Kamaru Usman, Jorge Masvidal to headline UFC 261 – the first UFC event with a full crowd in over a year.
After about a year of mostly empty-arena cards (minus some crowd capacity with the most recent stint on Fight Island), the UFC will finally host an event with full capacity on April 24, as UFC 261 takes place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL.
The event will feature three title fights, topped by a welterweight championship rematch between champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. Usman and Masvidal first met on Fight Island at UFC 251, with Masvidal filling in on less than a week’s notice in place of Gilbert Burns. Usman won the bout via a one-sided unanimous decision.
Masvidal has not fought since the loss. Usman, meanwhile, successfully defended his belt against Burns at UFC 258 in February.
In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko will defend the UFC women’s flyweight championship against former UFC women’s strawweight champion Jessica Andrade. Shevchenko will be looking for her fifth defense of the belt after defeating Jessica Maia in November at UFC 255. Andrade made her flyweight debut in October with a late first-round finish of Katlyn Chookagian.
Also featured will be current strawweight champ Weili Zhang, making her first appearance since her epic 2020 Fight of the Year war with Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248. Zhang will defend the title against former champ Rose Namajunas, who last appeared at UFC 251 in a win over Andrade.
UFC 248, held on March 7, 2020, marked the last time the UFC had an event with near-full or full in-person attendance.
The VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena hosted three UFC events in May 2020 — the first UFC cards since its two-month COVID hiatus — including UFC 249, which saw Justin Gaethje defeat Tony Ferguson for the interim UFC lightweight title and Henry Cejudo defend the bantamweight title against Dominick Cruz before retiring.
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