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411’s UFC 261 Report: Usman KO’s Masvidal

April 25, 2021 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC 261

MAIN CARD (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
Champ Kamaru Usman (169.5 lbs.) vs. #4 Jorge Masvidal (170 lbs.) – for welterweight title
Champ Zhang Weili (114.5 lbs.) vs. #1 Rose Namajunas (114.5 lbs.) – for women’s strawweight title
Champ Valentina Shevchenko (124.5 lbs.) vs. #1 Jessica Andrade (124.5 lbs.) – for women’s flyweight title
#9 Uriah Hall (185 lbs.) vs. #11 Chris Weidman (186 lbs.)
#13 Jimmy Crute (205.5 lbs.) vs. #6 Anthony Smith (206 lbs.)

Randy Brown (171 lbs.) vs. Alex Oliveira (171 lbs.)
Dwight Grant (170 lbs.) vs. Stefan Sekulic (171 lbs.)
Brendan Allen (186 lbs.) vs. Karl Roberson (185 lbs.)
Tristan Connelly (146 lbs.) vs. Pat Sabatini (146 lbs.)

Danaa Batgerel (136 lbs.) vs. Kevin Natividad (135.5 lbs.)
Kazula Vargas (155 lbs.) vs. Rongzhu (156 lbs.)
Aoriqileng (126 lbs.) vs. Jeffrey Molina (126 lbs.)
Ariane Carnelossi (115 lbs.) vs. Na Liang (116 lbs.)

Hello everyone and welcome to 411mania’s LIVE coverage of UFC 261. I’m Robert Winfree and I’ll be your host for the evening. Tonight the UFC brings us a triple header of a PPV, and the first event back in front of a capacity crowd in over a year (they did 2 limited capacity events in Abu Dhabi for UFC on ESPN 20 and UFC 257). Not going to lie, I have not at all missed the live crowds from an observer standpoint. We’ve got three title fights, the main event being a rematch for the welterweight strap. Last year Jorge Masvidal stepped in on 6 days notice to battle champion Kamaru Usman and dropped a unanimous decision, but now he’s back with a full training camp and hoping to halt Usman’s rise as an all time great in the division. For Usman’s part he wants to finish Masvidal this time around, something that hasn’t happened since 2009, and further distance himself from his contemporaries. We’ve got a great strawweight title fight as champion Zhang Weili goes for her second title defense taking on former champion Rose Namajunas. Zhang was half of 2020’s Fight of the Year, while Namajunas tries to become the first woman in UFC history to reclaim a title after losing it. And rounding out our trio of title fights is women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko trying to turn back probably her stiffest test at 125 in the form of former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade. The main card is rounded out by a couple of crossroads fights, former middleweight champion Chris Weidman is trying to salvage his career against Uriah Hall who’s still trying to find the consistency needed to climb the ranks, and Anthony Smith tries to turn back the rising prospect and would be contender Jimmy Crute at light heavyweight. The prelims are light on name value, but a bunch of Chinese fighters are debuting tonight so we might be getting our first exposure to top end talent. Or a punch of mid level scrubs are showing up, but we’ll just have to watch and find out.

UFC 261 comes to the world from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. This was the same venue the UFC went to once they got their COVID protocols sorted out and this is something of a poetic moment as they now have sold the place out instead of performing before an empty arena. On commentary we have Jon Anik, Joe Rogan, and Daniel Cormier. We’ve got most of the newer rules, but you still only need one hand on the mat to be downed and while there is instant replay it’s only for fight ending sequences. We’re also back in the usual 30 foot cage so keep that in mind.

Ariane Carnelossi just had a 12 fight winning streak snapped when she debuted in the UFC back in 2019, she’s trying to avoid her first losing streak and get that first UFC win. Na Liang brings a four fight winning streak into her UFC debut, she’s trying to make a good first impression on the UFC fan base. Carnelossi is the favorite at -225 to +175 for Na.

Strawweight Bout: Ariane Carnelossi (12-2, 115 lbs.) vs. Na Liang (15-4, 116 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Na is three inches taller and has a whopping five and a half inches of reach advantage. Hard right from Na right away, then they start brawling before Na gets a takedown. Knee on belly for Na, now more of a 3/4 mount. Na looks to pass, can’t keep control though and Carnelossi lands a left hook back on the feet. Another left from Carnelossi. Both women land punches, they tie up and trade again then Na drops for a takedown on the fence. Body lock takedown by Na but Carnelossi has full guard. And there’s the first “woo”, couldn’t even make it half a round. Na tries to slam, Carnelossi tries an armbar but loses the grip and Na moves to north-south then goes for her own armbar but loses it and Carnelossi is on top. Na tries an armbar, Carnelossi escapes and looks to get on top but gets swept into side control. Carnelossi comes up for a single leg, bit of a fireman’s carry to land on top in side control. Hammer fists from Carnelossi, she lands punches and then gets the back. Na slips free and lands a right while trying to pass the guard. Triangle choke from Carnelossi, moves to mount with it but can’t hold the position as Na’s legs get in play. Carnelossi is in leg drag and lands some hard lefts as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Carnelossi

ROUND TWO: Na might not make it out of her corner for the second round, she’s exhausted and took some abuse at the end of the round. She does make it up and continues, but her legs are gone. Carnelossi lands a calf kick. Punches from Carnelossi in close, Na with a head and arm throw but she’s about to give up her back along the fence. Carnelossi gets the back, grabs the choke but her body position is off. Na can’t hold her though, and Carnelossi kicks her over and gets on top in full guard. Na is dead tired. Carnelossi lands some elbows and hammer fists. More punches from Carnelossi and Na isn’t defending herself so the ref stops it.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Ariane Carnelossi via TKO, punches, at 1:28 of Round 2

Well that was all action from start to finish. Mic time for Carnelossi and her translator, she says the crowd definitely pumped things up but also knew Na had gas tank issues the longer things went. She knew she had superior heart and conditioning and could get it done. To close she thanks the UFC brass and hopes to stick around to see the rest of the fights. Unfortunately she can’t, COVID protocols and all.

Here’s the ending, I can see why you might not like the stoppage but the totality of the fight to this point makes this a good stoppage from where I sit. Also, remember not to set a fight pace you can’t keep people.

Jeff Molina brings a seven fight winning streak into his UFC debut, he’s hoping to extend that streak and get his UFC career off the ground with a win. Aoriqileng has a six fight winning streak going and is likewise hoping to continue his positive momentum in his UFC debut. The odds for this one closed at a -115 pick ’em.

Flyweight Bout: Aoriqileng (18-6, 126 lbs.) vs. Jeffrey Molina (8-2, 126 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Aoriqileng is half an inch taller but the reach is identical. Aoriqileng pressing forward early. Molina looking to counter while backing up. I’m calling a bit of BS on the reach measurement, Aoriqileng is much longer though that might be as much his leg length difference. Some stance switching from Molina while he circles. They trade rights after an Aoriqileng body kick. Aoriqileng punches into a clinch and they hit the fence. OK, nuts to this crowd, they’re already booing. They trade leather as they break but neither man seems rattled. Aoriqileng dives for a takedown, switches to a high crotch and gets it along the fence. Molina wall walks, gets chest to chest and they trade there. Both men land knees to the body while jockeying for position. They punch and break. Right from Molina. Aoriqileng still coming forward. Quick couple of punches from Molina will close the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Aoriqileng but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Aoriqileng back to pressing forward, lands a left hook and a right then gets the back but can’t keep it along the fence. Molina gets free but he can’t get Aoriqileng to back off. Molina lands a counter left hook. Bit of a body kick from Molina. Aoriqileng lands a right hand, then eats a calf kick. Body kick from Aoriqileng, he’s not feinting a whole lot at this point. Bit of a right from Aoriqileng, the range is still a problem for Molina. Molina lands a right, to make me eat a bit of my words. Both men land in close. Molina floors Aoriqileng with a right but he pops back up and lands a right that off balances Molina. Aoriqileng lands another right, he’s a dog and just will not stop coming forward looking for the fight. Jumping knee from Aoriqileng. Molina lands a one two. Left to the body from Aoriqileng, then they both land head shots. Aoriqileng lands another glancing right. Combination from Molina then Aoriqileng defends a single leg. They trade in close, then Molina drops Aoriqileng with a right just as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Molina, 19-19 overall

ROUND THREE: Aoriqileng just keeps coming forward looking for a brawl. Oh, Din Thomas is doing some commentary in the Wittman spot. Aoriqileng gets a takedown but Molina bounces right back up. Bit of a right from Aoriqileng. Molina fighting well while backing up, he’s rolling with a lot of the punches. Combination from Molina lands, then an elbow. Aoriqileng keeps coming but keeps eating punches. Molina digs body shots, he’s out working Aoriqileng at this point. A lot of Molina jabs are landing, then a right to follow up. More punches from Molina, he’s really messing up Aoriqileng’s face. Combination and uppercut from Molina. Molina lands a right, then a hard left. Aoriqileng is finally backing up, and Molina lands an elbow while walking him to the fence. More body shots from Molina, he’s really piling up the offense. Molina with rights, he’s finding all kinds of angles in the pocket now as Aoriqileng is static. They trade rights, then Molina digs the body again. Another exchange of rights but Molina is really putting the offense together. Long left from Molina, Aoriqileng’s face is a mess. Molina with another couple of rights, they get toe to toe and trade wildly for the last few seconds. Both men get wobbled as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Molina, had a 10-8 going before getting wobbled at the end, 29-28 Molina overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Jeff Molina via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28 x2)

All action fight, tons of fun. No issues with a 10-8 third for Molina. Molina gets an interview after that, and he wants a post fight bonus for the fight. He’s the front runner but there’s a lot of quality fights still to come. He puts over Aoriqileng’s toughness but he overcame his personal jitters and got it done.

The end of the fight, this was all action pretty much from start to finish.

Rodrigo Vargas has gone 0-2 in the UFC and hasn’t fought in over a year when he lost a fight after illegally kneeing his opponent in the head, he’s looking for that elusive first UFC win here and could be fighting for his spot on the roster. Rongzhu brings a 10 fight winning streak into his UFC debut, he’s trying to make good on the only chance you get to make a good first impression. Zhu is your favorite here at a surprisingly hefty -250 to a +195 comeback on Vargas.

Lightweight Bout: Kazula Vargas (11-4, 155 lbs.) vs. Rongzhu (17-3, 156 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Rongzhu is an inch taller, Vargas has half an inch of reach, and Rongzhu is 14 years younger. Both men fighting long early, Vargas fighting southpaw. Bit of a left from Vargas. Another left from Vargas. Rongzhu circling, misses a right. High kick from Vargas is partially blocked. Vargas working leg kicks and body shots thus far. Right from Vargas lands. Rongzhu lands a stiff right. They trade rights. Vargas to the body again, he’s fighting well so far. The calf kicks from Vargas are adding up, he lands a couple more. One two from Vargas, then a right hook. They trade power hand punches. Hard left to the body from Vargas. Vargas is showing a few stance switches but mostly still southpaw. Another calf kick from Vargas. They trade lefts, then Vargas lands a right. A left from Vargas closes the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Vargas

ROUND TWO: Vargas lands a couple of calf kicks, Rongzhu catches one and gets a takedown. Vargas grabs a guillotine, it’s arm in but looks rather tight. Rongzhu is trying to fight the guard not the grip. Vargas keeps squeezing but he’s doing it wrong, he needs to compress not stretch with the arm in. Vargas bails on the choke and goes to his knees, then comes up but is taken back down. Rongzhu fell into another guillotine but again there’s not much there. Vargas bails on the choke and scrambles to his knees while Rongzhu spins to his back in the ride position. Rongzhu jumps for the back but only gets one hook and Vargas is coming out into top position. Vargas on top in half guard now. Rongzhu hip escapes to full guard. Some short offensive blows from Vargas. They scramble back up in the clinch and hit the fence. Body shots from Vargas and they separate. Rongzhu has a high kick blocked. Vargas blocks a takedown attempt as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Vargas, 20-18 Vargas overall

ROUND THREE: Rongzhu coming forward again. Vargas jabbing the body and looking to kick the calf again. Bit of a jab from Rongzhu. Vargas punches the body a few more times. Rongzhu lands a right. Hard right from Rongzhu, he’s finally coming alive offensively. Vargas with a left in close. Rongzhu lands that right again. Vargas misses a left, Rongzhu wobbles him with a right. Vargas lands a left to the body that seems to freeze up Rongzhu for a second. Some jabs from Vargas land and he avoids the counters this time. Rongzhu’s left eye is swelling up from all these jabs. Bit of a left from Vargas. Both men land right hooks in close. Rongzhu keeps walking into those jabs, it’s a real problem for him. Vargas lands a left, they scramble on a takedown attempt and Rongzhu ends the round on top.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Rongzhu, 29-28 Vargas overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Rodrigo Vargas via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-28 x2)

Not sure about the 10-8 for Vargas, maybe the first purely statistically? No interview for Vargas.

Danaa Batgerel has gone 1-1 in the UFC but is coming off of that win and is now looking to build his first winning streak within the promotion. Kevin Natividad dropped his UFC debut in late 2020, now he’s trying to bounce back and get that all important first UFC win. The odds are with Danaa at -200 to +160 for Natividad.

Bantamweight Bout: Danaa Batgerel (8-2, 136 lbs.) vs. Kevin Natividad (9-2, 135.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Danaa is an inch taller but the reach is identical. They touch gloves to get us going. Danaa stalking forward early while both men feint. Right then a left hook from Danaa floors Natividad, he pounds him out on the mat and gets the ref to stop things.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Danaa Batgerel via TKO, punches, at :50 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Danaa for his work this evening. Mic time for Danaa after that one, he thanks everyone and is happy that things went the way he prepared. Asked where he fits into the bantamweight picture he can’t wait to fight people ranked higher than he is. He thanks everyone in English to close.

This is great stuff from Danaa, misses the right kick but lands the right hook and lands southpaw. Then he backs up, steps through to switch to orthodox and blasts Natividad with a tight left hook. I’m OK with the stoppage personall, Danaa is no one to trifle with.

That’s it for early prelims, on to ESPN and ESPN+ for the remainder of the prelims.

Pat Sabatini has won his last couple of fights coming into his UFC debut, he’s trying to extend that streak and perform on the biggest stage he’s ever been on. Tristan Connelly has a five fight winning streak going including a successful UFC debut, but he’s been out of action since September of 2019 and now has to almost reintroduce himself to the UFC audience. Sabatini is your -245 favorite against +195 on Connelly.

Featherweight Bout: Tristan Connelly (14-6, 146 lbs.) vs. Pat Sabatini (13-3, 146 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Connelly is two inches taller while Sabatini has two inches of reach advantage. Connelly coming forward early, Sabatini circling and switching his stance. Sabatini lands a bit of a right. Quick combination from Sabatini then a leg kick. Connelly walks into a right hook and drops, pulling Sabatini on top of him. Sabatini in half guard on top and starts looking to work. A few rights from Sabatini. Connelly is trying to sit up and get his half guard working, he’s after a sweep but Sabatini is avoiding that. Lefts from Sabatini. Sabatini threatens an arm triangle and uses that to get the back with a full body triangle. Punches from Sabatini and he’s trying to open up choke options. Connelly will defend from there until the end of the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Sabatini

ROUND TWO: Both men come out swinging. More pressure from Connelly. Sabatini lands a few lefts. Double leg from Sabatini, well timed and he’s got Connelly down without incident though in full guard. Some elbows from Connelly. Sabatini lands body shots, he’s looking to pass and does so into side control. Elbow from Sabatini as he gets control in the position. Sabatini goes into half guard again trying for full mount. Another pass from Sabatini, he gets the back in transition and grabs a Suloev stretch but can’t finish it as Connelly defends but winds up on bottom again. Sabatini gets the back yet again as Connelly tried to fight out of a mounted crucifix and locks up the body triangle again. Some punches from Sabatini, he’s dominating this fight. Sabatini goes just one hook, is he setting up a twister? If he’s thinking about it he doesn’t go for it, he gets the body triangle back as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-8 Sabatini, 20-17 Sabatini overall

ROUND THREE: Sabatini circling again as Connelly looks to push forward. They clinch up and hit the fence. Punches are traded as they separate. Another clinch, and they hit the fence again. Sabatini looks for a single leg but can’t get it. They trade in the clinch, Connelly is fishing for a standing guillotine but can’t find it. Sabatini with body shots while they battle for position. Body shots from Sabatini and one to the head as they break. Connelly lands a right then avoids a takedown attempt. Bit of a left from Sabatini as they break a clinch. Glancing right from Connelly. Sabatini lands a right. They clinch up again, and Connelly gets an outside reap and lands on top in half guard. They trade leg lock attempts, but nothing comes of it before the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Connelly, 29-27 Sabatini overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Pat Sabatini via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

OK, fire the judge who gave Sabatini the third. Mic time for Sabatini, he says there’s no where he’d rather be and puts over Connelly as a tough opponent. He anticipated the war and knows there are no easy fights in the UFC.

Karl Roberson has gone 4-3 in the UFC but is coming off of a loss to Marvin Vettori, he’s trying to bounce back with a win and avoid his first ever losing streak. Brendan Allen just had a seven fight winning streak that included three wins in the UFC snapped by Sean Strickland. Allen is trying to bounce back and avoid his first losing streak. The odds are with Allen at -165 to +130 for Roberson.

Middleweight Bout: Brendan Allen (15-4, 186 lbs.) vs. Karl Roberson (9-3, 185 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Allen has an inch of height and reach over Roberson. Southpaw for Roberson. Allen comes out kicking to the body. Some stance switching from Roberson, Allen lands a leg kick. Roberson lands a left. Hard leg kick from Allen. Allen lands a right, and forces a clinch on the fence. Takedown from Allen, he lands in full guard and he’s a little cut around the right eye. Half guard for Allen now and he’s working on passing again. Roberson is trying to wall walk, Allen mounts his legs as he sits on the fence. Roberson back up, and taken right back down into half guard. Allen with some serious shoulder pressure trying to set up a pass. Allen is working to isolate the far arm. Roberson hip bumps and they wind up in 50-50 guard playing for leg legs. Allen gets a heel hook and Roberson taps after a second.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Brendan Allen via Submission, Achilles lock, at 4:55 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Allen for his work this evening. Allen gets an interview after that, he says he knew he was safe in the position once his feet were crossed and could just attack. He talks us through the finish, that might actually have been a straight ankle lock now that I get a better look at it. Asked what’s next he would like a rematch with Sean Strickland, but mostly wants to go home and spend time with his kid while getting ready for the arrival of his second.

Take a look here, some high level leg attacks. I’m also more sure that’s a straight ankle lock, I don’t think Allen has the heel hooked so much as he gets all the way under and then has such a nasty bite with his grip that the arch twists things and forces the tap.

Dwight Grant has gone 2-2 in the UFC but he’s coming off of his first knockout loss and is trying to avoid his first ever losing streak. Stefan Sekulic dropped his UFC debut but that was way back in September of 2018 and he’s been out of action ever since, now he’s trying to reintroduce himself to the UFC audience and get that all important first promotional win. Grant is the -220 favorite while a Sekulic win would payout at +170.

Welterweight Bout: Dwight Grant (10-3, 170 lbs.) vs. Stefan Sekulic (12-3, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Grant is an inch taller and has half an inch of reach advantage but is also seven years older. Southpaw for Sekulic. Bit of a right from Grant. Both men are looking for openings, not a ton of feinting. Sekulic misses a high kick. Grant lands a right to the body. Sekulic lands a body kick and eats a counter inside leg kick. Jumping knee from Sekulic lands to the body. Grant has a couple of punches blocked. Not a whole lot of success for either man thus far. Sekulic punches close and gets a double leg against the fence. Some lefts from Sekulic, Grant wall walks but eats more punches and the round ends in the clinch.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Sekulic

ROUND TWO: Grant showing the lead hand as the round begins. Bit of a right from Grant. They trade a few leg kicks but again, not a whole lot. Grant avoids a double leg attempt and lands a right hand. Right from Sekulic wobbles Grant, then they both miss in close. Sekulic is coming forward more now, but still now a whole lot of success from either of them. Bit of a left from Sekulic. Double leg from Sekulic and he’s got Grant down into half guard away from the fence. Grant is able to shift and roll Sekulic a bit and force a scramble which results in both men back on the feet circling. Stiff jab from Sekulic. They clinch up again, hit the fence, and ice the last 10 seconds.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Sekulic, 20-18 Sekulic overall

ROUND THREE: Grant has a high kick blocked. Grant hits a double leg into full guard. Sekulic looks for an attack, Grant stands free and forces a stand up. Bit of a right from Grant. Sekulic lands a left. Grant lands a right to the body. Double leg from Sekulic, they hit the fence and he finishes the takedown. Grant looks to wall walk, he’s up and free rather quickly. Sekulic lands a straight left. Right hook from Sekulic then Grant avoids his double leg attempt. Bit of a right from Grant. Sekulic with a glancing high kick. Grant gets a bit of a right, Sekulic lands a left. A left from Sekulic badly hurts Grant, and he gets him down along the fence. Sekulic grabs an arm in guillotine on the ground, locks up full guard and squeezes for all he’s worth but Grant holds on until the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Sekulic, 30-27 Sekulic overall

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Dwight Grant via split decision (28-29, 29-28 x2)

OK, what the hell was that? Mic time for Grant, he says he expected to knockout Sekulic quickly but ultimately feels good about the win. He says the guillotine at the end was tight but he got out. He puts over his coaches for their work.

Alex Oliveira has gone just 2-4 in his last six fights and was submitted after missing weight in his last fight, he’s trying to get back on the winning side of things here and likely needs the win to remain a somewhat relevant fighter in the division. Randy Brown has gone 3-2 in his last five fights but was knocked out by Vicente Luque in his last fight, he’s trying to rebound with a win and avoid his first ever losing streak. The odds are closer for this one but favor Brown at -150 to Oliveira’s +115.

Welterweight Bout: Randy Brown (12-4, 171 lbs.) vs. Alex Oliveira (22-9-1 2 NC, 171 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Brown is four inches taller and has an inch and a half of reach advantage. Both men come out jabbing, and Brown lands a leg kick. Brown looks significantly larger than Oliveira as they stand by each other. Oliveira lands a calf kick. Another calf kick from Oliveira. They clash on front kicks, Oliveira got kicked in the groin so we’ve got time. Replay confirms the low blow but Oliveira wants to keep going quickly. A couple of hard leg kicks from Oliveira, those are adding up. Brown lands a solid right. Another right from Brown floors Oliveira, he gets on top and starts looking to pound him out. Leg drag for Brown and he’s slipping towards mount. Some lefts from Brown as Oliveira wall walks but they’re still clinched. Brown grabs the choke with one hand, jumps to the back and gets the tap with more or less just one arm on the rear naked choke.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Randy Brown via Submission, rear naked choke, at 2:50 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Brown for his work this evening. Mic time for Brown, he pimps his twitch channel if you want to know the details of his beef with Oliveira. He talks us through some highlights, and puts over his grappling coach for all his work that led to the finish. To close gives love to Jamaica.

Hard to go into everything about how difficult this is to pull off, but you need long arms, a grip on your opponents shoulder if not your own, and the ability to get your own head into the compression. You don’t see these often even in pure grappling.

Well that’s it for prelims, on to PPV for the main card.

Anthony Smith has gone 2-3 in his last five fights, but did win his last bout and is trying to defend his top ten ranking while getting his first winning streak since 2018. Jimmy Crute has gone 4-1 in the UFC and is on a two fight winning streak with both of those being finishes, he’s looking to take out the biggest name he’s been in the cage with and announce he’s a genuine contender in a division in desperate need of turnover. Crute is your favorite at -210 while the +170 payout on Smith has to be a tempting value bet.

Light Heavyweight Bout: #13 Jimmy Crute (12-1, 205.5 lbs.) vs. #6 Anthony Smith (34-16, 206 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Smith has two inches of height and reach over Crute, he’s also seven years older. Both men circling to start. Crute starts showing long range weapons, jabs and leg kicks mostly. Body kick from Crute, Smith responds with a jab. Crute lands a leg kick. They split jabs. Smith working his jab a bit more now, and eats another leg kick. Stiff left hook from Smith. Crute needs to get his head off the center line when coming forward, or he’s going to keep getting chewed up by that jab. Another leg kick from Crute lands. Smith is still landing his jab though, and that’s a problem from Crute. Both men miss rights, Crute’s right eye is swelling up a bit. Crute lands a leg kick, those are adding up quickly but so are Smith’s jabs. For some reason the crowd would rather chant “Fuck Jake Paul” because he’s in attendance than pay attention to the perfectly good fight happening. They start trading leg kicks, Smith drops Crute with one but Crute gets a takedown from his knees. Smith wall walks but Crute is hanging on his back as he does. Some mat returns from Crute, then a double leg into full guard. Crute’s left leg looks toast, might just have been the calf kick tweaking the nerve but he can hardly walk as the round ends.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Smith

ROUND TWO: Crute’s leg is still not fully recovered after the break between rounds and the doctor waves this off.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Anthony Smith via TKO, doctor stoppage due to leg kicks, at 5:00 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Smith for his work this evening. Mic time for Smith, he says that was a good leg kick and finally feels like he’s setting up his kicks properly. He mentions taking some hard leg kicks but if they’d been at his calf he might have been unable to walk instead of Crute. He puts over Crute as a tough guy with a good coach who’s a monster. To close he says even at his age he’s still working and getting better.

Crute gets an interview. He says Smith was jabbing his face off, but he couldn’t feel his leg and his plan in the second was to pull guard because he can’t feel it. He mentions it’s ANZAC day, the Australian equivalent of Memorial Day, and thanks everyone who gave their life in the service.

The kick that did the damage. Notice how Smith’s toes wrap around behind the knee and dig into that nerve area at the joint. Nasty kick if you can land it, it just deadens the leg.

Uriah Hall is on three fight winning streak but he’s been with the UFC since 2013 and if he wants to make a serious run at the title he’s running out of time, making this a potentially critical juncture as he takes on his second former UFC champion tonight. Chris Weidman is also at a notable crossroad, he’s a former middleweight champion but has gone just 2-5 in his last seven fights. Now Weidman is coming off of a win but if he wants to make good on his stated plans of getting back to the title he cannot afford a loss here. The odds are close here, but lean towards Weidman at -135 to a +105 comeback on Hall.

Middleweight Bout: #9 Uriah Hall (16-9, 185 lbs.) vs. #11 Chris Weidman (15-5, 186 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Weidman is two inches taller while Hall has an inch and a half of reach advantage. They touch gloves to get us going. Leg kick from Weidman, but he breaks his shin! Oh my word.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER – Uriah Hall via TKO, leg injury, at :17 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Mr. Hall for his work this evening. I hope Weidman gets treatment right away, that was a horrible injury. Mic time for Hall, he has nothing but respect for Weidman and mentions that Weidman was the first man to beat him and despite all their path divergences Weidman was the first man to beat Anderson Silva in the UFC and he was the last. He wishes well to Weidman and his family and hopes Weidman recovers and says he owes Weidman a rematch when he’s ready.

OK, here’s the clip. I’m warning you in advance, if you’re squeamish or just don’t want to see it for whatever reason scroll further down. Hall just turns the leg out to check, Weidman’s kick hits just below the knee which is one of the worst places to land, and his shin snaps.

This is one of the very few fights I can think of where the winner didn’t even throw a single strike. I know Ovince Saint Preux beat Yushin Okami without landing a strike, but I’m not sure if he threw one or not.

Jessica Andrade is a former strawweight champion and just broke a two fight losing streak when she moved up to flyweight and promptly body punched Katlyn Chookagian into a first round stoppage. Andrade is trying to join the elite club of fighters to win titles in multiple weight classes, as well as take down one of the more dominant women the UFC has right now. Valentina Shevchenko is the reigning UFC flyweight champion, hasn’t lost at that weight ever, has defended that title four times, and is generally regarded as one of the best all around technicians on the female side of things. Shevchenko is trying to add a second former UFC champion to her list of victims and continue extending her legacy in the sport. Shevchenko is a heavy favorite at -455 while Andrade’s comeback sits at +350.

Women’s Flyweight Title Bout: (c) Valentina Shevchenko (20-3, 124.5 lbs.) vs. #1 Jessica Andrade (21-8, 124.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Shevchenko is three and a half inches taller and has four and a half inches of reach advantage. Southpaw for Shevchenko per usual. Some long range kicks from Shevchenko early, and probing with the jab. Andrade with a bit of a right to the body. Shevchenko lands a left to the head. One two from Shevchenko. Shevchenko gets a body lock takedown into side control. Andrade quickly scrambles up, and Shevchenko takes her down again. Again Andrade is back up but Shevchenko is holding her back. Some knees to the thigh from Shevchenko then a high kick is blocked as they break. Three punch combination from Shevchenko then a straight left. They clinch up and hit the fence. Andrade with some body shots while they fight for position. Shevchenko with a trip takedown into half guard. Shevchenko after the choke but has no hooks, the angle is a bit off and Andrade should be fine. Andrade gets the choke off but Shevchenko gets the back with one hook in in the ride position. All the way up now for Andrade but she’s clinched and eating knees to the leg and head. Another takedown from Shevchenko into side control. Some punches from Shevchenko and the round ends in that spot.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Shevchenko, almost 10-8 based on how wide the margin was

ROUND TWO: Andrade trying to come forward this round, but she’s just following Shevchenko around. Shevchenko with a couple of rights, then they clinch and she gets a body lock takedown into half guard again. Andrade is just holding on trying to control posture, she’s got very little here on her back. Shevchenko with a few elbows, Andrade up to her knees and looks for a single leg on Shevchenko. Shevchenko defending against the fence and stops her attempt. Andrade threw around bantamweights from that spot. Another body lock takedown from Shevchenko into side control. Shevchenko is both physically strong and technically great in these spots. Mounted crucifix for Shevchenko and she starts landing punches and elbows. More elbows from Shevchenko, Andrade can’t get free and the ref has to save her.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER and STILL UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion – Valentina Shevchenko via TKO, elbows, at 3:19 of Round 2

There is no one at 125 for Shevchenko right now, that was never competitive. Mic time for the champ, she says she likes surprising people and wanted to show off she can do everything. She saw the blood on Andrade and knew she could force a stoppage once that was in play. Asked who or what is next, she says anyone who wants to fight her can find her easily. To close she speaks first in Russian then Spanish to her fans in all languages that goes untranslated.

Andrade gets an interview as well, she was surprised by how heavy the grappling attack was as she thought there would be more striking early but she knew Shevchenko was a takedown monster. She plans to get back to the gym and keep getting better.

Rose Namajunas is a former UFC strawweight champion and has gone 4-1 in her last five fights including a win over Jessica Andrade last year. Namajunas is trying to make a bit of history tonight, if she wins she’ll be the first female fighter in UFC history to reclaim a title after losing it. Zhang Weili has a 21 fight winning streak going that includes winning the strawweight title then defending it in 2020’s Fight of the Year against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Zhang is trying to extend her championship legacy by taking out another former champion. The odds are a little further apart than I expected with Zhang at -200 while the +165 payout on Namajunas is a tempting value bet if you’re into that sort of thing.

Strawweight Title Bout: (c) Zhang Weili (21-1, 114.5 lbs.) vs. #1 Rose Namajunas (9-4, 114.5 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Namajunas is an inch taller and has two inches of reach advantage. Both women light on their feet to start. Namajunas showing the jab and trying to feint Zhang into committing. Zhang lands an inside leg kick, Namajunas lands a jab. Hard jab from Namajunas. Zhang is working the inside leg kick, she’s trying to hamper the movement of Namajunas. Namajunas absolutely demolishes Namajunas with a lead leg head kick and we’re done.

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER and NEW UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion – Rose Namajunas via KO, head kick, at 1:18 of Round 1

The First Round Finish Club thanks Ms. Namajunas for her work this evening. Namajunas is the first woman to reclaim a UFC title after losing it. Mic time for the new champion, she says she’s the best after giving glory to God. She talks us through the finish, Rogan gets emotional, and she says she never meant to attack Zhang as person in the build up and plans to put some time and money into helping build love between people.

Mic time for Zhang now, she feels she can return quickly from the loss and loses her words a little bit. Asked about the stoppage now that she’s seen the replay she claims she never lost consciousness and feels the stoppage was a little early. Look, I appreciate her fighting spirit but boy was that fully justified.

Here’s the finish. Zhang thinks that kick is coming low and inside, and pays horribly for that misread.

Jorge Masvidal just had a three fight winning streak snapped when he stepped in on less than a weeks notice to battle for the welterweight title last year. Tonight Masvidal is getting his second crack at the belt, and with a full training camp looking to be the one to halt the incredible run the champion is currently on. Kamaru Usman is the UFC welterweight champion, currently holds a 17 fight winning streak that has seen him claim the title, defend it three times, and arguably place himself among the all time greats of the division. Usman is trying to turn back Masvidal a second time and continue climbing the ranks of all time greats. Usman is a heavy favorite at -435 to +315 for Masvidal.

Welterweight Title Bout: (c) Kamaru Usman (18-1, 169.5 lbs.) vs. #4 Jorge Masvidal (35-14, 170 lbs.)

ROUND ONE: Usman is an inch taller and has two inches of reach advantage. Masvidal feinting early. Usman jabs the body, Masvidal lands a leg kick. More leg kicks from Masvidal, with Usman’s knee issues that’s smart. Some stance switching from Usman in motion now. Usman lands a right. Bit of a left hook from Masvidal. Masvidal lands a right to the body. Usman keeps jabbing the body as a measure and set up tool. Body kick from Masvidal, Usman with a right hook. Jumping knee from Masvidal but that just lets Usman take him down into full guard. They trade short blows on the mat, some decent elbows from Masvidal. Usman lands an elbow. More elbows from Masvidal, he wall walks to his knees then all the way up. Usman with a go behind, but Masvidal slips free and they break. Inside leg kick from Masvidal. Usman lands a right, then a jab behind it. Masvidal avoids a bit of a rush and lands a body kick. Short counter right from Masvidal. Masvidal with another couple of leg kicks, those are adding up a bit. Another jumping knee from Masvidal, partially lands. They kind of stare away the round.

SCORECARD: 10-9 Masvidal but could go either way

ROUND TWO: Masvidal showing long weapons again. Inside leg kick from Masvidal, then an outside one. They both land rights then trade leg kicks. Usman absolutely OBLITERATES Masvidal with a stepping overhand right! Holy crap!

OFFICIAL RESULT: †WINNER and STILL UFC Welterweight Champion – Kamaru Usman via KO, PUNCH, at 1:02 of Round 2

First time since 2009 Masvidal has been finished at all, and you have to go all the way back to 2008 for the last time someone stopped him with strikes. Mic time for the champ, he says Jacksonville wanted violence and “you’re welcome”. He gives respect to Masvidal for pushing him to this kind of performance, and warns everyone he’s still getting better. That is a truly terrifying thought. He says his coaches kept him on the fundamentals and when he stays on those he feels he’s the pound for pound best guy on the planet. To close he thanks the fans, Masvidal, then shows off his father who’s finally out of prison and hopes everyone gets home safe.

Mic time for Masvidal, he says that’s the first time he’s ever been knocked out. He feels he got over confident, Usman won fair and square and God bless him. He tells his kids that he’s fine and he’ll be fine, thanks the fans for being here and whether he wins or loses he thanks God for being as blessed as he is on this journey.

Check this out. If you watch closely watch Usman’s left hand, he reaches through the guard and hand traps the rear hand of Masvidal which removes his ability to block with it. That more or less opens up the punching lane as he times the left of Masvidal and he cleans his clock with the power hand right. Really slick stuff.

In the back Covington gets an interview, he says Usman shouldn’t celebrate beating a journeyman like that and that if Colby lost his next 12 fights he’d still have a better record than Masvidal. He thought the finish was possible, but he plans on out wrestling Usman when they rematch. Asked what has to go differently he mentions his new team and gym and he plans on putting a higher pace this time as he got sucked into Usman’s pace last time. They did that because Covington has next for the title per Dana White, and I’m down for a rematch between those two all things considered.

As an injury update, Jimmy Crute will be getting some imaging done soon and Weidman is scheduled for surgery tomorrow hopefully all goes well for both men.

On that somewhat positive note UFC 261 comes to an end. Um, I’ve got a note here that I’m supposed to relay. It just says “The Decisionatti are not pleased”. OK then? Anyway, we’ll unpack all of this on the 411 Ground and Pound MMA Podcast tomorrow. I’ll preview next weeks card as well but I will NOT be here for it. It sucks breaking my near decade long streak of MMA coverage here at 411, but my dad is getting married on Saturday. So if someone else pops up here please be kind, and if not please tell them not to shut things down in my absence. I will be back next Sunday to review the card and preview the next one on the podcast and will be back for the May 8th card. Unless I get sick again and can’t travel, then I’ll be here next week. Until next time everyone, thanks again for being here your support means the world. Stay safe out there, and keep checking 411mania for all of your pop culture needs.

article topics :

UFC 261, Robert Winfree