The first UFC show with fans in attendance for well over a year, UFC 261 had high hopes from fans around the world. And to say the show lived up to expectations would be an understatement.
UFC 261 saw a violent finish in all of its five main card bouts, as well as in numerous ones on the preliminary card. In fact, it’s highly likely that it’ll be remembered as the best UFC show of 2021.
Without further ado, here are the five most explosive moments from UFC 261: Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal II.
#1 Kamaru Usman destroys Jorge Masvidal to continue his dominant run as UFC welterweight champion
However, due to Masvidal taking the fight on late notice – around a week – there were some questions around whether the result would be the same in last night’s rematch. Well, this time Usman left no questions as to who the better fighter is.
‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ looked like the more comfortable fighter from the off, and in the second round, he landed a right hand that knocked Masvidal silly upon impact.
It was the kind of knockout that you’d usually associate with a power puncher like Derrick Lewis or Francis Ngannou – not a fighter who was once labelled dull due to his wrestling-heavy style.
Usman was already well on his way to challenging Georges St. Pierre’s record as the UFC’s greatest-ever welterweight before last night. And while he’s still not there yet, this knockout will make UFC highlight reels for years to come, and puts him well on his way to equalling ‘GSP’.
#2 Rose Namajunas turns Weili Zhang’s lights off with a beautiful head kick
Not too many UFC fans were banking on Rose Namajunas to regain the UFC strawweight title she lost in 2019 from Weili Zhang at UFC 261. However, ‘Thug Rose’ proved them very wrong, and did so in style.
Quite how Weili didn’t expect Namajunas to throw a left head kick at some point was a surprise. After all, ‘Thug Rose’ had used it to set up her finish of Michelle Waterson in 2017. But just a minute into the fight, Namajunas threw the strike and connected with ‘Magnum’ perfectly, dropping her like a ton of bricks.
We’ve seen plenty of beautiful finishes in the UFC strawweight division, including Weili’s KO of Jessica Andrade and Namajunas’ own knockout of Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
However, this one probably pushes them all into the shade, and starts Namajunas’ second reign as UFC champion with a bang.
#3 Fate comes around to bite Chris Weidman, big time
Back in December 2013, Chris Weidman was partially responsible for one of the nastiest-looking injuries in UFC history.
UFC 168 saw him check a leg kick from Anderson Silva, whose leg subsequently snapped like a twig, ending his challenge for the UFC middleweight title immediately. And sadly, ‘The Spider’ never really recovered from the injury, winning just one more fight before his retirement last year.
Well, last night saw fate come around to bite Weidman in his fight with Uriah Hall, when the same injury happened to him after just 17 seconds. Incredibly, Hall didn’t even throw – let alone land – a strike before the fight was over, and Weidman was taken out of the Octagon on a stretcher.
This moment was undoubtedly one of the most explosive at UFC 261, but it was also hard to watch and may well end Weidman’s UFC career.
#4 Valentina Shevchenko dominates Jessica Andrade in violent fashion
The UFC were trying to sell Jessica Andrade as the toughest challenge that Valentina Shevchenko had ever faced in her tenure as UFC flyweight champion – but that simply wasn’t the case.
‘The Bullet’ dominated Andrade just as much as she’d dominated the likes of Katlyn Chookagian, Jessica Eye and Jennifer Maia. And to cap things off, she also finished off ‘Bate Estaca’ in violent fashion.
The first round saw Shevchenko basically throw Andrade around, dominating her physically with her takedowns. Essentially, this was the first time we’d seen Andrade outmuscled since her UFC debut loss to Liz Carmouche in 2013.
By the second round, it was clear that only one woman was going to win this fight. Shevchenko took Andrade down again and channelled her inner Matt Hughes, battering her with elbows from a crucifix position for a TKO win.
It’s unlikely that anyone can stop Shevchenko going forward, but thankfully, unlike her dull fights with Maia and Chookagian, this one ended with more brutality we’ve seen from ‘The Bullet’ since her KO of Eye in 2019.
#5 Danaa Batgerel lands a beautiful counter to knock out Kevin Natividad
UFC 261’s preliminary card had plenty of fun fights on offer, but the most explosive finish came from Mongolia’s Danaa Batgerel.
Already known as a skilled striker, Batgerel used a beautiful counter to take out Kevin Natividad after just 50 seconds of their fight last night.
Natividad attempted to step in to land some strikes of his own, only for ‘The Storm’ to unleash a clean left hand that landed directly onto the jaw. Natividad crumpled instantly, and a follow-up swarm quickly ended the night for him.
This was an excellent knockout from Batgerel, and was also his second in a row in the UFC. Expect this exciting prospect to make the main card of his next UFC event.