UFC welcomes back fans at full capacity when it returns to VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. on April 24 with a stacked card headlined by three championship bouts. The main event will see a thrilling welterweight championship rematch when Kamaru Usman defends against No. 4 ranked contender Jorge Masvidal. Women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko goes for her fifth consecutive title defense against No. 1 ranked contender Jessica Andrade. In a highly anticipated women’s strawweight championship bout, Zhang Weili faces former champion and No. 1 ranked contender Rose Namajunas.
UFC 261: USMAN vs. MASVIDAL 2 will take place Saturday, April 24 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. Early prelims will stream on ESPN+ in English and Spanish beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT along with UFC Fight Pass, with ESPN2 joining programming in progress at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. The prelims will continue on ESPN+ and simulcast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and the ESPN+ Pay-Per-View main card will kick off at 10 p.m. ET/7p.m. PT.
No. 3 ranked men’s pound-for-pound fighter Usman (18-1, fighting out of Boca Raton, Fla. by way of Auchi, Nigeria) kicked off his 2021 campaign with an impressive TKO win over former teammate Gilbert Burns in February. On top of besting Masvidal in their first encounter last July, Usman has also delivered sensational victories against Colby Covington, Tyron Woodley and Rafael Dos Anjos. Usman now has his sights set on securing his fourth title defense by proving his first win over Masvidal was no fluke.
Masvidal (35-14, fighting out of Miami, Fla.) looks to make good on his second 170-pound title opportunity by delivering another highlight-reel finish. Owner of the fastest KO in UFC history at six seconds over Ben Askren in 2019, he has also delivered spectacular stoppage wins against Nate Diaz, Donald Cerrone and Darren Till. Masvidal now aims to even the score with Usman and capture the UFC welterweight championship.
No. 2 women’s pound-for-pound fighter Shevchenko (20-3, fighting out of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) is gunning to continue her dominant title reign against one of her toughest tests to date. Undefeated since moving to flyweight in 2018, she holds memorable stoppage victories against Katlyn Chookagian, Jessica Eye and Priscila Cachoeira. Shevchenko now hopes to add another former UFC champion to her resume and prove she is undoubtably the top women’s flyweight in the world.
Former strawweight champion and No. 5 women’s pound-for-pound fighter Andrade (21-8, fighting out of Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) immediately made an impact upon moving to the flyweight division by delivering a vicious TKO win over top contender Katlyn Chookagian in October. She has also earned exciting victories against Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Tecia Torres and Claudia Gadelha. Andrade now vies to become only the second female fighter in UFC history to win titles in two separate divisions.
This bout will mark No. 3 women’s pound-for-pound fighter Zhang’s (21-1, fighting out of Beijing, China) first appearance since her 2020 Fight of the Year win over Joanna Jedrzejczyk one year ago. Currently riding a 21-fight win streak, she has also secured notable victories against Tecia Torres, Jessica Aguilar and Danielle Taylor since joining the UFC roster in 2018. Zhang now looks to take out another high-profile former titleholder to continue her run at the top of the strawweight division.
No. 4 women’s pound-for-pound fighter Namajunas (10-4, fighting out of Denver, Colo.) is gunning to become the first ever two-time champion in UFC strawweight history. Originally featured as a cast member on season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, Namajunas has delivered impressive wins over Joanna Jedrzejczyk (twice), Michelle Waterson and Paige VanZant. Namajunas now aims to become the first fighter to defeat Zhang in almost eight years to reclaim the 115-pound belt.
- Main Card: 10pm ET / 7pm PT
- Prelims: 8pm ET / 5pm PT
- Early Prelims: 5:30pm ET / 2:30pm PT