Kamaru Usman (left) of Nigeria fights Jorge Masvidal of the United States. (Picture by Alex Menendez/Getty Photos)
The UFC welcomed abet American fans for their first are dwelling match in over a year on Saturday evening and three of its ideal fighters – Kamaru Usman, Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shevchenko – rose to the occasion with ravishing knockouts at UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Nigerian-American welterweight champion Usman knocked American challenger Jorge Masvidal out chilly with a thunderous straight loyal to the chin at 1.02 of the 2nd round within the predominant match and warned these gathered – and other fighters – “I am tranquil bettering.”
“Jacksonville, Florida. You wished violence? You are welcome,” Usman stated afterwards as he moved his unbeaten flee to 18 fights.
“I in actual fact handy all people… I am pound for pound basically the most engrossing fighter on this planet loyal now.”
The pair had met abet in July closing year with the 33-year-historical Usman overpowering his 36-year-historical opponent within the clinch and on the bottom and pounding away at will across five rounds.
This time he got straight to the purpose with a punch that saw Masvidal crumpled to a knockout for the first time in a profession that has now taken in 50 fights.
Ahead of that 2nd of magic, though, the evening had been all about Namajunas.
The 28-year-historical American strawweight challenger seized abet the title with an ravishing head-kick knockout of Zhang Weili with staunch 1 minute and 18 seconds gone of the first round, bringing to an discontinue to the Chinese language fighter’s 21-fight successful traipse in a flash of pure, poised skill.
“I am basically the most engrossing,” Namajunas stated within the midst of the cage afterwards.
“I did it as soon as more. I didn’t search for her transfer and I wasn’t sure if she may come abet from that. So staunch about a hammer fists and it used to be out.”
Namajunas had won the strawweight crown in 2017 but had misplaced it in 2019 and struggled with her inner demons, and motivation. On Sunday, she used to be at her shining easiest, even when the fight easiest lasted staunch over a minute.
Namajunas used to be a blur of circulate and had the 30-year-historical Zhang attempting for a low kick when she went excessive. And it used to be in every single set up.
The principle of the three title fights on the cardboard saw Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan use her superior energy and a nine centimetre height advantage to overpower Brazilian challenger Jessica Andrade.
There were five takedowns by the champion within the first round, and one early within the 2nd that gave her top set up, and she or he pounded away to take the TKO with 3.12 on the clock.
That made it seven straight wins for a 33 year historical fighter in Shevchenko who by some ability tranquil appears to be like to be bettering and, look after Usman and Namajunas, appears to be like to be like destined for the UFC Corridor of Fame.
“I pick to shock of us,” she stated afterwards, within the understatement of the evening.
Saturday’s fight card for the length of the VyStar Veterans Memorial Enviornment welcomed American fans to a are dwelling UFC match for the first time since Las Vegas closing March.
Restrictions on public gatherings resulting from the area pandemic had compelled the UFC to both host fan-free occasions within the US, or to take up location interior a restricted “sports hub” in Abu Dhabi.
There were an estimated 15 000 of us gathered Saturday despite the US’ persisted struggles with Covid-19. Local officers had within the hours before the match reported 7 411 current conditions of the coronavirus on Saturday, and 53 deaths.
There had been a whiff of controversy within the lead as much as the cardboard when Namajunas referenced the American Chilly Struggle anti-communist slogan of “higher tiresome than red” when describing how she used to be motivating herself before facing the Chinese language champion.
Zhang brushed off the conception that she is going to private taken the words to coronary heart – or had even taken them severely – and Namajunas attempted to clear the topic up rapidly after victory.
“The total stuff within the media used to be now not my intent, to ever personally assault her. Or now not it is staunch my historical previous and my previous and that’s the reason it,” stated Namajunas, whose fogeys had escaped to the US from Soviet-generation Lithuania.
“I look in spite of every a part of us, all cultures and all people within the area.”