Undisputed UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman produced a stunning performance to hand Jorge Masvidal the first knockout loss of his career at UFC 261 in Jacksonville, then declared himself the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.
Usman connected with a colossal straight right hand in the second round to starch Masvidal, who had never been knocked out in his previous 49 professional fights, and complete his fourth straight world title defence in spectacular fashion.
The bout was a rematch of their meeting at UFC 251 last year, when Masvidal lost out on the scorecards after stepping in on six days’ notice to face Usman for the title.
Usman went on to TKO Gilbert Burns at UFC 258 in February, then called out Masvidal for a rematch, vowing to deliver an even more emphatic performance in their second meeting.
“The Nigerian Nightmare” backed up his promise with a huge performance to cement his place at the top of the welterweight tree, then said that he was the best fighter in the world, at any weight.
“I told everybody, I’m still getting better. The sky’s the limit for me as long as I’m doing this,” he declared.
“I know with my fundamentals I am the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet right now.”
Masvidal was classy in defeat as he reacted to the first knockout loss of his 50-fight MMA career.
“First time in my career, and it’s in front of all my people, my family and my friends, so it hurts,” he said.
“I’ve never been knocked out in 50 pro fights. Usman showed me something that he didn’t show in the first fight. I didn’t feel his power, and that’s what happens when you get overconfident, man. I thought we were going to wrestle more.
“All the props to him in the world. He caught me by surprise. He’s got my number, man. There’s nothing I can say. He won this fair and square, man. God bless him.”
The event took place in front of 15,000 fans in the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, and the electric atmosphere seemed to inspire fighters to huge performances in the night’s three title fights.
In the co-main event, Rose Namajunas delivered a huge first-round head-kick knockout to Chinese champion Zhang Weili to recapture the UFC women’s strawweight title, while flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko dominated former strawweight champ Jessica Andrade to retain her 125-pound title via second-round TKO.