UFC 251: Usman v Masvidal
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Luckily for UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, the qualifications for gaining critical respect by earning a high pound-for-pound ranking don't take into account superficial criteria along the lines of entertainment and popularity. 

Usman didn't exactly gain new fans by the manner in which he mauled (and sometimes stalled) Jorge Masvidal in their pay-per-view main event at UFC 251 last Saturday. What the native of Nigeria did, however, was extend his impressive win streak to 16 in the second defense of his 170-pound title. 

Whatever you think of him, Usman is among the best fighters in the world, and for whatever his methods lack from the standpoint of increasing his marketability, they were strategically sound. Usman never took the bait of feeling as if he needed a finish to silence his critics and largely avoided getting reckless enough to allow Masvidal, who took the fight on six days' notice, a chance to rally in spectacular fashion. 

Instead, Usman was smart, safe and largely dominant, just as he has been in the majority of his UFC fights (in which he is now 12-0). 

Anyone who chooses to fight in a defensive or boring style limits their ceiling of growth when it comes to things like sponsorships, attention and large social media followings. But without a bombastic personality worth flashing to begin with, Usman simply doesn't have the financial incentive to be anything more than he already is: a winner. 

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Taking a risk of losing his title might not be worth the reality of his financial future without it. Until another 170-pound fighter can figure out how to out-grapple the former NCAA Division II national champion wrestler or overcome either his chin or his gas tank, fans need to get used to him because Usman very much appears to have staying power.  

Usman is among the most fit fighters in the game and continues to show an evolution toward becoming one of its more intelligent and well-rounded performers. Will that ever lead to him taking more chances when he secures dominant positions? It probably depends upon the opponent and the level of danger he is facing at the time. 

Just the same, Usman's critics need to be careful not to forget just how exciting he was in December when he knocked out fellow wrestler Colby Covington at the tail-end of five rounds of stand-up trading. Usman also deserves praise for the small wrinkles added to his striking game for this fight in his camp with coach Trevor Wittman, particularly in the early going when Masvidal stuffed seven of Usman's first eight takedown attempts. 

Liking Usman is not a prerequisite to respecting his skill set, and with UFC wins over Leon Edwards, Demian Maia, Rafael dos Anjos, Tyron Woodley, Covington and now Masvidal, he's building a resume that soon enough will become impossible not to admire. 

For CBS Sports' updated divisional rankings, click here.

Men's pound-for-pound rankings

Dropped out: Henry Cejudo

Just missed: Petr Yan, Tony Ferguson, Dominick Reyes, Robert Whittaker, Gilbert Burns, Aljamain Sterling, Jorge Masvidal

Women's pound-for-pound rankings

Dropped out: Germaine de Randamie

Just missed: De Randamie, Jessica Andrade, Tatiana Suarez, Aspen Ladd, Cynthia Calvillo