3 fights to look forward to, 2 fights that will likely disappoint at UFC 261

The poster for UFC 261
The poster for UFC 261
Rafael Bandayrel

UFC 261 is a loaded event with three title bouts scheduled to take place on one action-packed night. To top it off, UFC fans will be in attendance for the first time in over a year to witness the spectacle.

But it's rare, even for the most stacked events, to deliver a barnburner on every single fight on the card. As promising as it's shaping up to be, UFC 261 is no exception. That said, let's take a look at three fights to look forward to and two that are likely to disappoint at UFC 261.

3 fights to look forward to at UFC 261:

#3 Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade

Valentina Shevchenko
Valentina Shevchenko

In the first slated title fight of the night, UFC women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko will be looking to extend her winning streak to seven against Jessica Andrade. 'Bullet' is showing no signs of slowing down as she's won three of her six most recent fights in the octagon via stoppage.

Meanwhile, Jessica Andrade will strive for a second chance to once again become a champion in the UFC. This time around, the former UFC strawweight titleholder will now try to do so in the women's 125-pound division. She made the most out of her debut at flyweight when she took out top contender Katlyn Chookagian via first round TKO.

It seems absurd that Jessica Andrade has earned a title shot after just one win. But that just speaks to the sheer dominance of Valentina Shevchenko as she has completely cleaned out her division to the point where she's got no one else to face but a newcomer in her weight class.

The outcome of the fight seems predictable as Shevchenko will come in as the heavy favorite. However, a potential showcase fight for Valentina Shevchenko is still one of the most exciting bouts on the UFC 261 card.

#2 Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas

In the co-main event, Weili Zhang will defend her UFC strawweight crown against Rose Namajunas in what has the potential to be the single most technical matchup at UFC 261.

Chinese superstar Weili Zhang is on a mind-boggling 21-fight winning streak. In her most recent outing, Weili Zhang went to war with ex-UFC strawweight queen Joanna Jedrzejczyk in arguably the greatest women's bout in the Octagon, and earned a split decision nod.

'Thug' Rose Namajunas, on the other hand, bounced back from a traumatic loss at UFC 237, when she ran it back with rival Jessica Andrade and landed on the right side of a split decision.

On paper, the co-main title fight is already intriguing as is. But Rose Namajunas stoked the flames of the rivalry when she made comments about wanting to defeat Weili Zhang for "what she represents" as a person. Weili Zhang has been mum the entire time, but it will definitely be personal when the champion and challenger collide at UFC 261.

#1 Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal

UFC 251 Usman v Masvidal: Weigh-Ins
UFC 251 Usman v Masvidal: Weigh-Ins

UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman will attempt to put Jorge Masvidal away, once and for all in the main event of UFC 261. In a rematch of UFC 251's main event, Kamaru Usman will be looking for a repeat performance of his one-sided title defense last July.

Jorge Masvidal, on the other hand, will try to prove that he has what it takes to reach the UFC welterweight mountaintop. During his first shot at Kamaru Usman's UFC welterweight belt, Jorge Masvidal stepped in as a late replacement for Gilbert Burns. As a result, Jorge Masvidal's lack of preparation was utterly exposed, having no answers for Kamaru Usman's wrestling-heavy offense.

The main event of UFC 261 could reveal one of the two things. Masvidal either proves that his failed quest to dethrone Usman was simply due to the absence of a complete camp, or the champion could demonstrate that he's just the better fighter, point blank.

2 fights that are likely to disappoint at UFC 261:

#2 Anthony Smith vs. Jimmy Crute

On paper, surging star Jimmy Crute taking on wily veteran Anthony Smith to kickstart the UFC 261 main card should be a delightful treat.

Former light heavyweight contender Anthony 'Lionheart' Smith will try to regain momentum by stopping a promising young fighter in his tracks. Meanwhile, 25-year-old Jimmy Crute will try to send a message that he belongs in the big leagues by taking out a very talented veteran.

Ideally, this fight will serve as a coming-out party for exciting up-and-comer Jimmy Crute. However, Anthony Smith is still in good shape and he could definitely sidetrack Crute's ascent at UFC 261, much like Andrei Arlovski did to Chase Sherman last week.

That said, there's a good chance that both fighters might look to play it safe, trying to out-point each other as opposed to going for the kill.

#1 Uriah Hall vs. Chris Weidman

Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman will face Uriah Hall in a rematch of their 2010 clash outside of the UFC. In their first meeting at Ring of Combat 31, Chris Weidman got the better of Uriah Hall, earning a TKO win in round one.

However, Hall has drastically evolved since then as he transformed into one of the most exciting middleweight prospects following his stint at The Ultimate Fighter season 17. Weidman, on the other hand, rose to prominence by dethroning the legendary Anderson Silva in 2013.

Unfortunately, both competitors at 36-years-old, are in the twilight of their careers. If this fight were to happen six years ago, it would be a totally different story. Come UFC 261, fans will witness a watered-down version of what Chris Weidman vs. Uriah Hall could have been.

Edited by Avinash Tewari
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