Welcome to another episode of Primal mma with everything you should know about this stacked UFC 261 card.The UFC continues to raise the bar for world-class mixed martial arts action with the UFC 261 event on April 24 the latest history-making card to hit the Octagon. In the main event of this championship tripleheader, a score will be settled when heated rivals Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal meet again with Usman's UFC welterweight title on the line. Plus, two more title fights are on tap, as China's Zhang Weili defends her strawweight crown against former champion Rose Namajunas, and Brazilian powerhouse Jessica Andrade looks to strike gold at 125 pounds when she challenges dominant flyweight queen Valentina Shevchenko.
#1 The return of fans to live UFC events is huge
The last time fans were in attendance for a UFC event was at UFC 248 on March 7th, 2020. And while that event took place just over a year ago, in reality, it feels like a lifetime.
The COVID-19 pandemic has essentially wreaked havoc across the world in all sports. While the UFC was one of the few sporting organizations to be able to continue running pretty quickly, things just haven’t been the same without fans in attendance.
The UFC’s behind-closed-doors events have been cool for other reasons – you can hear the fighters, referees, and coaches much more easily, for example.
The UFC did allow some fans to attend January’s UFC 257 on Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island, but those were invites only, and just 2,600 attended.
UFC 261 is all set to have almost six times that amount of fans in attendance. And while that number is a far cry from the UFC’s record attendance of 57,127 (UFC 243), it’ll still feel amazing to see and hear.
#2 The Usman vs. Masvidal fight should draw big on pay-per-view
Firstly, Usman and Masvidal have never stopped sniping at one another on social media. Masvidal claims he would’ve beaten Usman had he not taken the fight at UFC 251 on short notice. Usman naturally believes he would’ve finished Gamebred had he had more notice for fighting him.
And secondly, UFC 251 was probably the biggest pay-per-view of 2020.
It drew an incredible 1.3m pay-per-view buys. And while Usman’s latest pay-per-view – UFC 258 – drew less than half of that number, alongside a star like Masvidal that should change, making UFC 261 another potentially huge seller.
In fact, rematches have always been a big draw for the UFC, regardless of the outcome of the first fight.
Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz, Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, and Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz, for instance, were all featured on some of the UFC's biggest-selling pay-per-views.
With that in mind, the UFC won’t put together many bigger fights than Usman vs. Masvidal II in 2021, making UFC 261 a huge show by default.
#3 UFC 261 has three title fights booked
Major UFC fights like Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal often feature at the top of a less-than-stacked show. Thankfully, that isn’t the case when it comes to UFC 261.
In fact, if things all go to plan, UFC 261 should end up as one of the most stacked shows in promotional history.
UFC 261 currently has three title fights on its main card.
The UFC Welterweight title clash between Usman and Masvidal is the main event. But underneath it, Valentina Shevchenko defends her UFC Flyweight title against Jessica Andrade, and Weili Zhang puts her UFC Strawweight title on the line against Rose Namajunas.
#4 Colby Covington plans on serving as UFC 261 main event backup
Colby Covington has declared himself the official backup for the upcoming welterweight title fight rematch between champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261
Seeing as Covington is the No. 1-ranked welterweight in the world this isn’t that far of a stretch. UFC hasn’t made anything official, but if something was to happen to either Usman or “Gamebred” it makes sense to bring Covington in and keep the show rolling.
We’re in Miami, Fla., right now. That’s a three-and-a-half hour, four-hour ride. I’ll take a bus over to Jacksonville, and I’ll be showing up for the fight. I’ll be there. So if anybody pulls out, I’ll be stepping in and we’ll evaluate from there. I just want to put on good fights and capitalize on the prime of my career, which is what I’m in.
#5 Jorge Masvidal will come prepared
Coming off three straight stoppage wins, white-hot Jorge Masvidal ran into a wall when he stepped in as a late replacement to fight Kamaru Usman last July. Subsequently, Masvidal's aspirations to ascend as the division's top guy were completely shot down.
The champion exposed Masvidal's lack of preparation when he easily imposed his superior grappling skills on the challenger. For the duration of five rounds, Kamaru Usman dictated where the fight took place, controlling Masvidal in the clinch to prevent him from finding his offensive rhythm.
This time, however, Jorge Masvidal has the benefit of having undergone a full training camp, something that wasn't available to him the first time he fought Kamaru Usman. Masvidal and his coaches will also have ample time to craft a gameplan for the defending champion
#6 Back to the classic octagon
This will be the last pay-per-view event at the APEX, considering UFC 261 is slated for Jacksonville, Florida, with a capacity crowd. With some states relaxing restrictions, the UFC could end up reserving pay-per-view events for filled arenas. Some of those events will take place on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which has been the UFC's international home during the pandemic, allowing foreign-based fighters an alternative when restrictions made travel to the U.S. too difficult. It received the majority of the attention last year due to the picturesque locale and "Fight Island" marketing, but White said the Apex has been every bit as important.
"The Apex is one of the smartest things we've done in 20 years," White said. "Timing is everything in life, and this place was done just in time for a global pandemic.
#7 China will watch
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) announced on Monday the main event for UFC 261 will be UFC strawweight champion Zhang Weili making her second title defense against No. 1 contender Rose Namajunas. The event will air live on April 25 with the main card starting at 10 a.m. (Beijing Time).
#8 Five in a row for the Bullet Valentina Shevchenko
Having failed to take the women's bantamweight title off Amanda Nunes at UFC 215 in September 2017, Shevchenko was successful in capturing the vacated flyweight belt at UFC 231 in December 2018 by winning a unanimous decision over Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
The 32-year-old has since defended the gold on four occasions, most recently beating Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 in November.
Andrade, a former women's strawweight champion, made her flyweight debut in October, stopping Katlyn Chookagian via first-round TKO.
The following month, White mentioned the possibility of Shevchenko vs. Andrade, calling Andrade "a real problem" for the champion.
#9 Chris Weidman vs Urijah Hall: 10 years in the making
Chris Weidman thinks history will repeat itself when he locks horns with Uriah Hall in April.
Former middleweight champion Weidman (15-5 MMA, 11-5 UFC) faces Hall at UFC 261 on April 24 in a rematch of their first meeting a decade ago, when they threw down on the local scene in 2010.
Both young and undefeated at the time, Weidman got the best of Hall, as he knocked out “Prime Time” in the first round to win the Ring of Combat middleweight title.
Weidman went on to win the UFC title by dethroning middleweight king Anderson Silva, then notched three successful title defenses before suffering his first career loss to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194.
Since then, it’s been a bumpy road for the NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, but he was able to snap his two-fight losing skid with an important win over in-form Omari Akhmedov in August.
Hall (16-9 MMA, 9-7 UFC) has also had his ups and downs since joining the UFC roster, but is currently enjoying his best run in years, having picked up a big finish over Silva in his last outing in October 2020.
#10 Crute & Smith love
"I can't express how excited and grateful I am that a true fighter has decided to step in and fight me," Crute wrote on Instagram. "This is a better fight, better name and bigger challenge but I'm ready for it.
Smith told ESPN he shares Crute's enthusiasm for the bout, and is looking forward to facing the 24-year-old talent.
"He's a good kid and he deserves it, it's a tough fight for sure," Smith said.
Crute has is 4-1 in the UFC and riding back-to-back first-round finishes. Smith, a former title challenger, is coming off a first-round submission of Devin Clark.
So that is it, everything you need to know for UFC 2621. Will street jesus be the new Welterweight king or will Kamaru dominate again? Will Rose vs Zhang be another GOAT women’s fight? and can Jessica stop the rise of Valentina?
Let us know in the comments below! and do not forget to LIKE AND SUBSCRIBE.
See you in our next video, where we will bring you the latest MMA facts.