Anything can happen in a fight, especially when the most prestigious prize in MMA is at stake. That being said, predicting the outcome of a matchup is a tall task but it's not impossible. On that note, we have discussed below the predictions for all three title fights in the upcoming UFC 261 event.
Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Andrade: UFC 261
Valentina Shevchenko has been dominating the women's flyweight division since 2018 and no one has ever come close to giving her a troublesome time. There's little reason to believe that her title defense against Jessica Andrade would be a different story.
Jessica Andrade impressed during her most recent fight against Katlyn Chookagian. However, before that, Jessica Andrade lost back-to-back against Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas.
It seems absurd that a fighter can get into the title picture after just one win. But that just serves as a testament to Valentina Shevchenko's sheer dominance. Valentina Shevchenko cleaned out her division so thoroughly that UFC matchmakers had to resort to the likes of Jessica Andrade as her next challenger.
Verdict: Valentina Shevchenko to retain her title via TKO in round 2
Zhang Weili vs Rose Namajunas: UFC 261
Zhang Weili emerged as a victor in her last 21 professional fights and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Against 'Thug' Rose Namajunas, Zhang is pegged as a heavy favorite, with OddsShark.com giving her a 73 percent chance of defending her title. Simply put, oddmakers and analysts believe that Rose Namajunas will be a good test for Zhang Weili, albeit one that she can easily pass.
If Rose Namajunas, however, could survive Zhang's aggressive offense early on, she'd have a chance to make things interesting. This won't be Rose Namajunas's first time facing a dominant champion either. 'Thug' Rose shocked the MMA world in 2017, when she TKO'd then-longtime strawweight champ Joana Jedrzejczyk to become the new 115-pound titleholder.
In fact, Shevchenko – who'll defend her title just moments before Zhang defends hers – believes Rose Namajunas can pull off another upset to reclaim the strawweight title.
“I don’t want to rush it yet because I still believe Rose is going to be the winner. I still believe in it. If it happens in this way, then there’s no more talk, who wants that fight. But let’s see, let’s see what’s going to happen on that night," Shevchenko told Fanatics View, when she was asked about a potential matchup between her and either Zhang or Namajunas down the line.
Verdict: Rose Namajunas to win a close split decision
Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal: UFC 261
In their first meeting, Kamaru Usman put on a grappling clinic and earned a lopsided unanimous decision win against Jorge Masvidal. The rematch, however, will be under completely different circumstances, as Jorge Masvidal will come in fully prepared – unlike before when he stepped in as a late replacement.
Kamaru Usman displayed that he's leaps and bounds ahead of Jorge Masvidal in the wrestling department. He controlled Gamebred in the clinch and dictated where the fight took place for the entirety of five rounds.
Unless Jorge Masvidal's defensive wrestling has drastically improved since then, it's difficult to see him besting Kamaru Usman, with or without the benefit of a full training camp.
Verdict: Kamaru Usman to retain his title via unanimous decision