, who is undefeated since his UFC Fight Night Orlando loss to Usman back in December of 2015, featuring nine times since.
Returning at UFC 262 on May 15th. from a sold-out Toyota Centre in Houston, Texas — Edwards draws Stockton veteran, Nate Diaz in the first five-round, non-title, co-main event in the promotion’s history.