Ahead of their first outing in Jacksonville, Florida since May of last year, city mayor, Lenny Curry has told how he’s proud to welcome the UFC and its president, Dana White back to the ‘Sunshine State’ for it’s April 24 UFC 261 pay-per-view event.

Slated to make a return to the Vystar Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, the promotion is also set to field an open gate for the first time since UFC 248 last year, with the Arena in Florida available to a full capacity of 15,000 spectators.

Featuring a tripleheader of title fights for the second time in just over a month, the organization headlines the event with a welterweight championship rematch between incumbent titleholder, Kamaru Usman and BMF champion, hometown favourite, Jorge Masvidal

Taking co-main event honours as she attempts her fifth defence of the flyweight championship, dominant pacesetter, Valentina Shevchenko clashes with former strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade in a massive title matchup, which on paper, promises fireworks. 

Beginning our trio of title fights on the card, a well-overdue matchup for strawweight gold. Current titleholder, Zhang Weili returns from her Fight of the Year winning effort against former champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, attempting her second title knockback against another former champion; ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas.

Releasing a statement to outlet, Bloody Elbow, Jacksonville mayor, Curry spoke of how proud the state is to have the UFC and White back on their soil again, praising current governor, Ron DeSantis for his handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in almost two million cases in the state at the time of writing.

Thanks to the strong leadership of Governor (Ron) DeSantis and his smart and safe approach throughout COVID-19, Florida is poised to host signature sporting events,” Curry’s statement read. “The UFC and it’s president, Dana White, have demonstrated the ability to safely host fans at multiple events that have taken place during the pandemic in Florida, Las Vegas, and Abu Dhabi. For the thousands of UFC fans who are ready to return to world-class sports entertainment, we are proud to welcome you back to Jacksonville.

Jacksonville served as the host to the promotion’s UFC 249 event last May, featuring a main event for the interim lightweight title where Justin Gaethje stopped former gold holder, Tony Ferguson with fifth round strikes. In the co-headliner, Henry Cejudo lodged his first and final successful bantamweight title defence with a second round knockout of Dominick Cruz 

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.