For the first time in a long while there is a UFC event going down outside of either the APEX facility in Vegas or Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island. UFC 261 takes place in Jacksonville, Florida in front of 15,000 fans (who attend at their own risk).
The event is loaded with three title fights. The main event is Kamaru Usman defending his welterweight title opposite Jorge Masvidal. That fight is a rematch from last July’s UFC 251, which Usman won comfortably by unanimous decision.
The co-main sees the UFC’s strawweight title on the line with Zhang Weili defending versus former champion Rose Namajunas. What was already a fascinating fight on paper got turned into a controversial match-up thanks to Namajunas’ bizarre desire to connect her Chinese opponent to the historical persecution of Lithuanian’s by the USSR.
The third title fight on tap is Valentina Shevchenko defending the strawweight belt versus former strawweight champ Jessica Andrade.
In order for all these title fights to go as plan all six fighters must hit championship weight (no one pound weight allowances for them). If anyone fails to do that, we could see some intense scrambling go down to find a replacement.
The video stream goes live at 9AM ET and is provided below, courtesy of our friends at MMA Fighting.
Main card (ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET)
Welterweight championship: Kamaru Usman (169.5) vs. Jorge Masvidal (170)
Strawweight championship: Zhang Weili (114.5) vs. Rose Namajunas (114.5)
Flyweight championship: Valentina Shevchenko (124.5) vs. Jessica Andrade (124.5)
Middleweight: Uriah Hall (185) vs. Chris Weidman (186)
Light heavyweight: Anthony Smith (206) vs. Jim Crute (205.5)
Prelims (ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET)
Welterweight: Alex Oliveira (171) vs. Randy Brown (171)
Welterweight: Dwight Grant (170) vs. Stefan Sekulic (171)
Middleweight: Karl Roberson (185) vs. Brendan Allen (186)
Featherweight: Pat Sabatini (146) vs. Tristan Connelly (146)
Early Prelims (ESPN+ at 5:45 p.m. ET)
Bantamweight: Danaa Batgerel (136) vs. Kevin Natividad (135.5)
Lightweight: Kazula Vargas (155) vs. Rong Zhu (156)
Flyweight: Aori Qileng (126) vs. Jeffrey Molina (126)
Strawweight: Liang Na (116) vs. Ariane Carnelossi (115)
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