THE UFC returns to pay-per-view action this weekend with one of their biggest cards of the year – which will take place in front of a sold-ou
THE UFC returns to pay-per-view action this weekend with one of their biggest cards of the year – which will take place in front of a sold-out arena.
Topping the UFC 261 bill is an eagerly-anticipated welterweight title rematch between champion Kamaru Usman and fan favourite Jorge Masvidal.
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UFC gold will also be on the line in the co-main event of the evening, which will see strawweight queen Weili Zhang defend her title against the division’s former ruler Rose Namajunas.
And dominant women’s flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko will kick off the first of three title fights in a tasty showdown with ex-115lb titleholder Jessica Andrade.
The UFC’s fifth pay-per-view event of the year will take place in front of a packed crowd at The Vystar Veteran’s Memorial Arena in Jacksonsville, Florida.
And our man is anticipating all three champions to leave the Sunshine State with their titles.
Check out Chisanga Malata’s tips for the blockbuster card below:
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Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal II
The Nigerian Nightmare put on a wrestling clinic in his first meeting with Masvidal last July.
And it’s hard to see anything other than a repeat of the inaugural Fight Island main event playing out this weekend.
Masvidal will no doubt have worked hard on his takedown defence, fence work and wall walks in a bid to keep the feet standing.
But Usman’s indomitable will and his ferociousness in getting the fight to the ground have yet to be broken.
Gamebred will provide stiffer resistance second time around and may have more success on the feet, but it won’t be enough to end the reign of Africa’s first UFC champion.
Chisanga’s pick: Kamaru Usman via unanimous decision
UFC 261 – USMAN VS MASVIDAL: TV channel, start time and full fight card for huge Florida show
Weili Zhang vs Rose Namjunas
The people’s main event is a dream match-up. Power and relentlessness versus speed and precision. What’s not to love about this fight?
In her maiden title defence against Joanna Jedrzejczyk last December – one of the greatest fights in the history of the sport – Zhang showed a champion’s mindset as well as ridiculous power.
China’s first UFC champion, however, will have her work cut out for her against the slick and elusive Namajunas.
Namajunas has the benefit of height and reach advantages and will look to use them to keep the powerful Magnum at bay.
But as she showed in her last outing against Andrade last July, she is susceptible to allowing shorter opponents to nullify her reach advantage by fighting short and permitting them to get in close.
Zhang did that to great effect in her Fight of the Decade contender with Jedrzeczyk and possesses considerably more power than Andrade – who had Namajunas badly hurt in the final round of their clash.
Chisanga’s pick: Zhang via third-round TKO
Weili Zhang will clash with Rose Namajunas in UFC 261’s co-main event[/caption]
Valentina Shevchenko will defend her flyweight crown against Jessica Andrade[/caption]
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Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Andrade
In Andrade, Shevchenko will face her toughest test as flyweight queen due to the Brazilian’s tenacity and relentless forward pressure.
That pressure, however, will play right into the hands of the elusive and tactful Shevchenko.
Andrade’s best route to victory lies in her closing the distance, utilising her grappling and taking the fight to the ground.
Getting in close, however, will prove to be difficult against the masterful counter striker that is Shevchenko.
Expect Bullet to keep the former strawweight queen at bay with her wide arsenal of kicks and only exchange in the pocket when she needs to.
Chisanga’s pick: Valentina Shevchenko via unanimous decision
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