Tag Archives: UFC 261

UFC 261 Fallout: Untouchable Usman, Best card of all time?

The UFC put on potentially their greatest ever event at UFC 261 as the returning fans were treated to a stunning fight card in Jacksonville, Florida.

A 13 fight card saw nine brilliant finishes and produced moments that will be remembered forever in the sport, culminating in a new champion being crowned and an Earth-shattering knockout in the main event.

Welteweight champion Kamaru Usman took on Jorge Masvidal for the second time in the space of ten months, promising to win this fight in more dominant fashion than the first and boy did he deliver. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ made it three knockout wins in his last four fights, with a stunning right hand putting ‘Gamebred’s lights out for the first time in his career.

It was exactly the type of statement he intended to make, sleeping his rival in the second round to move to 14-0 in the UFC to move closer to the record 16-0 start Anderson Silva made to his UFC career.

After the fight Usman thanked Masvidal for pushing him to elevate his game further, while the now 50-fight veteran made zero excuses and simply said that Usman ‘had his number’. Usman’s performance solidified that despite being a champion and now defending that belt four times, he continues to get better and better in every performance he has in the octagon.

It’s likely to set up a fight against Colby Covington later this year, with Dana White confirming that he is the number one contender. The two fought in Usman’s first title defence back in 2019, with the champ knocking ‘Chaos’ out in fifth-round and leaving him with a broken jaw.

For now, he will enjoy the conversations around him about being the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world right now and it’s incredibly hard to argue against. He has the best wrestling in the entire division by a distance, his chin is made of granite, he has terrific conditioning, is only 33 and his hands are becoming increasingly more effective. It’s hard to see anyone being able to stop him in the near future, or potentially ever at his current rate.

MMA: APR 24 UFC 261 : News Photo

In the co-main event, ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas became the first woman ever to regain a title she previously held when she knocked out Weili Zhang in the first round with a brutal head-kick. Weili wasn’t able to get her offence going as Rose bounced in and out of range throughout the first minute or so, then faked a low kick and went high to score the finish.

It was a top performance from Rose, and while the next contender isn’t known just yet the attention will now be on her once again. She seems to be more ready for what comes with being champion this time around though and with skills like hers all eyes will be on how she grows as a mixed martial artist in coming fights.

Valentina Shevchenko also confirmed her status as one of the most complete martial artists in the world, regardless of gender, as she dominated Jessica Andrade from start to finish in their title bout before getting a TKO finish in the second round.

It was supposed to be the toughest fight of her flyweight reign so far and yet it couldn’t have been more one-sided. A potential superfight against Weili is off the table now, while a trilogy with Amanda Nunes seems highly unlikely with White not interested and both fighters seemingly making it clear that they’re on different paths.

A tremendous card wasn’t without it’s down side though, as a cruel twist of fate saw Chris Weidman suffer a horrific leg break just 17 seconds into his fight with Uriah Hall.

UFC 261: Usman v Masvidal 2 : News Photo

In almost identical fashion to what happened in his second fight with Anderson Silva, Weidman threw a leg kick that Hall checked with his knee. Weidman’s leg folded as his shin bone completely shattered and the fight was called off immediately.

It was revealed after the card ended that he was stable and in hospital to undergo surgery and the hope is that he will eventually be able to return to the octagon just like Silva did.

UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2 – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Ariane Carnelossi def Liang Na via Knockout, Round 2 (1:28)

Super fast start to this fight as the two women meet in the middle and Na lands a big right hand that drops Carnelossi to one knee immediately! Na pushes for a finish with a clinch and knee, then Na drops for a takedown. They scramble and Na ends up on top landing some nice ground and pound, but Carnelossi is defending quite well considering. Carnelossi gets back to her feet and lands some nice right hands, but Na gets another takedown and ends up on top again. Carnelossi threatens with an armbar from her back but Na defends it and ends up on bottom, but then she throws up an armbar of her own! Carnelossi defends it and ends on top landing big ground and pound strikes. Carnelossi takes the back of Na but is able to avoid. Carnelossi transitions to a mounted triangle during a scramble and lands some big shots on the ground as the round closes out! What a round! 10-9 Carnelossi.

Fast start to the second round again as Na lands a nice head kick and goes for a flurry of punches before a judo throw takes the fight to the ground again. Carnelossi is able to take the back of Na after escaping a headlock and starts raining down ground and pound once again. The referee tells Na to defend herself, she doesn’t and he stops the fight! Hugely impressive win for Carnelossi.

Jeffrey Molina def Aoriqileng via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x2, 29-27)

A strong start to the round from Aoriqileng steps forward and starts walking Molina down early, backing him against the cage and cutting off the angles. Molina moving well and trying to counter Aoriqileng but the Chinese fighter staying long and landing well. Nice flurry in the clinch as Aoriqileng looks to take the fight down but Molina is scrambling well and fighting it off. A bit of a stalemate between both men as they trade clinch knees. Both men just miss with the right hand as they separate but the round ends without too much more action. 10-9 Aoriqileng.

Molina trying to keep off the cage at the start of this round but Aoriqileng’s pressure paying off right now as he uses his length well. Molina landing his left jab well as he circles but Aoriqileng is throwing his counter right hand well and it’s landing hard and flush too. Both men throwing bombs in the middle of the octagon now and Molina lands a nice one-two that sits Aoriqileng down! Aoriqileng returns fire and as Molina throws a high kick it gets caught and then he gets dropped with a right hand too! Molina starts to circle and move backwards again and as Aoriqileng throws a lazy kick right at the end of the round, Molina lands a perfect right hand that drops him! Molina goes for the finish but the buzzer goes. 19-19!

Aoriqileng is coming forward in this final round and “fighting angry” according to the commentary team but he’s landing some nice right hands with the extra pressure. Molina moving well though and landing his jab well and great counter shots. Aoriqileng shoots for a takedown but Molina stuffs it really well and keeps the fight standing. Molina starting to throw some great combinations and is throwing in body shots too. Big left hand from Molina forces Aoriqileng to cover up and Molina is starting to pick him apart now. Big elbow as Aoriqileng is starting to slow down and eat these big shots. Big body shot followed up with a clean one-two and Molina is picking him apart as we enter the final minute. Aoriqileng throwing back but just eating so many shots and taking so much damage. Molina bites down and looks for a finish with 10 seconds to go but gets rocked! Aoriqileng goes for a finish but the round ends. 29-28 Molina.

Kazula Vargas def Rongzhu via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 29-28 x2)

A much more composed start to this fight from both fighters as Vargas looks to get some offence off early with feints and some low kicks. Vargas is landing really well, striking first and hard as Rongzhu seems to have a case of the nerves. A couple more low kicks lands and sends Rongzhu to the mat. Both guys land nice right hands simultaneously but as Vargas lands first Rongzhu is missing with the majority of his counters as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Vargas.

Second round sees Rongzhu come out fast and take the centre and a quick takedown attempt but Vargas defends well. A second attempt sees Vargas synch in a guillotine and it’s tiiiight! Rongzhu fighting the legs(?) of the closed guard from Vargas as he squeezes the choke, but Rongzhu refusing to tap and staying calm. Vargas blowing his load squeezing and eventually Rongzhu escapes and starts landing some ground and pound and riding Vargas. He tries to take his back but Vargas is able to escape it and ends up on top again with top control. Rongzhu eventually gets back to his feet and shoots for another takedown as the round ends, close round. 20-18 Vargas for me though.

Vargas being very patient in this final round as he looks a bit more fatigued and almost expects to be winning the fight currently. Rongzhu flicking out his jab and looking to land a straight right hand, but Vargas keeps coming forward. Rongzhu lands a huge right hand on the chin but Vargas eats it and lands a jab, before Rongzhu lands a big right again on Vargas’ entry that drops him to one knee. Vargas landing his jab well now as Rongzhu starts to walk him down in the final 90 seconds. Vargas keeps circling away and Rongzhu almost chasing him now. Rongzhu shoots for a takedown and after a scramble ends up on top with 10 seconds to go, landing ground and pound. Close round again, 29-28 Vargas in the end for me.

Batgerel Danaa def Kevin Natividad via Knockout, Round 1 (0:50)

Natividad starts quickly, rushing in with a couple of heavy right hands. Danaa throws a front kick that just misses and a right hand that lands on the temple. Natividad charges forward and Danaa steps forward, slips the punch, switches stances and lands a stunning left hook that puts Natividad down! Danaa lands some heavy ground and pound and the referee steps in to end the fight! What a knockout!

PRELIMS

Patrick Sabatini def Tristan Connelly via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Lots of pressure from Connelly early on as he forces Sabatini backwards and looks to flick out his jab and land a right hand down the pipe. Sabatini moving well and quickly changes direction to land a right hand that drops Connelly! Sabatini moves into top position quickly and starts working to pass guard, landing some short shots and forcing Connelly to defend from the bottom. Sabatini moves into an arm triangle position and Connelly gives up his back immediately, which allows Sabatini to lock in a body triangle and look to work for a rear naked choke. Sabatini starts landing some punches to try and open up the neck for the choke but Connelly is defending the hands really well and manages to see out the round. 10-9 Sabatini.

Connelly comes out in the same way as the first, with lots of pressure to back Sabatini against the cage moving backwards. Sabatini nice and calm though and eventually changes levels and lands a power double leg takedown to end up in top position early on. Sabatini avoids the upkicks of Connelly and moves into side control before looking to step into mount, but ends up in half guard. Sabatini floats through and ends up taking the back and is looking for a submission but Connelly escapes and continues to get dominated. Sabatini takes the back and locks in a body triangle again, then moves for an arm triangle and then takes the back again. Connelly is defending the submissions well but Sabatini is in complete control and sees out the round in control again. 20-18 Sabatini.

Sabatini and Connelly both spend the entire first half of the final round competing in the clinch, exchanging knees and positions against the cage but next to no strikes thrown between them. Connelly throws a solid right hand that lands on the chin, and Sabatini immediately shoots for the takedown but Connelly stuffs it well. Connelly walking Sabatini down as we enter the final minute and lands a nice overhand right, but Sabatini clinches up again to slow the fight down. Connelly gets a nice trip and ends up on top with 30 seconds to go, but Sabatini defends well and grabs a leg to stifle any attacks and the round ends. 29-28 Sabatini but it was a much more lopsided fight than that will suggest.

Brendan Allen def Karl Roberson via Submission (Straight Ankle Lock), Round 1 (4:55)

Fast start to the fight as both men open up with a head kick attempt, throwing heavy shots behind them too. Roberson throwing his left hand well and lands his jab nicely too, before a big right hand cracks Allen. Allen steps forward with a left straight and the two clinch up, which allows Allen to get the takedown against the cage. He’s able to step over into mount while Roberson is upright against the cage, but he keeps his chin tucked and is able to fight off the guillotine attempt. Allen overpowers him and is able to move him across the octagon and starts controlling on top again. Roberson looks to attack a leg to escape, but that allows Allen to grab a leg too. Allen then torques on an ankle lock and leans back and Roberson taps! Beautiful submission win from Allen!

Dwight Grant def Stefan Sekulic via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)

A conservative start from both fighters as Sekulic takes the centre and pumps out a jab along with some feints, while Grant is looking to get his range with feelers and feints of his own. Sekulic is trying not to rush in and get Grant on the end of his punches but Grant doing well to avoid for the most part. Head kick from Sekulic but Grant returns fire with a heavy low kick. Sekulic coming forward again and leaps in with a flying knee that just grazes Grant. Sekulic shoots in for a takedown in the final 30 seconds and gets it to probably snatch the round. 10-9 Sekulic.

A slow start once again to the second round as they continue to try and establish range and set traps for each other, but not much action in the opening minute or so. Sekulic shoots for a takedown but Grant stuffs it well, then throws a big right hand that wobbles Sekulic! He goes in to land a few more shots but Sekulic threatens with a knee up the middle and then a spinning wheel kick that both just miss and they both reset. Wild left hook from Grant just misses the chin of Sekulic as both guys trade low calf kicks before Sekulic shoots in deep for a takedown again and gets it. Sekulic starts trying to advance but Grant pops up to his feet with 45 seconds left in the round. Sekulic shoots in again and they clinch against the cage to end the round. 20-18 Sekulic.

Grant comes out with a bit more urgency in this round, and gets an early takedown of his own to end up on top. Sekulic looks for a shoulder lock off his back but Grant defends it, lands some big ground and pound strikes then gets up to bring the fight back up to the feet. Sekulic doing really well to stay at distance and gets a takedown of his own, but Grant gets back up quickly. Sekulic is landing nice straight shots with good movement and he lands a big shot that drops Grant! He moves in for a finish and sinks in a deeeeep guillotine attempt and just as Grant is going out the buzzer goes to end the round! 30-27 Sekulic, great performance from him.

Randy Brown def Alex Oliveira via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (2:50)

A very intense start from both fighters as Brown comes out hard looking to do damage. Cowboy responds with lateral movement and some nice leg kicks that are causing problems early for Brown. Cowboy throws three, four more kicks and Brown drops down to one knee. Brown comes forward again and clips him with a left before he lands a BOMB of a right hand to drop Oliveira! Brown goes for the kill with ground and pound but Cowboy starts to grab him and eventually survives. Brown gets to mount and then takes the back of Cowboy who’s fighting the hands, but then Brown gets one arm under the chin. Oliveira fights the other hand to stop a grip but Brown presses his hand against the shoulder of Cowboy and eventually brings Cowboy down to force the tap with a one-handed rear-naked choke! Wow! What a performance!

MAIN CARD

Anthony Smith def Jimmy Crute via Knockout (Doctor Stoppage), Round 1 (5:00)

Slow start to this one as it takes around a minute for both guys to start engaging, with Crute opting for low kicks and Smith landing nice jabs. Crute’s leg kicks are having an early effect on the movement of Smith so far, but the jab is landing clean and often and has stunned Crute! Smith lands a big, clean right hand and works Crute out. Smith returns a huge leg kick of his own that lands just behind the knee and Crute’s leg gives way completely. Crute shoots for a takedown and ends the round on top but he’s in trouble.

Between rounds the doctor examines Crute and waves the fight off as he can barely walk without it giving way. Crazy ending!

Uriah Hall def Chris Weidman via Knockout (Broken Leg), Round 1 (0:17)

Chris Weidman threw a leg kick and his leg has snapped in half! Oh my God! The literal first kick of the entire fight. Oh my goodness that is horrific. Get well soon Weidman.

******TRIGGER WARNING*****

Valentina Shevchenko def Jessica Andrade via Knockout, Round 2 (3:19)

Very composed start from both ladies, as Shevchenko flicks a jab and then lands a nice one-two down the middle. Andrade misses with a couple of leg kicks and then Shevchenko closes the distance quickly and gets a takedown! Shevchenko dominating the position as Andrade gets back up and then dragged back down again. Shevchenko just misses with a head kick as they break, but then they clinch up again and Shevchenko trips her. She works for position and ends up on Andrade’s back and sinks an arm under the chin but the angle doesn’t allow the squeeze for a choke. She lets Andrade back up, holds her in place and then drags her down one more time to end the round in top position. 10-9, could argue a 10-8 maybe.

Both women come into the middle to start the round and after a short flurry between them both, Shevchenko overpowers Andrade and slams her to the mat once again. Andrade gets back up and pushes her against the cage but Shevchenko is overpowering Andrade and not allowing her to lift her for a takedown. Shevchenko then once again rag dolls Andrade and trips her down to the mat. Shevchenko quickly moves from side control and into a crucifix position and starts hammering away on Andrade’s face. Andrade trying to defend but Shevchenko turns the punches into elbows and the referee mercifully stops the fight. What a performance!

Rose Namajunas def Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 1 (1:18)

Nice start from both women as Rose bounces around on the outside while Zhang throws some low kicks. Rose lands a jab and steps out to avoid a big right hand from Zhang. Namajunas fakes a low kick and goes to the chin and Zhang is OUT!! Rose lands three follow up shots and the referee steps in to wave it off! It’s over! AND NEWWWW!

Kamaru Usman def Jorge Masvidal via Knockout, Round 2 (1:02)

Tense start to the title fight as Usman takes the centre of the cage and looks to land his excellent jab, while Masvidal is throwing some leg kicks. Usman lands a big overhand right flush on the chin but Masvidal shouts in his face after eating it. A few tighter exchanges and Masvidal goes for a flying knee, but Usman catches it and dumps him on his back. Masvidal fights get his full guard and starts throwing elbows from the bottom, but Usman stays strong on top and prevents him from getting back up to his feet too quickly but he eventually does. Usman lands a right hand and then a jab but Masvidal responds with a flurry of strikes and a big knee as the round ends. Close round, but 10-9 Usman for me.

Both men standing in the centre, not looking to give up an inch as Masvidal throws a few leg kicks to keep distance. Usman drops his level and throws a huge right straight that knocks Masvidal out cold!!!! Usman follows up with heavy ground and pound and the referee steps in! AND STILLLL!! What a knockout!

UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2 – Main card predictions

The UFC is back in front of a packed, sold-out arena for UFC 261 as Kamaru Usman defends his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal for a second time in Jacksonville, Florida.

The two fought at UFC 251 on Fight Island last year with Usman earning a unanimous decision win, but this time with a full camp ‘Gamebred’ looks to fulfil his destiny rather than confirm his journeyman status as he goes for gold.

In the co-main events, Weili Zhang defends her strawweight title for the second time as she takes on former champion Rose Namajunas where a win would make her the most dominant 115lbs champion ever.

Valentina Shevchenko also takes on the biggest threat to her flyweight crown yet as Jessica Andrade looks to become the champion in just her second fight in the division.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 24 we managed to go 5/10 on the night with two perfect picks to move to 284/449 (63.25%) with 127 perfect picks (44.72%) in history.

With 13 fights on this card we’ll split the predictions into three parts and having already predicted the early prelims and the rest of the prelims here, lets move on to the main card.


Anthony Smith (34-16) vs Jimmy Crute (12-1) – (Light Heavyweight/205lbs)

A true veteran vs prospect bout as former title challenger Anthony Smith takes on the highly rated Jimmy Crute. Smith bounced back from consecutive defeats to Glover Teixeira and Aleksandar Rakic at UFC Vegas 8 with a triangle-choke submission win over Devin Clark at UFC Vegas 15. Crute on the other hand bounced back from his only career defeat to Misha Cirkunov with stoppage wins over Michal Oleksiejczuk and Modestas Bukauskas at UFC Fight Island 6.

Smith is a former golden gloves champion boxer while also possession a Gracie black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Crute is a powerful striker with a very wrestling heavy approach, with aggression and power in everything he does. Smith’s takedown defence is not the greatest at just 51% in his UFC career and if he’s on his back he does sometimes just shell up. Crute is so aggressive he could leave himself open for submissions against a guy who is very good at applying them and finishing but he will surely be aware of that.

Crute will go for takedowns and likely get them, but if the fight does stay on the feet Smith absolutely has the advantage on the feet. Despite that, I can’t look past Crute getting the biggest win of his career.
PICK – Jimmy Crute via Decision

Uriah Hall (17-9) vs Chris Weidman (15-5) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A rematch 11 years in the making in the middleweight division as ‘Prime Time’ takes on the former world champion. Hall has won his last three bouts in a row defeating Bevon Lewis and Antonio Carlos Jr before knocking out Anderson Silva at UFC Vegas 12 in the main event. Weidman had lost five of six via knockout prior to his last fight against Omari Akhmedov, which he won via decision at UFC Vegas 6.

Hall is a fearsome striker with incredible techniques and power, but volume is something he has always struggled with throughout his UFC career. Weidman is a power wrestler who has good submissions, but generally he looks to get takedowns and grind his opponent out from top position. Hall isn’t the best when it comes to takedown defence which helps Weidman hugely, but ‘The All-American’ has been knocked senseless so many times recently and Hall is a great counter-striker which just adds up to violence.

Weidman could easily grind out a great win with top control but Hall could just as easily put his lights out with a single shot and looking at their recent history I’m choosing Hall with something spectacular.
PICK – Uriah Hall via Knockout, Round 3

Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) vs Jessica Andrade (21-8) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The greatest women’s flyweight of all-time takes on the biggest threat to her crown so far as she takes on a former strawweight champion in one of three title fights on this card. Shevchenko has won her last six in a row with three of those coming by finish, although her last bout against Jennifer Maia ended in a judge’s scorecard win. Andrade lost her title to Weili Zhang then lost a rematch to Rose Namajunas at UFC 251 before moving up to 125lbs, defeating Kaitlyn Chookagian via body shots at UFC Fight Island 6.

Shevchenko is arguably the most well rounded women’s fighter around along with Amanda Nunes, with phenomenal striking, clinch work and solid grappling. Andrade however is a powerful wrestler who has incredible power in her punches too. The issues Andrade will have is closing the distance, because Shevchenko is an excellent counter striker and has brilliant footwork to be able to evade it. Andrade is good enough to be able to get in close and land big strikes and threaten takedowns, but from what we’ve seen of both I don’t know if that will be enough to dethrone the flyweight queen.

‘Bullet’ will evade the big slam takedowns, work behind her strikes and eventually land a big counter strike as Andrade starts to fade in the championship rounds.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 4

Weili Zhang (21-1) vs Rose Namajunas (10-4) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

My pick for fight of the night is the strawweight title fight between China’s Weili Zhang and ‘Thug Rose’ Namajunas. Zhang has won 21 fights in a row, including a knockout win over Jessica Andrade to win the title before one of the greatest fights of all-time against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her first defence. Namajunas beat Jedrzejczyk twice before getting slammed on her head to lose the belt to Andrade, although she got her win back at UFC 251 with a split decision win.

Both these women are incredibly well rounded, with 15 submission wins between them but they also both have great striking too. Zhang is by far the more powerful of the two, while Namajunas is the more technical and arguably has a speed advantage between the two also. Namajunas is physically the bigger girl with a height and reach advantage, but Zhang is so much more physically imposing and powerful. I expect the volume of Zhang will be able to eventually start to wear on Namajunas and the power could close the show early.

Namajunas will need to mix it up brilliantly to come out on top here and I think Zhang is just too good for her right now.
PICK – Weili Zhang via Knockout, Round 4

Kamaru Usman (18-1) vs Jorge Masvidal (35-14) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The biggest rematch on the card as the welterweight champion Kamaru Usman makes his second title defence of the year against ‘Gamebred’ Jorge Masvidal. Usman beat Masvidal at UFC 251 last summer and followed that up with a knockout win over former teammate Gilbert Burns at UFC 258. Masvidal hasn’t fought since his defeat to Usman last time out.

Usman is an incredible wrestler but has shown in his more recent fights that he is a more than capable striker too. He has one of the best jabs in the company and has shown a durability in his game now that champions almost always have. Masvidal is a brawler with brilliant kickboxing skills and power in his hands, but he is also an excellent grappler in his own right. The issue is, Usman is just better. Masvidal landed some good shots in the first fight and Usman just walked through them and got takedowns relatively easily so it’s hard to see anything but that happening once again.

‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is promising a finish but Masvidal has only been finished three times in 49 fights prior to this, so I expect the same result as the first fight but in an even more dominant fashion this time around.
PICK – Kamaru Usman via Decision

UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2 – Prelims predictions

The UFC is back in front of a packed, sold-out arena for UFC 261 as Kamaru Usman defends his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal for a second time in Jacksonville, Florida.

The two fought at UFC 251 on Fight Island last year with Usman earning a unanimous decision win, but this time with a full camp ‘Gamebred’ looks to fulfil his destiny rather than confirm his journeyman status as he goes for gold.

In the co-main events, Weili Zhang defends her strawweight title for the second time as she takes on former champion Rose Namajunas where a win would make her the most dominant 115lbs champion ever.

Valentina Shevchenko also takes on the biggest threat to her flyweight crown yet as Jessica Andrade looks to become the champion in just her second fight in the division.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 24 we managed to go 5/10 on the night with two perfect picks to move to 284/449 (63.25%) with 127 perfect picks (44.72%) in history.

With 13 fights on this card we’ll split the predictions into three parts and having already predicted the early prelims, we move on to the rest of the prelims now.


Patrick Sabatini (13-3) vs Tristan Connelly (14-6) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A UFC debut for the submission specialist Patrick Sabatini as he takes on former lightweight Tristan Connelly in the featherweight division. Sabatini has won five of his last six, evenly split 2-2-2 with KO’s, submissions and decisions. Connelly won his last bout at WELTERWEIGHT against Michel Pereira way back in 2019 in his UFC debut.

Sabatini is a brilliant chain wrestler and has a deep submission bag, with seven rear-naked choke wins from nine tap-out wins. Connelly is a wrestler too, who looks to get top position and land some nice ground and pound to grind out wins. A big issue for Connelly is that not only is he coming off a neck injury, but he’s 35 and cutting to 145lbs for the first time in six years.

Sabatini has him beat where he’s strongest and is as good where they’re both weaker so I expect the younger man to get him down, eventually take his back and earn another rear-naked choke submission win.
PICK -Pat Sabatini via Submission, Round 1

Karl Roberson (9-3) vs Brendan Allen (15-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

An intriguing clash of styles in the middleweight division as both men look to bounce back from defeats last time out. Roberson was smashed by Marvin Vettori in a grudge match between the two at UFC Vegas 2, while Allen got knocked out by Sean Strickland in a catchweight fight at UFC Vegas 14.

Roberson is a striker by nature with good kickboxing skills, while Allen is a ground specialist who has a nasty submission game to go with his heavy hands. Roberson is a rangy fighter who isn’t afraid to throw kicks and if he does that here, Allen will be grinning from ear-to-ear as he’ll catch it and chuck him to the mat. Roberson does have decent offensive wrestling, but his defence is poor and Allen is more than capable of holding his own on the feet until an opportunity arises to take him down himself.

Because of those reasons, it’s hard to see this fight going any other way than Allen securing a dominant submission win.
PICK – Brendan Allen via Submission, Round 1

Dwight Grant (10-3) vs Stefan Sekulic (12-3) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fun welterweight fight here between ‘The Body Snatcher’ and a returning Sekulic. Grant is 2-2 in the UFC, getting knocked out in his last bout against Daniel Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 7 while Sekulic lost his UFC debut to Ramazan Emeev in 2018 and then tested positive for steroids and was banned for two years.

Grant has incredible power in his hands and has scary knockout power, but he rarely throws strikes other than one at a time. That’s a big problem because it allows opponents to get their own attacks together and cause his issues. Not to mention the fact that Grant seemed to blow his load in last fight against Rodriguez, which is a concern. Sekulic is a good wrestler on his own accord and is very good at grinding away from top position on opponents.

Grant has cracking hands and has shown in the past that he’s able to get up off his back if he does get taken down, so as long as he doesn’t sit on his hands he should get the win here.
PICK – Dwight Grant via Knockout, Round 2

Alex Oliveira (22-9-1) vs Randy Brown (12-4) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The veteran ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira finally takes on Randy Brown in the welterweight division in the featured prelim bout of the card. Oliveira has lost three of his last five, beating Peter Sobotta at UFC Fight Island 3 before being submitted by Shavkat Rakhmonov at UFC 254 after missing weight. Brown’s most recent defeats have come against the excellent Belal Muhammad, Niko Price and then most recently by knockout to Vicente Luque at UFC Vegas 5.

Oliveira is a super well-rounded fighter who is entering the twilight of his career now. He has great boxing and good power, but is also excellent on the ground and has good evasive footwork. Brown is a potential contender at 170lbs, with great power in his strikes and really good wrestling too. He is powerful and has great cardio too, but has shown skills off his back with a submission of Warlley Alves and with where they both are currently it’s hard to see him not taking over the longer this fight goes.

Brown has the striking edge on the feet, the clear advantage in the cardio department and is competent enough in the grappling to hold his own, so I think he dominates to a decision win.
PICK – Randy Brown via Decision

UFC 261: Usman vs Masvidal 2 – Early prelims predictions

The UFC is back in front of a packed, sold-out arena for UFC 261 as Kamaru Usman defends his welterweight title against Jorge Masvidal for a second time in Jacksonville, Florida.

The two fought at UFC 251 on Fight Island last year with Usman earning a unanimous decision win, but this time with a full camp ‘Gamebred’ looks to fulfil his destiny rather than confirm his journeyman status as he goes for gold.

In the co-main events, Weili Zhang defends her strawweight title for the second time as she takes on former champion Rose Namajunas where a win would make her the most dominant 115lbs champion ever.

Valentina Shevchenko also takes on the biggest threat to her flyweight crown yet as Jessica Andrade looks to become the champion in just her second fight in the division.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 24 we managed to go 5/10 on the night with two perfect picks to move to 284/449 (63.25%) with 127 perfect picks (44.72%) in history.

With 13 fights on this card we’ll split the predictions into three, starting with the early prelims here.


Liang Na (9-4) vs Ariane Carnelossi (12-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

An interesting strawweight fight to open the night as Liang Na makes her UFC debut against Ariane Carnelossi, who makes her first appearance in nearly two years. Carnelossi lost her UFC debut to Angela Hilla back in 2019, while Na is on a four-fight win streak coming into this bout.

Na is a fighter who immediately looks for takedowns, aims for top position and then starts working for submissions. This has got her in trouble though, as she tends to shoot from way out of range which has seen her give up positions and even be knocked out in the past. Carnelossi has some good striking, with good power in her hands and some decent accuracy to go with it. She isn’t the most volume heavy fighter but her takedown defence is good and that makes for an interesting match up.

Na is likely to keep to her usual game plan but Carnelossi should be prepared for it and has the mat skills and power to make her pay, so I think she takes the dub.
PICK – Ariane Carnelossi via Decision

Aori Qileng (18-6) vs Jeffrey Molina (8-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A double dose of debut in the flyweight division as Dana White’s Contender Series contestant Jeffrey Molina takes on Aori Qileng. Qileng is on a six-fight win streak coming into this bout and won his most recent fight in January 2020 via second-round knockout, while Molina is on a seven-fight win streak.

Molina is a very good striker with excellent kicking in his arsenal, while Qileng is an unorthodox fighter to say the least. He has good wrestling and striking, but he tends to load his punches from the hip which should give Molina the time to read it and avoid any damage. It’s a really close fight on paper and just as close on the odds.

Overall, I think Molina is slightly better overall and I think he has fought the higher quality of opposition in the past so I think he’ll be able to land the more telling shots on the feet and edge a decision win.
PICK – Jeffrey Molina via Decision

Kazula Vargas (11-4) vs Rong Zhu (17-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A starlet makes his UFC debut in this one as 21-year-old Rong Zhu enters the organisation to take on Kazula Vargas looking to earn his maiden UFC victory. Vargas lost his first two UFC bouts to Alex Coelho and Brok Weaver, while Zhu has won his last ten fights in a row with nine of them being finishes.

Vargas is a wrestler with some decent boxing, similar to Kelvin Gastelum but his best chances of a win will always be on the ground. Zhu is a striker through and through, with great counter shots and excellent power in his hands. Zhu has great footwork and will look to keep a distance between the two and just pick Vargas off with punches and kicks.

This fight has a lot of similarities to the UFC Vegas 24 main event just at a lower level, so I’ll go with the counter-striker for a decision win once more.
PICK – Rong Zhu via Decision

Batgerel Danaa (8-2) vs Kevin Natividad (9-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A potential fight of the night contender between two bantamweight prospects in this one. Danaa lost his UFC debut to Heili Alateng before winning his last bout against Guido Cannetti at UFC 248 in March last year. Natividad made his UFC debut on just six days notice and got KO’d by Miles Johns at UFC Vegas 12.

Both guys are very well rounded, with good wrestling chops and heavy hands to match but their game plans usually differ slightly. Danaa prefers to throw hands and use the wrestling intermittently, while Natividad likes to shoot in for takedowns and use his striking to open those opportunities up for himself. It’s a fight that is likely to come down to durability and I think that edges in Danaa’s favour.

As it goes, I think Danaa will be able to defend a couple of takedowns and start landing his heavy hands up the middle to secure a stoppage win somewhere in the middle round.
PICK – Batgerel Danaa via Knockout, Round 2

Why Weili Zhang will be strawweight’s most dominant champion with a win at UFC 261

UFC 261 will play host to yet another exciting strawweight title fight in the co-main event, when Weili Zhang makes her return to the octagon after over a year away to fight Rose Namajunas.

Zhang will make the second defence of her belt, after a win over the long reigning former champion Joana Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 in March 2020 in what was widely considered the greatest women’s mixed martial arts bout of all time.

Namajunas made her return at UFC 251 after losing the belt to Jessica Andrade, beating Andrade in a rematch via decision in a fight where she showed her phenomenal striking skills for the best part of 15 minutes.

It’s a fight that everyone is looking forward to, with the power and athleticism of Zhang going face to face with the slick skills on the feet and on the mat against ‘Thug Rose’.

A former champion against the reigning champion, it’s sure to be a belter, but there is more to the fight now than just success in the cage at UFC 261.

Namajunas chose to make the fight personal and even political when she called Zhang a communist, something the champion and her team reacted to very negatively.

On top of that, Zhang could potentially become the most dominant champion in the division’s history despite it being only her third title fight and second title defence. As previously mentioned, she won the belt by beating Andrade but she not only beat her – she annihilated her in just 42 seconds of the first round.

She then went into her first defence against JJ as the underdog. Joana of course was a former champion and to this day holds the record for the most defences of her title in the strawweight division with five.

The fight was an absolute war that could legitimately have gone either way, and in a split decision she came out on top. She was out-struck by her opponent on the night, but she did by far the most damage of the two and got herself a takedown too to earn the victory.

Two of the best strawweights around defeated. After also defeating Tecia Torres in her UFC career too, she now takes on another former champion. Stylistically Namajunas could be her toughest task yet.

She flows on the feet with superb accuracy in her strikes, with punches and kicks both as fluent as each other but she is also a master of submissions if the fight becomes a grapple fest.

Much like Zhang, she thrives in a submission scenario on the ground but is also comfortable on the feet. When Zhang fought JJ the takedown was the clear path to victor for her, and while she ended up winning on the feet we saw the results of that war. As for Andrade, her speed and striking were her advantage against the wrestler. There’s no clear path here.

A win over Namajunas means she will have beaten three of the other four champions in the division’s history within just six fights in the organisation. She hadn’t even lost a round prior to the JJ fight and that’s nothing to look down on since JJ is one of the greatest female martial artists ever.

If she beats Namajunas at UFC 261 the conversation will immediately shift to a potential super-fight between herself and Valentina Shevchenko at flyweight because there is nobody else on her level. While a new contender is found she can move up to challenge yet another superstar, but this could really be the making of a global star.

At just 31-years-old, a 22 fight win streak could put this young woman on the brink of becoming an iconic figure in the history of women’s mixed martial arts.

Jessica Andrade is the biggest threat to Valentina Shevchenko’s flyweight title

It wasn’t long ago that Jessica Andrade was the reigning UFC strawweight champion of the world, after slamming Rose Namajunas on her head to become queen of the 115lbers.

While her reign didn’t last long in the UFC’s smallest weight class, Andrade has since proved that she can compete with the bigger girls too.

After losing the belt in under a minute to Weili Zhang in her first defence she then lost her rematch with Namajunas at UFC 251. Those two will now meet for the strawweight title at UFC 261, while Andrade has established herself as the number one contender at flyweight.

She made her flyweight debut at UFC Fight Island 6 against the then number one contender Kaitlyn Chookagian. She entered the fight knowing that with the credit in the bank from her run at 115lbs, a win over the top dog in a division light on contenders would likely earn her a shot at the title.

Andrade didn’t disappoint, with a first-round stoppage via body shots setting up this fight with Valentina Shevchenko.

Shevchenko is without a doubt the best flyweight in the history of women’s MMA. She has an elite striking game, mixed in with a dominant ground game when needed and flawless technique. Her record shows that, with her only defeats in the UFC coming via decisions against the consensus best ever Amanda Nunes.

She has dominated against everyone since moving into her natural 125lbs weight class, but her last bout against Jennifer Maia showed up a few holes in her game that hadn’t been shown up in this division before.

Maia was able to get her down and maintain top control for an entire round, landing some good ground and pound and threatening with submissions. Shevchenko survived the round, weathered the storm and went on to win comfortably, but it’s fair to say that Andrade is a much more dangerous prospect in that world than Maia was.

The reality is that Andrade is excellent everywhere. She has great striking with powerful hands and knockout power, tremendous wrestling and a black-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. No matter where the fight goes, she has the potential to win.

She will apply pressure and look to close distance and if she can get her hands locked for a takedown, who’s to say she can’t slam Shevchenko on her head like she did Namajunas?

The Brazilian is without a doubt the biggest threat to ‘Bullet’s crown. Look through it, nobody can do it all to such a high level like these two women can. When you check the top 15, the only woman who can really hold a candle to them in both the striking and ground game simultaneously seems to Taila Santos, and she’s ranked all the way down in 13th.

If Shevchenko can overcome the threat that Andrade poses, then the division will well and truly be cleared out and she may have to start considering super-fights.

But don’t rule Andrade out yet, because she’s good enough to steal the show.

Jorge Masvidal – Destiny fulfilled or journeyman confirmed at UFC 261?

Stretch your mind back to July 2020 at the start of fight week leading up to UFC 251, as we prepared for Kamaru Usman’s second title defence against teammate Gilbert Burns.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisation made it’s plans to return clear on Fight Island and the welterweight championship was to headline it all. Despite many believing that Jorge Masvidal was the rightful number one contender, it wasn’t him getting the shot.

That was of course, until a week out from fight night when Burns tested positive for the virus and put the entire fight in jeopardy. Step forward ‘Gamebred’ – always ready to fight when required.

What followed was a 20lbs weight-cut in less than a week and then a very one-sided title fight as Usman successfully defended his crown in a five-round unanimous decision win.

The excuses for Masvidal were built in. Short-notice, no camp, a huge weight cut and lots of travel to get to Fight Island to begin with but his performance did little to convince anyone who watched it that it was possible to go any other way.

Usman was able to take him down at will for the most part, ate some of his best shots in the stand up and won almost every single clinch exchange. Masvidal didn’t have a chance once his big punches had no effect.

This time though, he is insisting on a change. He will have a full camp, no intense weight cut just before the fight and a game plan having already felt Usman in the cage and how he likes to take his opponents down.

The issue for him is that Usman also has those same advantages to build on from his victory the first time around.

Usman will have a chance to improve on his victory, having already promised that this time he will get the finish. He has spent several months training with Trevor Wittman now to improve his striking, as he showed with a fantastic display when he finally did fight Burns and knocked him out in the third round.

Masvidal will no doubt give it everything. While hit attention more recently has been directed towards big money fights, his goal has remained the same throughout – he wants the belt.

It took 48 fights in his professional career for him to earn a first title fight and it came under bad circumstances for him. Now in his 50th bout he can shake up the world and make his journey from backyard scraps to the top of the mountain a real one.

If he’s beaten once more though, it will mean that to many he is nothing more than a popular journeyman in the world of MMA.

50 fights, 15 defeats against opposition who are deemed anywhere between good and world class. His most notable win in terms of reputation is Nate Diaz, who is another fighter whose skillset doesn’t quite live up to the popularity he has garnered.

A win over Usman at UFC 261 in front of a capacity crowd not only puts him at the top of the welterweight world but it solidifies his legacy in the world of mixed martial arts. It puts a stamp on his career that means it was all worth something when people look back on it in five, ten, 15 or even 20 years time.

Were the fights in Kimbo Slice’s back yard supposed to be the start of something great that culminates in Jacksonville, Florida or was it just one of several viral moments that will eventually blow away with the wind.

It’s time for Masvidal to either fulfil his destiny or go down as a journeyman, but he’s got the boogeyman in his way.

Kamaru Usman to defend title against Jorge Masvidal in front of capacity crowd at UFC 261

The UFC is BACK in front of 15,000 fans from April 24th Dana White has announced, with UFC 261 providing another title triple header headlined by Kamaru Usman defending his title against Jorge Masvidal.

The UFC president announced in a social media video posted overnight on Monday that the organisation has agreed a deal with Jacksonville, Florida and that UFC 261 will now take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

Usman called out Masvidal after his win at UFC 258 over Gilbert Burns with a third-round knockout of his former teammate, claiming that he wanted to finish the job he started at UFC 251.

The two fought on Fight Island last year when Burns withdrew from the bout after testing positive for COVID-19, with ‘Gamebred’ stepping in on just six-days’ notice. The fight went to a decision with Usman claiming it unanimously, but he wasn’t happy with the performance.

After taking little damage against Burns in February, Usman is making the quickest turnaround of his UFC career since the Ultimate Fighter days.

Their rematch will headline a card that had already been set for a double title fight in the women’s MMA world, with Valentina Shevchenko defending her belt against Jessica Andrade and Weili Zhang defending her strawweight title against Rose Namajunas.

Shevchenko has defended the title four times already and is widely considered one of the best women’s mixed martial artists ever, behind only Amanda Nunes. She’ll fight the Brazilian Andrade who after losing the strawweight championship and then losing her next bout too, moved up to 125lbs and KO’d former challenger Katlyn Chookagian in the first round to earn herself a title opportunity.

The woman who took that title off her will defend for the second time, as Zhang takes on former champion Namajunas in what is expected to be an extremely high level striking bout.

With the announcement that the entire card will take place in front of a capacity crowd in Florida, it will be the first time the UFC has held a card with fans since UFC 248.

Interestingly that was the time Zhang was last seen in the octagon as she defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the co-main event in the 2020 fight of the year, with Israel Adesanya defeating Yoel Romero in the main event in a middleweight title fight.

The UFC is back in front of fans with a title fight triple-header on April 24th. Don’t miss it!

Two more UFC title fights announced for UFC 261 and UFC 263

The UFC has announced two more title fights for upcoming cards later this year, with the women’s strawweight title and men’s flyweight title to be defended in April and June respectively.

The company announced last week that women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko will step back in the octagon to take on Jessica Andrade at UFC 261 in April as the main event of the card. Shevchenko last fought at UFC 255 in November, beating Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision while Andrade knocked out Katlyn Chookagian at UFC Fight Island 6 to earn the number one contender status in her new weight class.

It’s now been revealed however that the April 24th card will also host another women’s title fight, as strawweight champion Weili Zhang will make her second title defence against former champion Rose Namajunas.

Zhang will return to the octagon for the first time since February 2020 at UFC 248, when she came out victorious in of the best women’s fights of all-time and the 2020 fight of the year against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Namajunas is returned to the octagon after losing her belt in 2019 at UFC 251, in a rematch against Andrade – who took the title from her and lost it to Zhang – which she won by split decision.

Two excellent strikers will be on display in that one and the women will take over the UFC for one night in April, in what will be the first time ever that two women’s titles have been defended on the same card in the company’s history.

Then in June, the male flyweights will finally run it back as Deiveson Figueiredo takes on Brandon Moreno in their highly anticipated rematch at UFC 263.

The two fought in a classic back in December at UFC 256, which ended in a draw after Figueiredo was deducted a point for a low blow in round three. Without the deduction, most people had the champion retaining the belt and ‘God of War’ revealed after the fight that he nearly withdrew after a stomach infection saw him hospitalised the night before the bout.

They will run it back on June 12th, with the location yet to be decided. Figueiredo fought on Fight Island last year to win the belt against Joseph Benavidez, before defending twice in Las Vegas at the APEX centre against Moreno and Alex Perez.

It should be one hell of a fight, with a full camp for both fighters as opposed to the three-week turnaround both guys had at the back end of 2020.