UFC 261 Preview: Zhang Weili – Rose Namajunas

Tomorrow night in the co-main event of UFC 261, we are going to see the strawweight title fight that the world has been waiting for. Undisputed strawweight champion Zhang Weili (21-1) will defend her title against the former strawweight champion Rose Namajunas (9-4).

Zhang Weili made her UFC debut back in 2018. She immediately won three fights in a row and the promotion saw a ton of potential in her. The UFC has been trying to grow their Chinese presence and they saw Weili as the perfect fighter to assist with that.

Despite only being sixth in the rankings, the UFC had Weili challenge for the title against Jessica Andrade in China. Andrade was the betting favorite, but that night, Weili wasn’t going to be denied. A huge flurry in the first round stopped Andrade and won Weili the title.

After that win, Weili went on to defend her title against Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the 2020 fight of the year. Weili took the title from Jessica Andrade while Andrade took the title away from Rose Namajunas. A few years ago, Namajunas looked like she was going to be the next dominant female UFC champion.

She had two wins over Joanna Jedrzejczyk and she looked like she was primed for a run. However, she was dealing with a lot of issues outside the cage and it impacted her. Andrade finished her to take her title. However, at UFC 251 a newly motivated Rose Namajunas got that win back against Andrade.

UFC 261 Prediction

This UFC 261 co-main event might steal the show tomorrow night. I’m so pumped for this fight and I believe we are seeing the two best strawweights in the world go at it. When it comes to the overall game, I have to say that I like Rose Namajunas.

Her striking technique is incredibly slick. She’s also got great skills on the ground and she’s always threatening with submissions. Overall technique and diversity in skillset go to the former champion. However, there is just something truly special about Zhang Weili.

Her striking is very good and there is no doubting the fact that she has the strength and power advantage. While Rose Namajunas is ultra talented, there’s something in me that can’t bet against the current UFC champion. I think we are in for another war, but I think Weili is going to do more damage which will win her a razor close decision.

Prediction: Zhang Weili by Split Decision

UFC 261 Preview: Kamaru Usman – Jorge Masvidal 2

Tomorrow night in the main event of UFC 261, we will see the rematch that the world has been buzzing about. Undisputed welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (18-1) will be defending his title against the UFC‘s BMF Jorge Masvidal (35-14).

As mentioned, this is the second time that these two men have locked horns. The first time came back at UFC 251. Going into 2020, the UFC was trying to book Usman against Masvidal. However, the fight never came together and eventually the promotion pulled the plug.

Gilbert Burns stepped in to fight Usman. However, after Burns tested positive for COVID, the UFC went back to Gamebred and he accepted the fight on six days notice. The six days notice is what this entire rematch is built around. Kamaru Usman won a lopsided decision last year against Masvidal.

However, since the fight was on short notice at UFC 251, there is a legit argument for Masvidal not being at his best. With those doubts, Kamaru Usman wanted to run this fight back to show the world he can beat Masvidal even with a full camp. At UFC 261 we will truly find out who is the better man.

UFC 261 Prediction

When these two first fought back at UFC 251, Kamaru Usman struggled to get Masvidal to the mat with his wrestling. However, his clinch control work is what won him the lopsided decision. Masvidal simply couldn’t keep Usman off of him.

If Masvidal is going to win the UFC welterweight title tomorrow, he has to keep this fight at distance. We’ve seen a ton of improvement from Usman in the striking game, however, I believe he’s going to be at a sizable disadvantage tomorrow night on the feet.

That said, I look for Usman to work off of his jab to force clinches and takedown attempts. If Usman can control Masvidal, he’s going to win this rematch. However, if Masvidal keeps this a striking matchup, that’s where things get truly interesting.

Ultimately, I think Masvidal is going to need a knockout to become UFC welterweight champion. I can’t see him winning a decision over Kamaru Usman. I believe that Usman is going to get the better of the grappling and even with a full camp, I don’t see Gamebred beating The Nigerian Nightmare tomorrow night.

Prediction: Kamaru Usman by Unanimous Decision

UFC: Colby Covington is next in line for the title per Dana White

UFC, Colby Covington

This weekend at UFC 261, the welterweight title is on the line. The champion Kamaru Usman (18-1) is set to defend his title against Jorge Masvidal (35-14). This is a rematch from a fight that happened last year. That matchup took place at UFC 251 on Fight Island.

When 2020 started, the UFC was trying to put together the title fight between Usman and Masvidal. However, due to failed financial negotiations, the fight never came together. Instead, the UFC had Gilbert Burns step in to face Usman on Fight Island.

A week before the fight, Burns tested positive for COVID. With Burns having tested positive, the UFC went back to Masvidal on short notice. Usman would go on to defeat Masvidal by decision, but there have been a lot of questions around that matchup due to the short notice nature.

When 2021 started, the UFC was trying to book Masvidal against Colby Covington (16-2). Covington is the top ranked contender in the welterweight division and only Usman has defeated him over the last few years. There is bad blood between Covington and Masvidal which is why the promotion was pushing for the fight.

However, after Kamaru Usman called for the fight with Masvidal to be ran back, the UFC shifted gears. They abandoned the Covington fight and booked the rematch between Usman and Masvidal. While Covington was left without a dance partner, that will not be the case for long per Dana White.

UFC title shot for Covington

This week, Dana White told TSN that Colby Covington would be facing the winner of the UFC 261 title fight between Usman and Masvidal. Both fights make perfect sense for Colby Covington. He’s got bad blood with Masvidal and a rematch with Usman would be massive.

Usman and Covington fought back at UFC 245. It was one of the fights of the year in 2019. The fight was an instant classic and Usman won by fifth round TKO. Since that win, Covington got a win over Tyron Woodley while Usman has defeated Masvidal and Gilbert Burns.

Colby Covington had previously said that he would be preparing to be the backup for this weekend’s main event. However, we now know that the UFC is planning on him getting the next title shot. So, instead of Covington preparing to fight this weekend, he can prepare to study his next opponent.

Colby Covington will be at UFC 261; willing to be the backup fighter for the main event

UFC, Colby Covington

Colby Covington (16-2) has been waiting patiently for another shot at the UFC welterweight title. The former interim welterweight champion last fought back in September when he dominated Tyron Woodley.

After the fight was over, the UFC attempted to book Covington against Jorge Masvidal (35-14). The promotion wanted the two to fight and coach The Ultimate Fighter. However, a deal never materialized.

Then, after UFC 258 where Kamaru Usman (18-1) called out Masvidal, the promotion shifted gears. We learned that UFC 261 was going to be headlined by the rematch between Usman and Masvidal. 

The two men fought back at UFC 251 and Usman won a unanimous decision. However, Usman was far from pleased with his performance and it eats at him that Masvidal has the excuse of taking the fight on short notice.

Because of that, Usman asked the UFC to run things back and the promotion agreed. That of course left Colby Covington without a fight. However, despite not having a fight booked, Covington is training as if he’s in camp.

Covington the UFC 261 backup?

Colby Covington believes that he is the next in line to face the winner of UFC 261. When looking at the division, it would make sense to have Covington fight the winner. Either fight would be massive for the promotion.

However, with how crazy things have been over the last year, Covington is staying ready. The former interim UFC champion told The Schmo this week that he is going to be in Jacksonville for UFC 261 and he will be ready if someone falls out.

Covington said, “I’ll be showing up for that fight. I’ll be there ready if anybody pulls out, I’ll be stepping in… I’m staying ready. I got my weight under control and I’m training as if I’m fighting on April 24th for the world title.”

It is definitely nice for the UFC to have a quality backup option like Covington. Should anything happen to either Usman or Masvidal, the event would still be massive with Covington sliding into the main event.

UFC: Colby Covington wants either Usman or Masvidal next; not interested in Leon Edwards

UFC, Colby Covington

Former UFC interim welterweight champion Colby Covington (16-2) is currently waiting for his next opportunity inside the octagon. The last couple of months have been very frustrating for Covington as he’s seen a couple of opportunities fall through.

Last September, Covington dominated Tyron Woodley. After the fight was over, the UFC spent months trying to book the matchup between Covington and Jorge Masvidal (35-14). However, the fight never got done.

At UFC 258, Kamaru Usman (18-1) successfully defended his welterweight title. After the fight was over, Usman called out Masvidal for a rematch. The champion said he wasn’t satisfied with the way he won the first fight. After that callout, the promotion shifted gears.

Instead of booking Covington – Masvidal, the focus became booking Masvidal in a rematch against Usman. Last night, we learned that UFC 261 is going to be headlined by the Usman and Masvidal rematch in front of a full crowd in Jacksonville, Florida.

What’s this mean for the former interim UFC champion?

In reality, this is actually great news for Colby Covington. Originally, the UFC was looking at booking Usman and Masvidal as the coaches of The Ultimate Fighter. With that, they likely weren’t going to fight until the end of the year.

Covington told Submission Radio yesterday that he only wanted to fight Masvidal or Usman next. He’s not interested in Leon Edwards (18-3, 1 NC) and believes Edwards should fight Belal Muhammad again after what happened at UFC Vegas 21.

If Masvidal and Usman were to coach TUF, Covington would likely be out most of the year if he waited. However, Covington did say he would take a fight if the UFC were to step up and make him a respectable offer.

With the promotion booking this fight for next month, I believe all sides will win here. I believe that Colby Covington is likely going to fight the winner. I wouldn’t be shocked if the UFC still did The Ultimate Fighter with Covington and the winner.

UFC 261 headlined by Kamaru Usman – Jorge Masvidal 2 in Jacksonville with a full crowd

Huge UFC news has broken this evening. Dana White took to his personal twitter account this evening to announce that the promotion is going to host an event with a full crowd on April 24th.

White announced that UFC 261 will take place in Jacksonville, Florida in front of a full crowd. Jacksonville was the first place to host a UFC event after the pandemic shut things down in 2020 and they will be the first city to welcome back a full crowd.

However, the news didn’t stop there. White also announced that UFC 261 will be headlined by Kamaru Usman (18-1) – Jorge Masvidal (35-14) 2. A rematch from their first fight that took place at UFC 251 on Fight Island.

The promotion has also announced two additional title fights for that event already. Zhang Weili – Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shevchenko – Jessica Andrade will also take place on the April 24th card.

Massive UFC event with fans

It’s huge news that fans are coming back, but it’s perhaps even bigger news that we are seeing the rematch between Usman and Masvidal. Usman just defended his welterweight title against Gilbert Burns back at UFC 258.

There had been talk about the two coaching The Ultimate Fighter and fighting in September. However, that plan was scrapped in order to have these two headline the first UFC event back with a full crowd.

Masvidal will now get his chance to fight Kamaru Usman with a full training camp. Gamebred has maintained that if he had a full camp to prepare for Usman, he would’ve defeated him back in July.

Kamaru Usman looked better than ever last month when he defeated Gilbert Burns. His striking looked sensational and he was able to handle the early onslaught from Burns and finish him in the third round of their title fight.

After the fight was over, Usman called for a rematch with Masvidal. Usman doesn’t want there to be any doubt as to who is the best welterweight in the world. On April 24th, these two will finally settle the argument on who’s the best welterweight in the UFC.

UFC officially books Zhang Weili – Rose Namajunas

The UFC has finalized one of the more anticipated women’s title fights of 2021. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was the first to report that the promotion has verbal agreements in place for the strawweight title fight between Zhang Weili (21-1) and Rose Namajunas (9-4).

The matchup will take place at UFC 261 on April 24th. The title fight is the second women’s title fight on the card. This week we learned that the promotion had also finalized the title fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade. 

While this was always the fight to make, it wasn’t the easiest road getting here. Rose Namajunas is the clear number one contender in the strawweight division. She solidified her spot when she got redemption against Jessica Andrade at UFC 251.

However, Dana White came out and said that he wasn’t sure if Namajunas wanted the fight. The promotion had actually kicked the tires on moving on from this matchup, but ultimately the fight got done.

Namajunas is a former UFC strawweight champion and her reign was cut short by a Jessica Andrade slam. That was her only loss since 2016 and she’s already avenged that loss. She is clearly the second best fighter in the strawweight division right now.

UFC’s new superstar

Over the last couple of years, Zhang Weili has taken the UFC by storm. In August of 2019, Weili finished Jessica Andrade in the first round to become the strawweight champion. She is the first UFC champion from China and she won the title in China.

From there, Weili had the Fight of the Year in 2020 against the former long-time champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Weili was pushed to the absolute limit, but in the end, she was able to win a split decision to retain her UFC strawweight title.

Being on this card to me isn’t a coincidence. Dana White has publicly said that he wouldn’t mind seeing Weili move up to 125 pounds to challenge Valentina Shevchenko should she beat Rose Namajunas. I believe the UFC is putting these two title fights together hoping a superfight materializes.

This fight should be incredible given the skillsets of both of these ladies. Namajunas looked like she was poised to be the champion for a long time before that Andrade slam. Now, it’s hard to imagine anyone beating Weili at 115 pounds. This should be a good one on April 24th.

BREAKING: UFC books Valentina Shevchenko – Jessica Andrade

The UFC has finalized the next title fight in the women’s flyweight division. The flyweight champion, Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) will be defending her title against the former UFC strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade (21-8).

The matchup will take place at UFC 261 on April 24th. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report the news. Shevchenko will be looking to defend her flyweight title for the fifth time on April 24th.

There is no doubting that Shevchenko is one of the best fighters in all of the UFC. Since making her debut with the promotion, the only fighter to get the better of Shevchenko was Amanda Nunes, who of course is considered to be the best of all time.

Worth noting that both of the losses against Nunes took place at 135 pounds. Shevchenko is much more natural and at her best at 125 pounds. Since the UFC created the flyweight division, Shevchenko has been in complete control.

Her dominance has gotten to the point where fans are amazed when she loses a round. Not a fight, but merely a round. Take her last fight at UFC 255 as the perfect example. In that fight, Shevchenko took on the tough, Jennifer Maia.

Maia was able to use her strength and grappling to clearly win the second round. That round made everyone stand back, but Shevchenko would go on to win four of the five rounds. She is truly something special and she has an exciting fight on her hands in a couple of months.

Third UFC weight class for Andrade

The UFC career of Jessica Andrade has been an interesting one. When she made her debut with the promotion back in 2013, there was only the bantamweight division. With that, Andrade was forced to fight at 135 pounds if she wanted to fight for the UFC.

Because she’s so talented, she was able to hold her own despite being much smaller. Then, the promotion created the strawweight division at 115 pounds. Andrade carries a lot of muscle, but she was able to cut down to that weight where she would be on a more even playing field.

The highlight of her strawweight career came at UFC 237 when she became the strawweight champion. However, she would go on to lose the title in her first defense. After losing a rematch to Rose Namajunas back on Fight Island, Andrade decided to try out her third weight class.

125 pounds is much more natural for Andrade. She doesn’t have to deplete herself due to an extreme weight cut and she maintains her speed that she had at strawweight. That makes her very dangerous to other flyweights.

She made her flyweight debut against top contender, Katlyn Chookagian. With a combination of body shots, Andrade was able to get the first round stoppage to earn a shot at the UFC’s flyweight queen. This is going to be one helluva fight and I’m excited to watch.

UFC 258 co-main event between Chris Weidman – Uriah Hall is off; fight pushed back

Chris Weidman

UFC 258 has lost it’s co-main event. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani was first to report that the middleweight matchup between Chris Weidman (15-5) and Uriah Hall (16-9) has been called off.

The fight is a rematch from their first matchup that took place almost 11 years ago. Weidman got the better of that fight and he was able to stop Uriah Hall. That was long before either man was in the UFC.

Per Helwani, Weidman recently tested positive for COVID-19. Because of that positive test, the fight that was originally scheduled to take place in 15 days is being pushed back. The current plan is for the fight to take place at UFC 261.

The current target date for that fight is April 24th. Given the amount of time needed in between the two dates, one can assume that Weidman was pretty sick from his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Big UFC Middleweight Matchup

Both of these men currently rank inside the UFC’s top 11 at middleweight. Chris Weidman returned to the middleweight division in 2020 after a one-fight stint at the light heavyweight division.

The former UFC middleweight champion was able to grind out a decision over Omari Akhmedov in his return to middleweight. Going back to July 2017, Weidman is 2-1 in his last three middleweight contests including a submission over Kelvin Gastelum.

However, Weidman is just 2-5 overall in his last seven fights. More concerning is the fact that the former UFC champion was knocked out in all five of those losses. Nevertheless, Weidman seems dedicated and focused on one final run at 185.

Uriah Hall is such a unique fighter. He has always had the talent, but he couldn’t quite get over the hump in the UFC. He has some solid wins over guys like Anderson Silva, Gegard Mousasi, and Thiago Santos.

However, for the majority of his UFC career, Hall has come up short in the big fights. Since 2015, he’s lost four times, but all four times he was going against the elites of the division. The losses came against Robert Whittaker, Paulo Costa, Derek Brunson, and Gegard Mousasi.

Yet, Hall believes he’s the best he’s ever been. If he’s able to defeat Weidman at UFC 261, it would be his fourth straight victory. He would once again be ready to challenge someone in the top five. Maybe this will finally be the time he breaks through.