UFC 261 takes place this weekend at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. It’ll be the promotion’s first event with live fans in more than 13 months. The lucky fans who snapped up tickets for UFC 261 will have the pleasure of watching three title fights.
In the main event Kamaru Usman once again puts his welterweight strap on the line against Jorge Masvidal. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ previously beat Masvidal by decision at UFC 251 last year.
Weili Zhang will look to make the second defence of her strawweight crown in the co-main event. The 115lb queen will put her title on the line against the former champion, Rose Namajunas, who has politicized the match-up in recent weeks.
The first title fight of the evening will see Valentina Shevchenko put her belt on the line against former strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade. The Brazilian jumped up to flyweight in 2020 and quickly became the divisions number one contender by stopping Katlyn Chookagian.
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Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal
The UFC 261 main event is something of a mismatch according to the oddsmakers. Kamaru Usman is the -400 favourite over Jorge Masvidal who can be found at odds of +300. It is understandable the bookmakers feel this way when you consider the fact Usman dominated ‘Gamebred’ over five rounds less than one year ago. Fans haven’t been keen on the match-up but the UFC and Masvidal believe things will be considerably different now that he’s had a full camp. For those who don’t remember, Masvidal accepted the fight with Usman on just six days’ notice. If ‘’Street Jesus’ is to get the win it seems like he’ll have to knock out the champ. This is not an entirely unlikely scenario. Usman was hurt in his last fight against Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington caused him problems on the feet too. If you fancy Masvidal to score the stoppage win, you can bet on that at odds of +450. That’s not what we’ll be doing. For us, Usman will once again dominate Masvidal for 25 minutes, pick up a decision win and defend his 170lb title. If you bet on Usman to win by decision or technical decision, it’ll bump your odds up to -125.
Weili Zhang vs. Rose Namajunas
Weili Zhang has enjoyed a phenomenal rise through the strawweight ranks. The Chinese superstar put on a sensational performance to dethrone Jessica Andrade. Zhang then went on to defend her belt in one of the greatest MMA fights of all time against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. After such strong performances Zhang has been made the -200 favourite. Namajunas is the underdog but a live one in our opinion. Only a freak incident separated ‘Thug Rose’ from the 115lb belt. The former champion has since gone on to avenge her loss to the woman who dethrone her. We at LowKickMMA will be backing Namajunas to spring the upset by stopping Zhang at UFC 261. The 28-year-old has an elite level top game which we expect to cause the champ problems. Ultimately, we believe we’ll see Namajunas picking up a submission victory and will be betting on her to get the stoppage at huge odds of +400.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade
The first title fight at UFC 261 will see Valentina Shevchenko attempt to continue her amazing featherweight run. ‘Bullet’ has looked sensational at 125lbs, several levels above everyone she’s stepped into the Octagon with. Of course, she’s the -400 favourite ahead of UFC 261. Andrade is in our opinion the toughest test of Shevchenko’s title reign – by some way. A former champion with power and impressive wrestling, she’s more than capable of winning this fight. I’m sure plenty of fans will be backing her to do so at odds of +300. We won’t be. Shevchenko could be the best female fighter of all time by the time her career is done. The challenge of Andrade will bring out the best of Shevchenko who will dominate this fight and maybe even find the finish.
Which of the three UFC 261 title fights are you most looking forward to?