UFC 261 Live Blog: Results, Highlights and Analysis

UFC 261 Live Blog: Results, Highlights and Analysis

A championship tripleheader is about to take place in front of a packed crowd at UFC 261.

WELTERWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT: KAMARU USMAN (C) VS. JORGE MASVIDAL — 12:09 AM ET

For the first time since 2009, Jorge Masvidal got finished in a fight.

Kamaru Usman extended his welterweight title reign, making a convincing claim that he is the pound-for-pound number one ranked fighter in the world. Usman (19-1) knocked out Masvidal (35-15) in the second round with a ferocious right hand, erasing whatever doubts remained he had any peer in the welterweight division.

The win streak for Usman now improves to 18. Known for his world-class wrestling, the win was extra satisfying because he won this bout with his striking. That was the most impressive win of Usman’s career, defeating a legitimate threat in Masvidal. Usman continues to get better with each win, which is remarkable considering he is already the best in the world.

Next up for Usman appears to be a rematch against Colby Covington, but it will also be interesting to see who emerges from the Leon Edwards-Nate Diaz bout in May at UFC 262. But moving past Masvidal is a major moment for Usman. This victory further elevates Usman, who is operating on an entirely different level from the rest of the division.

WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT: ZHANG WEILI (C) VS. ROSE NAMAJUNAS — 11:41 PM ET

Expecting a low kick, Zhang Weili was drilled with a left high kick by Rose Namajunas. A couple of hammer fists later, and a new strawweight champion was crowned.

Namajunas (11-4) regained the belt with the KO victory, ending a 21-fight win streak for Weili (21-2). There appeared to be a slight controversy at the end of the fight, as Weili was initially upset with the stoppage. Weili reiterated after the fight that she was not unconscious, but that served as a reminder that more consideration needs to be paid to fighters that were just knocked out.

This begins Namajunas’s second run with the strawweight title, and a perfect first defense will be running it back with Weili.

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WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT: VALENTINA SHEVCHENKO (C) VS. JESSICA ANDRADE — 11:11 PM ET

Valentina Shevchenko left no doubt. She utterly dominated Jessica Andrade, winning the bout by TKO after locking in a crucifix position and hammering Andrade with shots to the head before the official mercifully called a stop to it.

Takedown after takedown, Shevchenko (21-3) was simply too much for Andrade (21-9). Her grappling was next level, and Andrade never stood a chance.

This marks the seventh win in a row for Shevchenko, and fourteenth of her past sixteen. The only opponent to defeat her in that stretch is Amanda Nunes, and a third fight between the two would be an extremely compelling main event.

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MIDDLEWEIGHT FIGHT: CHRIS WEIDMAN VS. URIAH HALL — 10:45 PM ET

One of the most gruesome injuries in UFC history happened in the opening moments of this bout. Chris Weidman opened the fight with a leg kick, hitting Uriah Hall’s knee, causing Weidman’s leg to split in half.

This was devastating. Hall (18-9) gets the victory by TKO, but that was not the way he wanted to win. He had entered this fight on a three-fight win streak, and a win against Weidman (15-6), who defeated him 11 years ago, looked to place him in the thick of the middleweight title picture. And having lost five of his past seven, Weidman needed this win.

But only 17 seconds into the bout, the fight was stopped due to Weidman’s gruesome leg injury.

That type of injury is a career-killer. Weidman deserved a far better fate in the cage, but hopefully, there is another chapter remaining in his career.

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LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT FIGHT: JIMMY CRUTE VS. ANTHONY SMITH — 10:24 PM ET

Anthony Smith landed an extremely effective outside leg kick on Jimmy Crute in the closing moments of round one. The shot was so damaging that Crute could not put weight on his left leg, causing the doctor to call a stop to the fight at the end of the first round, giving Smith a TKO victory.

Smith (35-16) also landed a beautiful left job throughout the first five minutes, which caused repeated damage to the face of Crute (12-2). Despite coming in as the underdog, Smith used this fight to show that he remains a force in the light heavyweight division. And while it is a damaging loss for Crute, he still has plenty of time at only 25 to regain his momentum in the division.

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A championship tripleheader is about to take place in front of a packed crowd at UFC 261.

Whether it is too early for a full stadium is an entirely different subject, but the crowd will certainly add life to the fights on the main card. Headlined by a welterweight championship fight pitting Kamaru Usman against Jorge Masvidal, this has all the pieces necessary to be a tremendous card. The great Valentina Shevchenko also defends her flyweight title against Jessica Andrade, and Zhang Weili looks to make a statement in her strawweight title defense against Rose Namajunas, her toughest opponent to date.

Even the non-title bouts are compelling. In light heavyweight competition, Jimmy Crute looks to take the next step to stardom with a victory against Anthony Smith. Middleweights Chris Weidman and Uriah Hall also meet in a very exciting matchup, one that could spell doom for Weidman in UFC if he loses.

The focus here will be on Usman-Masvidal. This is a night of second chances; for Masvidal, who lost to Usman last summer; for Andrade, who seeks to erase the tag of fluke champion from her resume; and Namajunas, who has a chance to reclaim the title that once belonged to her.

Top to bottom, the entire 261 represents a massive night for the UFC.

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