A blockbuster welterweight championship rematch is now official.
Usman will defend his UFC welterweight title against Masvidal in the main event of UFC 261 on Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida. The card will be the first the UFC has held with a capacity crowd since before the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. ESPN has Usman ranked No. 2 in the world on its pound-for-pound MMA fighters list.
Usman (18-1) beat Masvidal via unanimous decision at UFC 251 last July in Abu Dhabi. But Masvidal came into that fight on just six days’ notice after Usman’s original opponent, Gilbert Burns, tested positive for the coronavirus. Usman, 33, is looking for his fourth straight title defense and his 14th straight UFC victory.
If Usman, a Nigeria native who trains in Colorado, were to win Saturday, he would be in sole possession of second place in terms of the longest winning streaks in UFC history. Usman is currently tied with Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jon Jones with 13 straight victories. Only Anderson Silva has more consecutive wins in UFC history (16).
Masvidal (35-14) is one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster. The Miami native was on a three-fight winning streak before falling to Usman last year. In 2019, Masvidal stopped Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz in a span of eight months to become one of the hottest MMA athletes in the world. Despite the loss to Usman, he hasn’t slowed down much. Masvidal, 36, has been a pro fighter for almost 18 years but has just hit his stride recently.
There will be two other title fights at UFC 261, and all four competitors successfully made weight Friday.
In the co-main event, Zhang Weili will defend her women’s strawweight title against former champion Rose Namajunas. Zhang (21-1), the UFC’s first Chinese-born champion, weighed in at 114.5 pounds and has not lost since her pro debut in 2013. Namajunas (9-4) hit the same number and has won four of her last five fights. ESPN has Zhang ranked No. 4 on its women’s pound-for-pound list and Namajunas at No. 5.