The UFC returns for their first event with live fans in over 13 months at Saturday's UFC 261 from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
They are giving the soldout crowd their monies worth as the card features three championship fights, headlined by rivals Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal, meeting once again for Usman's welterweight championship.
Also on the card, Valentina Shevchenko puts her women's flyweight title on the line against former women's strawweight titlist Jessica Andrade, and Zhang Weili defends the women's strawweight belt versus former 115-pound titleholder Rose Namajunas.
FIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT WEEEEEEEEK!!!! I can’t wait for this Saturday Night!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/HJH2TeAnNz— danawhite (@danawhite) April 19, 2021
It appeared a rematch wasn't going to be in the cards as Usman had stopped Burns in the third round at UFC 258 on Feb. 13 and Masvidal looked to be heading towards a fight with Colby Covington. Everything changed when Usman called out Masvidal to run it back. Masvidal wanted it and, most importantly, UFC president Dana White. If the UFC was going to fans return at total capacity, White wanted to give them their bang for the buck. While Masvidal feels Usman only wanted to face him because he's perhaps the biggest draw outside of Conor McGregor since UFC 251 did a reported 1.3 million pay-per-view buys, the champion doesn't fully agree with that sentiment.
"There's truth, and there's not truth in that," Usman told ESPN recently. "You can't say you are the star, and that's who I want to be. That's wrong because I have what everyone in the world wants, so you can't say that. Of course, does he bring more eyes right now? Absolutely. I'm a realist. I've always been a realist. Absolutely he brings more eyes right now. If I look at all the pools of guys I've been through all of them, now I'm just lapping them all. If we're running a race right now, I'm lapping everybody right now. He's the first guy, so he's dead last right now, the first guy I'm about to lap. I'm lapping him.
"So yeah, does he bring a little bit more eyes? Absolutely. I don't take that away from him. I'm proud of everything he has done, absolutely proud of him. Respect in that aspect but let's be honest, I have what everyone wants. It's green panty night when you fight me. He's not getting the pay-per-views and stuff like that on his own. He has to fight me."
For Masvidal, he feels that since he'll have the necessary time to train and cut weight properly, he will win UFC gold for the first time and go right into a trilogy clash with Usman.
"When I win the rematch, we definitely will go for the trilogy," Masvidal said in a recent Q&A for ESPN+ subscribers. "I will not go down in history 1-1 with this individual. It's just not going to happen.
"I'm not gonna cut 20 pounds of weight—mainly water—in six days [this time]," Masvidal said about the rematch. "Right now, I'm eight, nine pounds before I hit the mark of 170, so it's a different cut altogether. That will be the determining factor, I think."
UFC 261 is the most loaded for the company to date in 2021. Can Usman prove the first time around was no fluke? Or does Masvidal show that it was?
Here is everything you need to know about UFC 261: Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 2.
UFC 261 START TIME
- Date: Saturday, April 24
- Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
- Main event: 12:15 a.m. ET
UFC 261: Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 2 takes place on Saturday with the early prelims kicking the event off at 6:00 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view main card begins at 10 p.m. ET. Usman and Masvidal should enter the Octagon at around 12:15 a.m. ET, depending on the length of the undercard bouts.
UFC 261 TV CHANNEL, LIVE STREAM
- U.S .: ESPN, ESPN+
In the United States, the PPV price for UFC 261 for current ESPN+ subscribers is $69.99. New subscribers have the option of bundling an annual ESPN+ subscription and the fight for $89.98. The first half of the preliminary card can be seen on ESPN+ at 6:00 p.m. ET before switching over to ESPN at 8 p.m. ET.
In Canada, the prelims (6:00 p.m. ET) are on TSN5 and the main card is available on PPV.
In the U.K., UFC 260 can be seen live BT Sport 1 (prelims at 11:00 p.m. GMT and main card at 3 a.m. on Sunday).
In Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain, the UFC 260 main card (4 a.m. CET Sunday) is available on DAZN, the global sports streaming service.
More details about how to watch in other countries can be found at UFC.com.
WHERE IS UFC 261?
The card will be held at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. This will be the first UFC event in the United States since UFC 248 in March 2020 that a full capacity will be inside a facility. Usman and Masvidal compete at the venue for the first time.
UFC 261 FIGHT ODDS
Bet MGM (as of April 19) has installed Usman as the whopping favorite at -400 to easily win the rematch. Placing a bet on Usman means you'd need to bet $400 to win $100. Meanwhile, Masvidal is at +310 meaning if you bet $100, you'd net $310.
KAMARU USMAN RECORD AND BIO
- Nationality: Nigerian
- Born: May 11, 1987
- Height: 6-0
- Reach: 76 inches
- Total fights: 19
- Record: 18-1
Jorge Masvidal RECORD, AND BIO
Born: Nov. 12, 1984
Total fights: 49
UFC 261 FIGHT CARD
- Kamaru Usman (c) vs. Jorge Masvidal 2 for Usman's Welterweight title
- Zhang Weili (c) vs. Rose Namajunas for Weili's Women's Strawweight title
- Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Jéssica Andrade for Shevchenko's Women's Flyweight title
- Uriah Hall vs. Chris Weidman 2; Middleweight
- Anthony Smith vs. Jimmy Crute; Light Heavyweight
- Alex Oliveira vs. Randy Brown; Welterweight
- Dwight Grant vs. Stefan Sekulić; Welterweight
- Karl Roberson vs. Brendan Allen; Middleweight
- Patrick Sabatini vs. Tristan Connelly; Featherweight
- Danaa Batgerel vs. Kevin Natividad; Bantamweight
- Kazula Vargas vs. Rong Zhu; Lightweight
- Qileng Aori vs. Jeffrey Molina; Flyweight
- Na Liang vs. Ariane Carnelossi; Women’s Strawweight