In the aftermath of UFC 261, we take a look at three things we learned.
It’s hard to put into words just how sensational UFC 261 was. The promotion made sure that the first event back with a full audience in attendance was stacked with big fights. But even a card loaded with elite talent doesn’t always deliver. In the past, events with three world title fights tended to be on the long and dragged-out side.
Despite that, expectations for this event were high, and the consensus from fans and pundits in the lead-up was that it would deliver. But nobody was ready for just how spectacular this card would be, to say it was highly entertaining would be highly understating it. UFC 261 was a historical event that will go down as perhaps the single most dramatic evening in UFC history.
There’s so much to take away from the outcome of this event, whether it be from the heroics and outstanding performances, or the stark reminder of just how dangerous and serious this sport is.
We learned and experienced a lot, a few of those things are as follows.
Rose Namajunas is better than we realized
Anyone who follows this sport knows that Namajunas is one of the very best females in the world. But the performance of Namajunas to reclaim the flyweight title was shocking. Despite being a slight betting underdog, it was perfectly reasonable to expect that Namajunas could win. Weili Zhang was the tougher and harder-hitting out of the two, the type of fighter that trudges forward no matter what’s being thrown her way. A style that’s tailor-made for someone like Namajunas who is supremely technical, cuts angles and has great head movement. But the confidence and composure she projected on route to an incredibly rare front head kick knockout was next level. To stop a world champion in that fashion just over one minute into the fight was masterful, showing the world that she’s even better than we thought.
Kamaru Usman has reached a new level
The power of the right hand that Usman landed on Jorge Masvidal put the entire sport and its fanbase on notice. We knew how dangerous Usman was, he’s always gotten credit. But to do what he did against someone like Masvidal marked a breakthrough for the Welterweight champion. Although the circumstances surrounding this fight were far better for Masvidal than it was in the first fight, Usman devastatingly ended a well-prepared Masvidal with conviction. The win launches him into a whole new world in terms of the level of confidence he now has. Usman has broken through to a new stratosphere in this game with the convincing win, making his stock and reverence from fans at an all-time high.
MMA can be cruel
What happened to Chris Weidman is devastating in many different ways, it was perhaps the most gruesome injury in UFC history. There’s no telling what permanent damage was done and what difficulties lay ahead on the road to recovery. With fights happening every week, watching these men and women go to war and routinely walk out of the octagon on their own two feet has given us a false sense of how safe this sport is. We take for granted how lucky fighters are to stay as healthy as they do for participating in such a dangerous sport. But what happened to Weidman last night was a reminder of how dangerous this sport is, and how serious it needs to be taken. He doesn’t just have to experience the unimaginable pain and agony physically, but his entire friends and family had to stand by and watch it happen to him. A nightmare in every way possible, something we tend to forget can happen to any of these fighters on any given night.