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Did Jorge Masvidal deserve a direct rematch with Kamaru Usman?

9 months after being completely dominated by Kamaru Usman at UFC 251, Jorge Masvidal finds himself proper again into the title image in the primary occasion at UFC 261. He didn’t should win a struggle to get the chance. It may be seen as reciprocation for Masvidal stepping in on six days’ discover after Usman’s authentic opponent, Gilbert Burns, needed to be eliminated due to testing constructive for COVID.

MORE: UFC 261 date, begin time, odds, PPV schedule & card for Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 2

Masvidal is ranked fourth within the welterweight division based on the official UFC rankings. Forward of him are Colby Covington and Burns, who’ve additionally misplaced to Usman, and Leon Edwards, who misplaced to the champion early in his UFC run. Simply behind Masvidal is Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, who holds a win over Masvidal however failed twice in title alternatives towards Tyron Woodley a number of years in the past, and Vicente Luque, winner of three straight fights along with his final loss coming to Thompson. 

Sandwiched between his losses to Usman and Thompson, Masvidal has three wins towards Nate Diaz, Darren Until and Ben Askren. Until has since moved as much as middleweight, Diaz is booked to face the No. 3 ranked Edwards however has but to defeat a top-10 welterweight and Askren retired from the game and kissed the canvas in a boxing match towards YouTuber Jake Paul

Masvidal will get his probability this weekend and UFC president Dana White introduced that Covington is the following in line. Covington defeated Tyron Woodley, who hasn’t gained a struggle since being defeated by Usman and hasn’t accomplished a lot of anything. 

Each Masvidal and Covington are two of the extra standard fighters within the division regardless of not essentially having labored their manner into one other title alternative 

The query is whether or not the rankings truly matter, or are these title alternatives extra about promoting a PPV reasonably than giving the top-ranked fighters an opportunity at placing gold. 

Properly, it’s a little bit little bit of each. 

Within the case of Masvidal, that is extra about being paid again for rescuing a card that was about to lose its predominant occasion. Going through a fighter who hasn’t misplaced within the UFC on lower than per week’s discover is a tall activity and a large endeavor with out a full camp. However Masvidal rolled the cube on himself and got here up quick. The UFC responded by recognizing each the drawing energy of the BMF champion and the truth that he stepped up. It’s not all that obscure. 

However what about Leon Edwards?

That is the place it will get difficult. 

Edwards is ranked third and hasn’t misplaced a struggle since dropping a choice to Usman in 2015. He was presupposed to face the unranked however ultra-hot Khamzat Chimaev in December, however Chimaev contracted COVID and the struggle was rescheduled for January after which March. Sadly, Chimaev hadn’t made a full restoration and was changed by Belal Muhammad. An unintentional eye poke from Edwards resulted within the struggle being declared a No Contest and the UFC moved shortly to guide Edwards right into a struggle with the returning Nate Diaz, who will return after an 18-month layoff. 

MORE: UFC 261 odds, predictions, betting developments for Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 2

On one hand, it’s an excellent struggle for Edwards to get some much-needed publicity towards a fan favourite in Diaz. On the opposite, it’s yet one more unranked opponent for one of many prime fighters within the division. 

Make it make sense, you ask?

That’s a problem. If the UFC went strictly by their rankings, Edwards ought to completely be in line for a title shot. If not forward of Masvidal, undoubtedly forward of Covington. However the timing is a key cause that Edwards is stored out of a title struggle. He was inactive — by no fault of his personal — from July 2019 till March 2021. Different fighters within the division fought in that point and a struggle between Edwards and Usman simply did not line up. 

As for Covington, it makes little sense that he’s thrust proper again into the title image with out having to do a lot of something. Ideally, he’d must win a struggle to earn a title alternative. The UFC booked Thompson and Burns for a July showdown whereas Luque doesn’t have something set for his return to the Octagon. 

Wouldn’t it make sense for Covington to should face Luque and even the No. 7 ranked Michael Chiesa, who’s using a four-fight successful streak?

Though the UFC usually finds a approach to give followers the fights that they need, there are occasions when the rationale behind these fights turns into convoluted. The rankings lose integrity in case you don’t use them, however the UFC doesn’t appear to care all that a lot. Nevertheless, it’s not almost as unhealthy as boxing, the place sanctioning our bodies award title alternatives to fighters who’re removed from deserving. 

Finally, the UFC has discovered a medium between giving followers what they need and utilizing their rankings to justify matchups and title alternatives. It is probably not good, but it surely works. 

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