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3 underdogs most likely to score an upset at UFC 261

UFC 217: Jedrzejczyk v Namajunas
UFC 217: Jedrzejczyk v Namajunas
ANALYST
Modified 20 Apr 2021
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UFC 261 promises to be a jam-packed event as UFC champions Kamaru Usman, Valentina Shevchenko and Weili Zhang are set to defend their titles in one card.

To top it off, a live crowd will be present to witness the marquee matchups at Jacksonville Arena, as fans were allowed back into the stadiums for the first time in over a year.

While those two factors alone have set up UFC 261 to emerge as one of the most memorable events in recent history, what can make it even more unforgettable is if it turns out to be a night full of surprising upsets.

3 underdogs who are most likely to win in an upset at UFC 261:

#3 Alex Oliveira

UFC 248 Adesanya v Romero
UFC 248 Adesanya v Romero

Welterweight veteran Alex Oliveira will be hungry for redemption when he steps inside the Octagon against standout performer Randy Brown in the final fight of the preliminary card.

Oliveira and Brown arrived at the UFC less than a year apart, with the former having made his debut in March 2015 while the latter came in 10 months later. However, Oliveira has already amassed 10 more UFC fights on record than his opponent.

A fixture in the 155-pound division, the 33-year-old Brazilian will be making his 20th UFC appearance. Meanwhile, "Rude Boy" only has 10 outings in the Octagon since his debut in January 2016.

And while Oliveira is expected to lose to the younger Brown, his experience could still propel him to an unexpected win at UFC 261.

#2 Anthony Smith

After hovering around the UFC light heavyweight title picture a couple of years ago, Anthony Smith will try to re-establish himself as a contender at UFC 261, against a surging up-and-comer in Jimmy Crute.

At UFC 261, Smith will be hoping to earn his second consecutive win after two straight losses in 2020 but it's a tall order, given his opponent is on a hot streak. The 25-year-old Crute earned back-to-back stoppage wins, submitting Michal Oleksiejczuk at UFC Fight Night 168 and knocking out Modestas Bukauskas at UFC FN 180.

Nevertheless, Smith has the advantage of having gone to war against some of the best talents the 205-pound weight class has to offer. He holds notable wins over former UFC champions Rashad Evans and Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua, as well as Swedish sensation Alexander Gustafsson. On top of that, Alex Smith held his own against light heavyweight GOAT Jon Jones in a losing effort.

If anybody can spoil the rise of Jimmy Crute, it's definitely Anthony 'Lionheart' Smith.

#1 Rose Namajunas

Of the three challengers in UFC 261, Rose Namajunas arguably has the best chance of winning. After bouncing back from a horrible KO loss to Jessica Andrade, the 28-year-old is on a mission to take back what she believes was hers all along.

To reclaim the UFC Strawweight title, however, 'Thug' Rose will have to slay one of the biggest goliaths in the promotion - reigning champion Weili Zhang. But earlier in her career, Namajunas shattered similar odds when she ended the reign of then-UFC Strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Should Namajunas show up at UFC 261 in her best physical and mental shape, she'll be in a good position to snap Weili Zhang's 21-fight winning streak and deliver another jaw-dropping upset.

Published 20 Apr 2021
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