Three title fights. The return of fans. A title fight rematch. A middleweight rematch over a decade in the making earlier in the night. A small army of Chinese fighters making their debut.
Yes, there were a lot of storylines at UFC 261.
The biggest, outside of the return of fans to an indoor arena, of course, was the main event rematch between Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. A fight that Usman had called for, despite getting the upper hand on Masvidal in their first meeting at UFC 251.
Usman was looking to silence any doubts brought about by Masvidal taking that first fight on six day’s notice. Or maybe he was looking at his bank account, and the bump it had seen following his first fight with “Gamebred.” In any case, merited or not, the rematch arrived Saturday, with plenty of interest in Miami’s Masvidal and his second chance at the welterweight title.
In the co-main event, China’s Weili Zhang looked to defend her title against Rose Namajunas. Former champ “Thug Rose” had turned things political, proclaiming “better dead than red” ahead of the showdown, in reference to the Chinese Communist Party (despite the slogan originally being targeted at the former Soviet Union).
There was no bad blood, meanwhile, in the third title fight of the night. But Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade may have been the most compelling of the three, with “Bullet” getting her biggest challenge as a flyweight.
Following the event, tune in for the UFC 261 post-fight press conference live stream. You can view the full video above.