Once again this weekend has another stacked UFC card, Usman Masvidal will be mouthwatering We can look forward to three title’s fights in the Jacksonville Arena on Saturday night, fans will also return. Dana White set the precedent for outstanding UFC events during the pandemic and UFC 261 is no exception.
Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Andrade undercard
The first of the three five round championship fights we see Valentina Shevchenko face Jessica Andrade. Shevchenko is looking to defend her flyweight belt against the Brazilian powerhouse and former Strawweight champion.
Shevchenko has dominated the division, defending her title four times. In November she defeated Jennifer Maia showcasing brilliant wrestling and striking in a unanimous decision.
Jessica Andrade is a different prospect to anyone Shevchenko has faced at flyweight. Her impressive show reel of knock outs and a scary right hook. The Brazilian has the power to cause the champion some real issues.
Andrade will be confident going into the bout. Her victory of Katlyn Chookagian earned her performance of the night. Andrade became the first woman in the UFC to win in three different weight divisions. I’m expecting a brutal fight that will go the distance. Both fighters are incredibly tough and after all there is a belt on the line.
Weili Zhang vs Rose Namajunas undercard
Weili Zhang will defend her Strawweight title for the second time in the co-main event. Zhang faces former champion Rose Namajunas.
Seeking to regain her title and under the tutelage of Trevor Whittman (who also coaches Kamaru Usman) Namajunas has improved her outstanding footwork and timing of her strikes. Namajunas demonstrated thus by beating Jessica Andrade in a split decision victory back in June. This was revenge for losing her title to Andrade in 2019.
Weili Zhang regained her belt and became the Strawweight Queen after defeating Andrade via a first round TKO to become UFC’s first ever Chinese champion.
In March last year just before the pandemic UFC 248 saw Zhang came up against former champ Joanna Jedrzejcyk. A fight that went down as one of the greatest UFC spectacles of all time. A five round thriller in which both fighters exchanged strikes like no tomorrow. The absolute slug fest went to a decision. The bout was extremely close, but Zhang won via a split decision in a memorable night in Las Vegas.
This is Zhang’s first octagon appearance since that famous encounter. She has a lot to prove against an improving Namajunas. This is another title fight on the weekend which will definitely go down to the wire. If Zhang performs as she did last time the clash between two top athletes will be another brutal clash
Usman Masvidal the main event
In UFC 261’s main event Kamaru Usman looks to defend his Welterweight crown for the third time this year. A mouth-watering rematch against fan favourite Jorje Masvidal will be looking to avenge his defeat to the “Nigerian nightmare” A one sided meeting Masvidal lose comfortably in July .
Masvidal’s previous fight took place on a week’s notice. He also had to shed a whole lot of weight, (due to Gilbert Burns contracting Corona Virus) and as a result looked ill prepared. He was also aswell as unfit against the Welterweight champ who has appeared unbeatable since taking the belt of Tyrone Woodley in 2019.
The Nigerian has continued his dominance of the division disposing of previously mentioned Burns in three spectacular rounds last February.
Masviadal has been quietly training hard and preparing for his second shot at the title. He’s, intent on “breaking Usman’s face”. He’s convinced that this time round with a proper camp he will be victorious. This is based on the fact that Usman “doesn’t hit hard” and “isn’t a mean guy”.
What to expect
Last July Usman indicated he is looking for a flawless performance and convincing knockout of Kimbo Slice’s former prodigy. He put the nail in the coffin of any talk suggesting that Masvidal lost the previous fight because of the short notice. He wants to cement the fact that he is the greatest 175 pound MMA fighter in the world by knocking him out in emphatic fashion
Not to discredit Masvidal’s striking ability, but it’s hard to envisage Gamebred defeating Usman over 5 rounds who has looked so dominant. He’s powerful and seemingly impossible to hurt. it will surely take a monumental effort for him to claim the Welterweight belt. It is unfortunate for Masvidal as he is without a doubt the best contender out there however with Usman holding the crown it is increasingly unlikely that Jorje will ever be a champion after a long and difficult career which has only recently seen him shine.
As a Masvidal fan the optimist in me believes that if he can prevent Usman from getting close, taking him down and suffocating his energy on the floor as he did last year, and can inflict some early damage with an onslaught of strikes there is the possibility that he could surprise everyone.
What’s certain is that we are will witness a better prepared Masivdal. Let’s not forget he’s fantastic fighter with the ability to knock anyone out when he finds his rhythm. Both are keen on making a statement, Saturday night will be an explosive and unforgettable spectacle that should not be missed.