As 15,000 fans piled into a sold-out VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, little did they know they would be treated to a rollercoaster of a main card.
Jimmy Crute showed you can eat a lot of punches but you can’t outrun a dead leg; Chris Weidman may have thrown his last kick as he fell with the first strike thrown; Valentina Shevchenko made it look easy as Rose Namajunes regained gold; as for Kamaru Usman, he traded his wrestling for striking and left Jorge Masvidal with his first pro knockout in 50 fights.
UFC 261 Quick Results
- Kamaru Usman def. Jorge Masvidal via KO (R2, 1:02)
- Rose Namajunas def. Weili Zhang via KO (R1, 1:18)
- Valentina Shevchenko def. Jessica Andrade via TKO (R2, 3:19)
- Uriah Hall def. Chris Weidman via injury (R1, 0:17)
- Anthony Smith def. Jimmy Crute via injury (R1, 5:00)
- Randy Brown def. Alex Oliveira via submission (R1, 2:50)
- Dwight Grant def. Stefan Sekulic via split decision
- Brendan Allen def. Karl Robinson via submission (R1, 4:55)
- Pat Sabatini def. Trisan Connelly via unanimous decision
- Danaa Batgerel def. Kevin Natividad via TKO (R1, 0:50)
- Rodrigo Vargas def. Zhu Rong via unanimous decision
- Jeff Molina def. Quileng Aori via unanimous decision
- Ariane Carnelossi def. Na Liang via TKO (R2, 1:28)
UFC 261 Recap & Highlights
The main event of the evening saw Usman and Masvidal run things back on last year’s welterweight encounter.
From the get-go, it looked like we were in for a different style of fight compared to their previous 25-minute encounter.
Masvidal looked light, sharp, ready to wrestle and aggressive off his back when it went to the ground. Usman looked like he was loading up on strikes early on, spending energy he didn’t need to early on.
In typical Gamebred style, there looked to be plenty of trash talk and showboating, until the lights went out courtesy of one of the cleanest straight right knock-outs you’ll ever see in the promotion.
Until one minute into round two, Masvidal (35-15) hadn’t been finished since 2009. For Usman, it was his fourth straight title defence, moving him to 14-0 under the UFC banner and 19-1 overall in MMA.
The win also hands Usman $50,000 as a performance bonus.
Rose Namajunas is back on top in spectacular fashion, putting Zhang Weili away with a high kick off her lead left early in the first round.
The new two-time UFC strawweight champion needed under 90 seconds to regain the top spot, setting up a potential clash with former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
In her post-fight interview, Valentina Shevchenko said “While my opponents try to figure out what is a weakness of mine, don’t waste your time. There is none.”
She’s not wrong.
From the minute the cage door closed she looked like she wanted to make an example of Andrade, getting the better of her at every turn.
The Flyweight queen stays on her throne, locking Andrade up with a crucifix midway through round two to finish with some heavy ground and pound.
Viewer discretion advised: Injuries finish first two bouts on main card
Jimmy Crute, full of heart, was determined to finish his main card opener against Anthony Smith. Eating Smith’s jab throughout the first round, he would fall to what looked like drop foot off the back of a low kick just behind his right knee.
Losing any hope of putting weight on his leg late in the first round, the fight was waved off when Crute got off the stool to start the second round.
The win hands Smith his second on the bounce as he looks to put another run together towards the UFC’s light heavyweight title.
Eleven years since Chris Weidman handed Uriah Hall hall his first defeat, the All-American suffered defeat in the cruellest of fashions.
With the first kick thrown, Weidman snapped his leg just below the knee – a mirror of the injury Anderson Silva suffered against the former middleweight champion in 2013.
For Hall, he becomes the holder of an unexpected record – the first fighter in UFC history to win without throwing a single strike.
Weidman was stretchered from the cage after some time and is expected to undergo surgery on Sunday.
UFC 261 Post-fight Press Conference