Tagged in: welterweight

Usman knocks out Masvidal to win rematch

Kamaru Usman dominated his fight the first time he faced Jorge Masvidal, but he wasn’t thrilled because there were so many unanswered questions left. Masvidal had taken that fight on six days’ notice and needed to cut 20 pounds to make weight.

That seemed to take something off Usman’s one-sided victory.

Saturday’s rematch in the main event of UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Florida, was just as one-sided, but this time, he left no doubts.

He became the first man to knock out Masvidal when he landed with a perfectly thrown straight right hand. He dropped Masvidal hard and finished him with three hammer fists on the ground, forcing referee Herb Dean to stop it at 1:02 of the second.

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“Thank you to my man Jorge,” Usman said. “You elevated me. You made me go through the workshop to sharpen up my tools to put on a performance like that.”

There was no controversy, no complaints from Masvidal’s side and nothing but respect for a man who is quickly on his way to becoming the greatest welterweight in UFC history.

That’s a big feat considering what Georges St-Pierre accomplished, but in his last seven fights, he’s defeated Demian Maia, Rafael dos Anjos, Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns and Masvidal twice.

That’s a Murderer’s Row if ever there was one, and he knocked out Covington, Burns and Masvidal in the process.

Masvidal paid tribute, saying, “He showed me something he didn’t show me the first time.”

Usman was confident after going through several training camps with Trevor Whitman, a striking expert who has worked hard on sharpening Usman’s stand-up. It showed on Saturday, as he tagged Masvidal several times with clean combinations in the first round.

Usman, a former Division II national wrestling champion, has an extremely complete all-around game.

“I know with my fundamentals, I’m the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet right now,” he said.

There aren’t a lot of people outside of Jon Jones’ camp who would argue that right now.

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Donald Cerrone, Diego Sanchez agree to welterweight fight May 8

Two of the biggest fan favorites in UFC history — and a pair of former teammates — will fight this spring.

UFC veterans Donald Cerrone and Diego Sanchez have verbally agreed to a May 8 fight, sources confirmed to ESPN on Thursday. The bout will be contested at welterweight, sources said.

While both fighters’ respective teams have agreed, no contracts have been signed and the fight has not yet been officially declared. Sanchez wrote Thursday on Twitter that the bout versus Cerrone will be his “UFC finale.”

Sanchez and Cerrone were training partners for many years at the storied JacksonWink MMA gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but had a falling out in 2018 when Cerrone left the team. Sanchez has since left JacksonWink MMA, as well.

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Cerrone (36-15, 2 NC) is a surefire future UFC Hall of Famer and one of the best fighters of all time who has not held a UFC title.

“Cowboy” owns the most victories in UFC history (23), the most finishes in UFC history (16) and the most postfight bonuses in promotion history (18). He is tied for the most UFC fights with Jim Miller (36).

Cerrone, 36, is winless in five consecutive and trying to pick up his first victory since May 2019.

Sanchez (30-13) in 2005 was the first-ever tournament winner on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, which is credited with helping take the UFC to the next level in terms of popularity. His 2009 fight with Clay Guida was inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame’s fight wing in 2019.

Sanchez, 39, is tied for the second-most Fight of the Night bonuses in UFC history (7). The New Mexico native is coming off a loss to Jake Matthews at UFC 253 in September but has won three of his past five fights. MMA Fighting was first to report the agreement for the fight.

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Saucedo-Fredrickson to top June Vegas card

The Alex Saucedo-Sonny Fredrickson fight has been rearranged.

BoxingScene.com has learned that Saucedo and Fredrickson will square off in a 10-round junior welterweight bout June 30 at an undetermined location in Las Vegas. ESPN is expected to televise the Saucedo-Fredrickson fight as part of a show that’ll air on a Tuesday night.

Saucedo (29-1, 19 KOs) and Fredrickson (21-2, 14 KOs) were supposed to square off April 25 in a non-televised fight on the Naoya Inoue-Johnriel Casimero undercard at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Saucedo’s promoter, is in the process of completing a deal to stage a series of cards in June and July at an MGM Resorts International property in Las Vegas.

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The 25-year-old Saucedo knocked out Rod Salka (24-6, 4 KOs) in the first round of his only fight since Maurice Hooker, then the WBO junior welterweight champion, stopped him in the seventh round in November 2018 in Oklahoma City, Saucedo’s hometown. Fredrickson, who’s also 25, lost a 10-round majority decision to Samuel Teah (17-3-1, 7 KOs) in his last fight, November 14 in Washington, D.C.

Saucedo-Fredrickson will be part of the fourth week of fights for Arum’s company upon its return from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pending approval from the Nevada State Athletic Commission at its next meeting Wednesday morning, Top Rank will return with an ESPN card June 9.

Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs), the WBO featherweight champion, is projected to headline that show, which also will take place on a Tuesday night. Stevenson’s opponent hasn’t been solidified, but whomever it is will face Stevenson in a 10-round, 130-pound, non-title fight.

Arum told BoxingScene.com on Tuesday that Top Rank will return with three ESPN shows that second week of June. Cards also are being prepared for June 11 and June 13, a Thursday night and Saturday night, respectively. 

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Mikey Garcia ready to erase doubts at welterweight against Jessie Vargas

For 39 professional fights, Mikey Garcia didn’t know what it felt like to lose. He’d risen through the ranks on his way to becoming a four-division world champion and being regarded as pound-for-pound one of the best fighters in boxing by taking the hardest challenges along the way.

That was certainly the case when Garcia jumped up two weight classes to battle IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in front of over 47,000 people at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, back in March of last year.

However, things didn’t go Garcia’s way, and Spence dominated from the opening bell to win a lopsided decision. Eleven months later, the fire is reignited, and Garcia comes back to the ring on Saturday versus Jessie Vargas at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, live on DAZN.

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“That fight isn’t indicative of who I am and what I’m capable of doing,” Garcia said. “The last fight doesn’t represent who I am. It was just one of those nights where I just couldn’t get off or do anything. I feel this a good way to get back on track against a big name in search of winning a world title in a fifth different weight class. I know there’s a lot more I can deliver, and that’s what this fight is all about.”

Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) had plenty of routes on who to take on for his in-ring return.

He could have easily taken a tune-up in the welterweight division. However, that’s not the mindset Garcia possesses.

It’s about taking the toughest matchups — ones that will further establish himself and help him be remembered after his career is over.

That’s why Garcia is excited about facing Vargas, who checks all the boxes that he’s looking for. Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KOs) is a former two-division world champion and has taken on Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley and brings an exciting style to the table.

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