Four things we learned from UFC 261


Written by Kieran Green (@kierlfc12)

Several days have passed since UFC 261 took Florida by storm, with fight fans still struggling to find words for the display that they witnessed last Saturday. 

With the three championship fights all ending within two rounds, and only a small handful of preliminary fights decided by the judges, this was one of the most violent and exciting UFC events that we have seen. 

Now that the dust has settled on one of the best cards in recent history, here are four things that we learnt from UFC 261. 

1: Kamaru Usman is elite 

Going into this fight, we were all aware of how dangerous Kamaru Usman was, but his knockout of Jorge Masvidal has propelled him to new heights in the esteem of the fans. 

A devastating right hand landed flush for Usman in the second round, ensuring that he would be the first person to finish Masvidal since he submitted to an inverted triangle choke back in 2009. 

Despite the fact that his opponent had a full camp under his belt this time around, Usman was able to deliver the finish that he craved, silencing those who doubted his ability to put on a show. 

It is now obvious that he is the number one ‘pound-for-pound’ UFC fighter in the world, with the number of Welterweight challenges available for the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ thinning as he continues to clear out the division. 

With confidence brimming, and fan admiration at an all-time high, who knows what future heights Usman will be able to reach, as he continues to cement his legacy as one of the greatest Welterweights ever. 

2: Weili Zhang is underappreciated 

Zhang headed into her UFC 261 matchup as the reigning strawweight champion, but found herself subjected to heavy booing by the crowd as she was introduced. 

Despite the fact that Saturday was not her night in the grand scheme of things, the treatment she received from the fans in Florida was unwarranted. 

People seemed to have forgotten that she came into this fight emerging from an infamous war last year with one of the best female MMA fighters ever in Joanna Jedrzejczyk, which many claim to be an all-time great UFC matchup. 

Zhang is still one of the world’s elite, and it will be no surprise to see her re-emerge into the title equation in the near future. 

3: The dangers of Mixed Martial Arts cannot be underestimated 

Whilst the majority of the fights ended in exciting fashion, this cannot be said of what transpired between Uriah Hall and Chris Weidman, which featured one of the worst injuries in MMA history. 

An early leg kick thrown by Weidman resulted in a gruesome injury extremely similar to that suffered by Anderson Silva against Weidman in 2013.

Because of this extremely unfortunate outcome, Uriah Hall became the first to win a UFC fight without actually landing a single strike of his own. 

It is sometimes forgotten that these fighters are at huge risk every time they walk to the cage for our entertainment, and what happened to Weidman is a stern reminder of that. 

The outcome of this fight left a grey patch on what was otherwise a great evening of fighting, and is something that we must remember can unfortunately happen to anybody participating in this sport. 

4: Rose Namajunas will be champion for a long time 

Although the serious talent possessed by Thug Rose has often been underestimated, her emphatic win over Weili Zhang came as no surprise to many. 

The challenger on the night, Rose, came in as a slight underdog, but was always well equipped to face such a powerful opponent when considering her intricate style and dictation of range inside the cage. 

Despite looking somewhat nervous in the build up, Namajunas was incredibly relaxed during the initial exchanges, and secured her second reign as Strawweight champion with a stunning first round head kick. 

In doing so, she became the first female UFC champion to lose her belt and regain it. 

In the past she has admitted to disliking the pressure that comes with being the champion, something that once threatened the initial possibility of last Saturday’s championship opportunity. 

However, sincere technical development and maturity have arrived in abundance for the new champion, who will use what she has learned over the last few years of her career to establish supremacy at 115lbs. 

Having proved her worth in such a high profile title fight, Rose looks set to stay at the top for a lot longer this time around. 

Namajunas will continue to prove people wrong as her skillset advances, and it would be very surprising to see anybody in the division topple her in the foreseeable future.