Who Wins the Title Fights at UFC 261?
After Francis Ngannou’s impressive title win against Stipe Miocic at UFC 260, attention now turns to the three title fights at UFC 261 on April 24th. Valentina Shevchenko defends her Flyweight crown against Jessica Andrade, Zhang Weili and Rose Namajunas finally meet in the women’s Strawweight division, and Jorge Masvidal gets a second chance at glory in the Welterweight division against Kamaru Usman. But who comes out on top in each fight?
Former strawweight champion Andrade is confident she can beat Shevchenko and hand her a first defeat since 2017.
“I’ve always said Valentina is the most frightening woman in this sport,” said Andrade in a recent interview with Sherdog. “Besides strong, fast and sharp, she is good everywhere, but MMA is not an exact science. In our sport, knockout power and a good hand in the right place can surprise all the odds.”
“Shevchenko’s weak points are exactly my strong points. She likes to counter, control the distance and keep the fight standing. I like to attack, throw and ground-and-pound. And certainly, the smaller Octagon [at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas] will be better for me in that fight.”
The Brazilian is understandably the underdog, but it’s a fight she’s relishing, and her coach is confident she can take the belt home. The odds, however, suggest that Shevchenko may have an easy night. When you compare the FanDuel vs DraftKings sportsbook, the champion from Kyrgyzstan is priced up at odds of -350 and -375 respectively. Andrade is +275 with FanDuel and +285 with DraftKings.
They’re both very competitive with their odds, with one sportsbook better priced on some fights than the other. It’s certainly worth comparing the two for any fight you’re interested in betting on to see which one offers the best price.
UFC pundits have taken to Twitter to say that the fight will be very close, but nobody really knows how it’s going to play out. Shevchenko is very much the woman to beat, but if anyone can take that belt away from her, it could well be Andrade, who’s coming into the fight off the back of an impressive TKO victory against Katlyn Chookagian.
The co-main is another mouth-watering women’s matchup. Zhang Weili fully expects to retain her belt and put on a performance that will cement her place as one of the best female fighters ever seen in the UFC. She’s endured a tough 2020 like many but cannot wait to get back into the octagon to prove the doubters wrong, especially boxing legend Mike Tyson, who suggested recently that Rose Namajunas wins easily.
“Tyson has no right to comment because he knows nothing about MMA. He knows nothing about me,” Zhang said speaking to CGTN. “I will not be affected, but do my best instead, and I suggest Tyson try MMA (mixed martial arts) himself.”
Although Zhang dismissed Tyson’s comments, she knows full well what she’s up against at the end of April and will be taking Rose very seriously.
“She has great footwork and boxing skills. I have prepared specifically for her skill set. I will check my arsenal and pick the suitable weapon to play against her. I know that anything could happen,” Zhang said.
The main event is the rematch between Usman and Masvidal. The champ blew Masvidal away in their first fight at UFC 251, controlling every aspect of the fight for five rounds to grab a unanimous decision victory. However, Masvidal had the excuse that he took the fight on six days’ notice. Now he’s had a full training camp, so how will this one play out?
One of Masvidal’s former opponents, Ben Askren, thinks Usman will win it easily, but Gamebred doesn’t even acknowledge his comments:
“The individual I buried does not represent MMA”, he said in a recent rant on Twitter. Askren’s fight with YouTuber Jack Paul is a week before UFC 261, so fans can expect Masvidal to take more shots at Funky between now and then, especially if he ends up losing.
For Masvidal, it’s complete focus on Usman and complete focus on snatching that belt away from the Nigerian Nightmare. If Street Jesus can pull it off, it would be the icing on the cake after 18 years of hard work since his very first pro-MMA fight way back in May 2003. Stephen Thompson is leaning towards Masvidal too, like many others.
We’re going with Shevchenko, Zhang, and Masvidal. Who you got? Let us know.