- Jorge Masvidal may have taken a short-notice fight to challenge Kamaru Usman for the UFC welterweight championship, but he’s been preparing for Usman for months.
- That’s according to Dustin Poirier, Masvidal’s training partner and friend from the American Top Team stable in Florida.
- “He’s in fight shape – I know that much,” Poirier said earlier this week, adding that Masvidal even had wrestlers flown in from all around the world to prepare him for Usman.
- Usman and Masvidal headline the first of four events at “Fight Island,” a quarantined section of Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The residency begins on Saturday, July 11.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
FIGHT ISLAND – Jorge Masvidal has been training this whole time, and even though he accepted a shot at Kamaru Usman’s UFC welterweight championship on six days notice, he’s been preparing for Usman for months.
That is the opinion of the former UFC lightweight title challenger Dustin Poirier, who is a training partner and friend of Masvidal’s at the American Top Team training facility in Coconut Creek, Florida.
“He’s in fight shape – I know that much,” Poirier said on “The Fight with Teddy Atlas” show on YouTube.
Usman was scheduled to defend his title at UFC 251 on Saturday, July 11, the marquee event of the UFC’s four-event residency on “Fight Island,” a quarantined area on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
The Nigerian’s original opponent, Gilbert Burns, was forced to withdraw from the competition last week after the second-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt tested positive for the coronavirus.
UFC decision-makers scrambled to find a replacement and struck a deal with Masvidal on Saturday, who tested negative for the coronavirus Sunday and then flew by private jet to Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Masvidal had to quarantine while he waited for two more coronavirus tests to come back negative, all while cutting 22-pound in weight so he could meet the 170-pound limit Friday, for Saturday’s showdown.
It raised questions as to whether Masvidal was genuinely ready for such a big occasion. But Poirier last week said he has been ready for months, even helping Poirier prepare for his pandemic-era fight, a blood-and-guts win over Dan Hooker in Las Vegas, last month.
“It’s short-notice because he didn’t have that contract signed, but let me tell you … this guy was there my whole training camp, as my main sparring partner,” Poirier said.
Masvidal has ‘been in the gym non-stop’
Poirier said that he enjoyed full-contact sparring with Masvidal for five weeks. The welterweight title challenger had wrestlers, who could mimic Usman’s style, flown in from all over the world to spar with on the off-chance that he would replace Burns and fight the champion this weekend.
“I don’t know if he knew something, that we didn’t, but the guy was in training camp and never stopped,” Poirier said.
“I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people with the kind of shape he’s in. His timing is going to be good because he was in my camp the whole time, y’know, helping a few guys – not just me.
“He’s in fight shape, I know that much,” Poirier said. “This is not a guy coming off the couch. This is a guy who has been preparing to fight Usman … he’s been in the gym non-stop.
“I’m excited for him, he’s a good guy, and a pioneer of mixed martial arts so it’s good seeing him get these opportunities.”