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Jorge Masvidal, Kamaru Usman still talk trash, but interest in potential fight differs

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LAS VEGAS – Jorge Masvidal and Kamaru Usman have their differences. Some of them were on full display Thursday.

Neither Masvidal (35-13 MMA, 11-4 UFC) nor Usman (16-1 MMA, 11-0 UFC) are involved in Saturday’s face-punching festivities. However, they find themselves intrinsically tied to the outcome of the UFC 246 main event between Conor McGregor and Donald Cerrone.

The two welterweight fighters fielded questions from the media in back-to-back scrums at a UFC 246 pre-fight event. Both Masvidal and Usman were asked about potential matchups with McGregor, as well as a head-to-head matchup between the two of them. Their hunger for a future fight against one another differed, however.

Unwilling to play the role of matchmaker, Usman reiterated he leaves those details up to his team and the promotion. Usman implied he doesn’t care who is next in line, as long as it’s a worthy challenger.

In recent weeks, however, Usman has poked fun at Masvidal. His go-to line whenever Masvidal gets brought up: “Who?”

So why is Usman seemingly downplaying Masvidal’s notoriety? It’s less about popularity — Masvidal is undeniably a big deal — and more about being proven in the division.

“This is a game to where you need to fight the contenders that are there,” Usman told reporters, including MMA Junkie. “If there’s just an average guy that’s looking into the sport of martial arts and they’re like, ‘Oh, the welterweight champion is going to fight somebody. Who’s that contender?’ They look through the rankings and they want to know who the next-best guy is.”

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Usman then pointed to Masvidal’s recent streak. Masvidal has beaten Nate Diaz, Ben Askren, and Darren Till in his most recent bouts, none of whom are UFC-ranked top 10 welterweights.

“If you look in that top 10, I’ve beaten half of them,” Usman said. “I’ve gone through half of them. Who in that top 10 has this guy beat? To me, is this being a contender or is this the hype? There are two different things.

“Of course when there’s a lot of hype, people want to see the fight. Of course they make the fight happen – when it’s a true contender that’s been running through the division and beating all the worthy guys to get there, of course. That’s the next toughest, best challenge. That’s all that is.”

Conversely, Masvidal offered a different take. Overall, money is his main motivation. A matchup with McGregor, Masvidal believes, would surely elevate the balance in his bank account more than a fight with Usman.

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In a hypothetical scenario in which the earnings were equal, however, Masvidal would love to get his hands on the UFC welterweight champ. The American Top Team’s Masvidal has taken particular exception to Usman’s recent trash talk.

“It’s a money thing, at first,” Masvidal said. “But if I’m getting paid in food for the both of them for some reason and it’s the same food, I like Conor – what he does in the ring. I like all the eyeballs he’s brought to the sport. I like him more as a person.

“Usman, I can’t stand him. I can’t stand that dude. I’ll be honest with you. I’ll pick Usman all day, but it’s business, right? Especially for me. I pick Conor in the real life. If it’s all the same potatoes and tomatoes, I’ll break (Usman’s) (expletive) face and in a violent way. At first, I came at him with a lot of respect and I just want to shut his mouth up. That’s it.”

Before the promotion weighs its options for its next big welterweight fight, UFC 246 needs to play out. McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) is a big piece of the puzzle, after all. A former UFC double champ, McGregor still has business to take care of in the form of Cerrone (36-13 MMA, 23-10 UFC).

UFC 246 takes place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

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