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7 Takeaways from UFC 261: Usman vs. Masvidal 2 – MMA Root

UFC 261 featured three title fights and the return of fans to an indoor arena that certainly helped fight fans feel a sense of normalcy after a turbulent year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As two champions fought back, one title changed hands and the entire event is certainly one for the books.

There was a lot to take out of UFC 261, here are a few things that stood out.

To mask or not to mask

Dana White’s interview with Kevin Iole seemed to leave it up to the fans, but to play it safe, COVID-19 protocols were implemented. While there were a lot of wide shots of the arena, it didn’t seem like anyone was thinking about it on fight night. For those unaware, the UFC provided free face covers to UFC 261 ticket holders.

And the crowd goes wild

The VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida was sold out and if there was ever an example of what the energy of a crowd can have in fighters, UFC 261 was a prime example. The first fight of the night had fans roaring as Ariane Carneloss and Na Liang met in the first round. Call it an adrenaline rush, but the two women fought like a title was at stake. See the first few seconds for yourself:

Carneloss would be victorious, but it looked like he could have gone either way if Liang hadn’t exhausted himself.

That calf kick

Anthony Smith’s first round leg kick to Jimmy Crute was so damaging it would disable Crute’s leg. Smith may be known as “Lionheart,” but Crute’s willingness to compete makes for one of those great moments in sport that shows why the saying “There are levels to this” exists.

The irony of history repeating itself

A rematch of more than 10 years between Chris Weidman and Uriah Hall would end horribly when a controlled kick thrown by Weidman would cause his leg to break. Both men have a win over Anderson Silva, a man who suffered the same injury when he faced Weidman in 2013. For Weidman to be on the receiving end of the same injury is something that seems like such an odd coincidence, telling the story would. amazing. At the close of the event, Megan Olivi updated fans that Weidman was admitted to the hospital and that the surgery would take place in the morning. The injury could end Weidman’s career, but if it doesn’t, Hall said he owes Weidman a rematch no matter where he stands if he can come back.

And still: Valentina Shevchenko:

Shevchenko’s rival Jessica Andrade thought her advantage would lie in her strength and clinch work, but the champion decided to make her an example of herself and anyone who feels she has a plan to beat her at flyweight. Shevchenko would initiate the clinch and dictate where the fight would end both when she was brought to the ground and in a moment when she let Andrade get up in the first round to deliver a kick to the head. In the second round, Shevchenko would win with a TKO and send a message to the rest of the division: “As my opponents try to figure out what one of my weaknesses is, don’t waste your time. There are none.”

And new: Thug Rose!

Rose Namajunas wasted no time in regaining the strawweight title. A kick to the lead leg in the first round would catch Weili Zhang off guard and knock her down. She appeared to dispute the stoppage, and even told Joe Rogan in her post-fight interview that she thought the referee stopped him too early. Could a rematch come soon?

And still: Kamaru Usman

Any doubts fans had in Usman that were present after the first time he and Jorge Masvidal met, Usman erased them at UFC 261. The champion’s right hand would be the draw to cement his reign as champion. Usman goes on to say that he’s a problem for the rest of the welterweights, and right now, he certainly is.

Obviously, there is more to get out of this event than is listed here. There are those who will surely follow up to see if the event was a “super spreader”, as they like to look at the news, as we are still going through a pandemic. However, for a few hours on Saturday night there were fans, big fights and big moments to help everyone escape the pessimism of the last few days.

What did you take from the event?

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