Masvidal took the fight on just six days notice after original opponent Gilbert Burns was forced to withdraw after testing positive for Covid-19.
In his first title challenge, ‘Gamebred’ came up just short as Usman largely controlled the contest, keeping Masvidal’s fearsome striking at bay and securing a unanimous decision win on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ extends his winning streak to 16 and now ties Georges St-Pierre with the longest winning streaks in UFC welterweight history with 12.
Masvidal secured stunning knockout wins over Darren Till and Ben Askren in the first half of 2019 before seeing out the year with victory over UFC legend Nate Diaz.
But Usman was able to successfully nullify his offence in the octagon, controlling much of the contest with three successful takedowns keeping the pressure on the challenger who wasn’t able to find a big finish he needed in the final round.
The welterweight title was one of three championships up for grabs on a stacked night of UFC action.
Alexander Volkanovski successfully defended his featherweight strap with a split decision win over former champion Max Holloway.
Petr Yan meanwhile claimed the vacant bantamweight title with a superb win over veteran Jose Aldo, stopping the Brazilian in the fifth round.
Kamaru Usman beats Jorge Masvidal via unanimous decision
Masvidal can’t find the big finish he needs – Usman stays champion!
Usman vs Masvidal | Round 5
Beautiful takedown from Usman again a minute into the last round, dragging the challenger from the fence to the mat.
Masvidal needs a knockout here.
Usman vs Masvidal | Round 4
Usman keeps Masvidal pinned up against the fence for much of the round, going to work with those shoulder drives.
Suddenly Masvidal wriggles free with a couple of short range hooks, but follows it up with a rather laboured Superman punch that Usman easily dodges.
Usman reapplies the pressure and lands a beautiful left hook of his own – Masvidal eats it no problem but he has slowed down in there.
Usman vs Masvidal | Round 3
Masvidal’s takedown defence has been superb so far and he continues to lash back with those leg kicks.
Mark Goddard breaks up the action after Usman lands a shot below the belt, Masvidal takes a moment to recover and get a breather.
After that break Usman finally gets the takedown he has been searching for – and slams Masvidal moments later! He lands a few elbows while he is down there, going to work on those cuts.
Usman vs Masvidal | Round 2
Masvidal has another cut – another accidental clash of heads by the look of it. His takedown defence as held up so far but Usman forces the issue with a couple of fierce shoulder drives pressed up against the cage.
Masvidal grins the whole way through it – and turns it on late in the round with a fierce hook.
Usman vs Masvidal | Round 1
Masvidal immediately goes for the low kicks but Usman picks him off, getting the takedown 30 seconds into the fight.
The challenger breaks clear and continues his aggressive start, throwing plenty and landing more strikes of the two – nothing that is particularly troubling for Usman but it’s at a superb pace so far.
Masvidal is carrying a small cut above his left eye – seemingly from a clash of heads.
Good opening round from the challenger.
Usman vs Masvidal
No touch of the gloves. My this is tense.
HERE. WE. GO!
MAIN EVENT TIME!
Six days on from stepping in to replace Gilbert Burns, Jorge Masvidal gets his first world title shot against Kamaru Usman.
Volkanovski’s late surge sees him retain the belt! Knockdowns in the first and second rounds weren’t enough.
Alexander Volkanovski beats Max Holloway via split decision!
Holloway vs Volkanovski | Round 4
Volkanovski scores a late takedown – but it might not be enough! Such a close fight with the champion applying the pressure late on. But Holloway may have taken the first three rounds there…
Holloway vs Volkanovski | Round 4
Another good round for the champion – Holloway’s nose appears to be leaking as Volkanovski starts to outbox the challenger.
Holloway vs Volkanovski | Round 3
Volkanovski is starting to find his range a little, landing a couple of neat hooks, closing the round with a sharp double jab.
A round back for the champion.
Holloway vs Volkanovski | Round 2
Another round for the challenger – Holloway keeps the champion at distance and suddenly jumps inside with a beautiful left hook combo.
Volkanovski hits the deck again late on!
Holloway vs Volkanovski | Round 1
Volkanovski looks comfortable enough in the opener until he is sent to the mat late on by a right head kick!
Holloway vs Volkanovski
We are underway.
Herb Dean is the third man in the ring for this contest. We are almost ready to rock.
The title fights keep coming – featherweight gold is up for grabs next as Max Holloway challenges Alex Volkanovski.
NEW BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPION!
Superb from Yan.
Petr Yan beats Jose Aldo via TKO in the fifth round!
And it is finally stopped! A vicious ending from Yan – superb ground and pound that left Aldo with nowhere to go.
That was an engrossing first three rounds but Yan took charge late on.