CLEVELAND, Ohio – Legacy fights are rare in MMA. But you could make the case UFC 261 has three of them with three title fights taking place Saturday live on ESPN+ pay-per-view.
A rematch between Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal headlines the festivities at Jacksonville’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in front of the UFC’s first full capacity crowd (15,000 fans) in over a year.
Usman dominated Masvidal in the duo’s first bout at UFC 251 last July. However, Masvidal took that fight on short notice. This time around, there will be no excuses. It’s also a chance for Usman to further his legacy as one of the all-time greats. A win Saturday would give him the second-longest winning streak (14) in UFC history behind only Anderson Silva’s 16.
Is Usman the greatest welterweight of all time? Not yet, but he’s approaching Georges St-Pierre’s level of excellence. If he dominates Masvidal again, even our all-time rankings could no longer justify Usman’s absence.
The night’s co-main event features Women’s Strawweight Champion Zhang Weili taking on former champ Rose Namajunas. The winner of the fight will not only be champ but could make an easy argument for being the best Women’s Strawweight of all time.
If that’s not enough, UFC 261 will also feature a fight between Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko and, perhaps, her toughest test yet in Jessica Andrade. Shevchenko is already the second greatest women’s MMA fighter of all time. A win Saturday and we could see a third bout between her and G.O.A.T. Amanda Nunes at featherweight.
UFC 261 is taking no chances with its first fight in front of a full crowd since March 2020. The crowd is fully loaded. Names like Uriah Hall, Chris Weidman, Anthony Smith and Alex Oliveira will be competing on the undercard.
Early Prelims for UFC 261 start at 5:45 p.m. EST on UFC Fight Pass. Fans can watch regular Prelims starting at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN and ESPN+. The main card kicks off exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-view at 10 p.m.
The cost of UFC 261 is $69.99 for current subscribers to ESPN+. New subscribers can pay a bundle price of $89.99 for both UFC 261 and an ESPN+ annual subscription, which equals savings of more than 30 percent. You can also get UFC 261 for $69.99 with the Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN bundle ($13.99 a month).
You can check out Saturday’s full fight card and odds below (our predictions for main card winners are in bold):
- Kamaru Usman (-400) vs. Jorge Masvidal
- (+320) Zhang Weili (-185) vs. Rose Namajunas (+165)
- Valentina Shevchenko (-400) vs. Jessica Andrade (+320)
- Uriah Hall (-115) vs. Chris Weidman (-105)
- Jim Crute (-190) vs. Anthony Smith (+170)
- Randy Brown (-155) vs. Alex Oliveira (+135)
- Dwight Grant (-250) vs. Stefan Sekulic (+210)
- Brendan Allen (-130) vs. Karl Roberson (+110)
- Patrick Sabatini (-220) vs. Tristan Connelly (+190)
- Danaa Batgerel (-145) vs. Kevin Natividad (+125)
- Rong Zhu (-250) vs. Rodrigo Vargas (+210)
- Jeff Molina (-110) vs. Qileng Aori (-110)
- Ariane Carnelossi (-180) vs. Na Liang (+160)