We’re running it back for UFC 261. Usman vs Masvidal 2 with two women’s titles on the line. This PPV looks very strong and could be one of the stand outs when the year is done.
Anthony Smith vs Jimmy Crute – Light Heavyweight Division
We have a legend vs a prospect to start off the card. Smith comes into this bout 34-16. He’s dangerous anywhere the fight goes. Has brilliant submissions and has the power to KO the majority of the Light Heavyweights. Crute is a brilliant talent that is 12-1 in his MMA career. He’s a master with his feet and has incredible power. His wrestling and BJJ has impressed me as well winning by a brutal Kumura in February last year. This is a tough pick. I don’t think we’ll see a finish here, both guys are tough enough to last 15 minutes but I’m siding with Crute. I think the octagon IQ of Smith will come into play but I think Jimmy can damage him enough to sway the judges decision.
Prediction: Jimmy Crute by decision
Uriah Hall vs Chris Weidman 2 – Middleweight Division
I think this one is a simple breakdown. Weidman, the former champ, has a brittle chin and if Hall hits it clean, he goes out. However, if Weidman can get Uriah on the ground, Uriah isn’t getting up for the rest of the round. This is a real 50/50. If Uriah wins it’s by KO if Chris wins it’s by decision. I’ll take Uriah Hall, this is probably the easiest but hardest fight to predict.
Prediction: Uriah Hall by KO round 2
Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs Jessica Andrade – Women’s Flyweight Championship
First title fight. Shevchenko comes into this bout 20-3 in her MMA career. Probably the 2nd best female fighter on the planet right now and an expert in Muay Thai, her striking is elite. Her grappling is outstanding, she always seems to have her opponent on the back foot as she dominates the cage. Andrade will probably be her toughest test for the belt. Andrade is the former Strawweight champion and is a brilliant boxer. Andrade can also grapple but against Shevchenko I don’t believe she’ll have the advantage. Shevchenko is much bigger and is much more technically sound than Jessica. I’ve got to pick the champ to retain.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko by TKO round 4
Weliei Zhang (c) vs Rose Namajunas -Strawweight Championship
This is the fight I’m looking forward to the most on this card. We haven’t seen Zhang since her war with Joanna at UFC 248 so it’s good to see her back in the octagon. Zhang’s kickboxing is elite and she hits hard. I don’t know how JJ survived that fight, especially with that hematoma that Zhang left on her forehead. Namajunas is an excellent MMA fighter. The former champ is capable of putting most of the women to sleep. I think the key aspect in this fight is the conditioning. We know Zhang can go 5 rounds at 100% intensity but can Rose? In both her fights with Andrade, the Brazilian was much better than Rose in the closing round. I think this is what gives Zhang the advantage so I’ve got to go with the her for the win.
Prediction: Weilei Zhang by TKO round 4
Kamaru Usman (c) vs Jorge Masvidal 2 – Welterweight Championship
Masvidal has six days to prepare for the first fight, how will he do with a full training camp? I’ll be honest, I don’t know if he can do much more. Jorge has the advantage on the feet. He’s a KO artist. His highlight reel says it all to be honest. Darren Till, Ben Askren, Donald Cerrone. He destroyed Nate Diaz’s face. However, I don’t think he can do that Usman. The second Usman gets in trouble he’ll grapple and take Jorge down and Jorge won’t get off the cage if Kamaru puts him there. Usman is an elite wrestler, he suffocates guys and his bodily positioning is exquisite. Even on the feet, Trevor Wittman has got his jab pinpoint accurate. He beat Burns with that jab. I think he’ll use it to help control the distance if he gets uncomfortable then shoot for a takedown. I’ve gonna take Kamaru. If he wins this, people have got to start comparing him to GSP, he’s not there yet but he’s coming for that GOAT status.
Prediction: Kamaru Usman by decision