A Time For Violence, UFC 261 Predictions
Source: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC
Isn't it strange how time flies? I mean, the last time these two savages fought, it was our introduction to Fight Island. It was a mystical and strange time to say the least. However, we have officially moved past the phase with no fans as a packed house (or as packed as this house can be) will bear witness to a rematch nine months in the making. Usman has since solidified himself as one, if not the P4P fighter in the world.
As for the rest of the card, Valentina Shevchenko and Zhang Weili will also defend their belts. In my mind, any night of fights where three belts are on the line sounds like a good time! As much as one has to take the pandemic seriously, you have to admit it will be awesome having a mass of fans back inside arenas. The energy from the weigh-ins alone was sorely missed. It's a great card, so let's get some predictions going!
Jorge Masvidal vs Kamaru Usman
Well, well, well, look at this. We have ourselves an old fashion grudge match where one man convincingly beat the other, and the other man did absolutely to earn this rematch. Make all the excuses you, Masvidal is only getting this rematch due to his popularity. I respect it because this is the fight game. However, I don't this fight is going to be much different than the last. I think we could be in for more of a lopsided win.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Kamaru Usman is the best fighter in the world in my eyes. The way he dispatched Gilbert Burns showed the class that he's is. With his improved stand-up, unrelenting pace, and warrior spirit, I just don't see many paths for Jorge to win. Obviously, he'll be banking on the KO, but even saying that what makes Jorge's striking that much better than Usman's? I don't see it.
Enough Jorge slander though, he's a legitimate star and is also a legitimate threat to Usman's title. I guess I don't fundamentally understand how he earned a rematch. Bank accounts aside, he should have had to fight either Colby or Leon, but alas, here we are. A packed house, no doubt, influenced this decision. One can only hope this fight has some more sizzle to it than the last go around.
Prediction: Kamaru Usman, 3rd RD TKO
Rose Namajunas vs Zhang Weili
Both of these women are coming off of two very close split decision wins. It just so happens Weili's was one of the greatest fights of all time (Rose's was quite a dandy as well). Weili is so dynamic in pretty much every aspect of the game, and while I don't think she has a clear striking advantage, I do believe that she'll be able to give Rose fits.
I think this fight will come down to each lady's will to win. I don't say that to be too formulaic, but this has all the ingredients to be a flat-out banger! The only that concerns me about Rose is her ability to keep pace. Against Andrade, she got off to a fast start, however as the fight progressed, the Brazilian clawed her way back in. I firmly believe that if that was a five-round fight, Andrade probably comes out on top.
If Rose can suppress Zhang's output, then she has a good shot of outpointing her. However, given Weili's ability to create chaos, I don't think that will be possible, at least not in the later rounds. This should be an awesome tilt, but I'm leaning team Red here.
Prediction: Zhang Weili, Decision
Jessica Andrade vs Valentina Shevchenko
If the UFC were a pyramid scheme, then Nunes and Shevchenko would be the two clear-cut women at the top. Valentina is a monster. There is no doubt about that. However, this could be the fight that pushes her to a level we haven't seen since she fought Nunes. Andrade has the power and durability to hang with champ on the feet, and she has the grappling skills to avoid getting washed out, but it really comes down to how Shevchenko will react.
If the champ tries to lay back and counter, it will allow Andrade to throw as much as she likes, and she enjoys throwing. However, Andrade has never been good against disruptive strikers. Rose and Joanna come to mind. Valentina is better than both of those ladies. I still favour the champ, but I think this a more interesting fight than most people think.
Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko, Decision
Uriah Hall vs Chris Weidman
There was a time when it would be easy to choose a winner in this tilt. Weidman was the face of the 180-pound division until his chin disappeared. Hall usually has a tough time against guys who can grind him out, but that's not really Weidman's game, and even if it was, I'm not sure he is that much of a better grappler than Hall is. Weidman will probably start fast, get caught, and then get finished. Story of his career lately.
Prediction: Uriah Hall, 3RD RD TKO
Jimmy Crute vs Anthony Smith
This is a classic case of recency bias. Sure, Cute has been on a hot streak and, Smith has looked less than stellar, but this is a big step for Crute in terms of opposition. Say what you will against Lionheart, but Devin Clark was on a similar run and, Smith's stock couldn't have been any lower when they fought and, we see how that turned out. Crute might crack, but Smith is the better fighter with more tools in the shed.
Prediction: Anthony Smith, 2ND RD SUB
Rest of the Card
Brown def Oliveira
Grant def Sekulic
Allen def Roberson
Connelly def Sabatini
Batgerel def Natividad
Zhu def Vargas
Aori def Molina
Carnelossi def Na
2021 Predictions Record: 58-33-1