Despite initial plans for venues including Singapore and Las Vegas, following lengthy negotiations and various location changes, UFC 261 will finally be going ahead in Jacksonville, Florida. Headlining the event at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, on Saturday 24 April, Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 2 is the fight everyone will want to see.
Usman Seems Almost Unbeatable
Since making his professional MMA breakthrough back in 2012, Kamaru Usman has only lost one bout early in his career. That came against Jose Caceres at CFA 11 in May 2013, resulting from a rear-naked choke submission. Now unbeaten in his last 17 fights, the 33-year-old Nigerian has become one of the toughest opponents in the UFC.
Usman won the Welterweight Title at UFC 235 in March 2019, beating former champion Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision. Following three successful defenses of that title, the Nigerian is clear -400 UFC betting odds favorite to retain the belt at UFC 261, the next time he steps into the octagon to face Masvidal. What’s more, Usman successfully defended his title once already against Masvidal, who hasn’t fought another contest since his defeat at UFC 251 in July 2020.
Nevertheless, that was a tough bout that resulted in a unanimous decision by the judges, which means that both fighters will be seeking a knockout victory this time.
Masvidal Seeking Sweet Revenge
As one of the most experienced combatants currently competing in the UFC, there’s also no doubting that Jorge Masvidal is one of the most popular amongst fans. The 36-year-old from Florida is always a huge attraction, filling out fight venues and attracting strong PPV audiences, whenever and wherever his contests are held.
Having already lost one bid for the UFC Welterweight Title against Usman, this time Masvidal has had much more time to prepare. Ahead of the last contest, Gilbert Burns was scheduled as the title opponent for Usman, although he had to withdraw due to illness. This provided the opportunity for Masvidal to step in, albeit with less than a week’s notice.
Regardless of his +300 underdog odds ahead of UFC 261, anyone underestimating Masvidal will do so at their own risk. Nate Diaz boasted he was the “baddest” in the game and challenged Masvidal, ahead of UFC 244, but despite the taunts of Diaz, it was Masvidal who ultimately won.
The Battle of Contrasting Styles
Given everything at stake for this UFC 261 headline fight, and no matter the early odds, this really is a contest that could go either way. Kamaru Usman is a fearsome champion, yet if anyone can find his weakness, it’s undoubtedly Jorge Masvidal, who certainly won’t mind being the underdog this time around.
The clash of fighting styles will also make for interesting viewing, as each tries to outperform the other with their own particular strengths. Usman is known for his wrestling style and grappling techniques, while Masvidal has a wide variety of tricks at his disposal, based around a background in boxing and kickboxing.
Neither could ask for a better prize, as Usman puts his UFC Welterweight Championship belt on the line, which will be incentive enough for Masvidal to give it his best shot. Whatever the final outcome, this promises to be a fascinating and exciting encounter, as two of the best welterweights get to grips and trade blows inside the octagon.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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