UFC 261: Kamaru Usman destroys Jorge Masvidal to retain welterweight crown

First UFC event in front of a sell-out crowd for more than a year

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The UFC marked its return to a capacity crowd with a spectacular UFC 261 on Sunday morning, which concluded with Kamaru Usman’s chilling knockout of Jorge Masvidal in a rematch of their Abu Dhabi clash last year.

The welterweight champion, unbeaten in the UFC, stopped Masvidal in his home state of Florida, dispatching his rival with a thunderous right hand in front of 15,000 spectators at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville. It was the first time the UFC had staged an event in front of a full crowd since March last year.

With the win – Masvidal's first KO defeat in 50 professional bouts – Usman moves to 18 consecutive victories, and 14 straight in the UFC. The pair first met last July, in the Fight Island opener UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi, when Masvidal was a stand-in on six days' notice. Usman won by unanimous decision.

Featuring three championship fights, UFC 261 duly delivered with one of the organisation’s most eventual cards in history, with Rose Namajunas knocking out strawweight champion Weili Zhang with a spectacular head kick in the first round to regain the title she lost in 2019. In doing so, the American became the first female in UFC history to win back a belt, while the defeat was Zhang’s first since her pro debut, 21 fights previously.

Before that, flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko dominated No 1-ranked contender Jessica Andrade to get a second-round TKO – the fifth defence of her crown.

The night will be remembered also for two particularly gruesome injuries, which kicked off the main card. First, Australian Jimmy Crute could not continue beyond the first round against Anthony Smith after his left leg completely gave way following an effective kick.

However, a more sickening incident was to come, when former middleweight champion Chris Weidman broke his leg while throwing a kick 17 seconds into his clash against Uriah Hall. The UFC reported that Weidman was admitted to hospital and would have surgery later Sunday.