5 biggest takeaways from UFC 261: Jorge Masvidal’s future, Chris Weidman’s leg break, more

·6 min read

What mattered most at UFC 261 at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.? Here are a few post-fight musings …

1. Put respect on Kamaru Usman's name

It'll be interesting to see what the haters have to say about Kamaru Usman now. When it comes to his fighting style and in-cage body of work, there's about nothing left to be said. Just like any person on earth, Usman may have personality traits that don't jibe with everyone's interests. That's fine, and human nature. But when it comes to his skill set for this sport, there aren't many holes left to be poked following his crushing knockout of Jorge Masvidal to defend his UFC welterweight title for the fourth time. For all the backlash got for his first encounter with Masvidal at UFC 251 in July, he showed what he really do in a situation where both men are fully prepared for each other. He put on crazy pressure in the first round and into the second, then caught "Gamebred" with a hot shot and became the first since 2008 to stop Masvidal with trikes. Usman's now won 14 consecutive UFC fights, which is just two shy of matching Anderson Silva's all-time record of 16. At this rate Usman might match that record and then some. It seems that just now Usman is turning a corner into his best self. He's finishing fights, producing more action and still getting his hand raised. That's a scry though for anyone at 170 pounds who has to deal with him going forwards. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTwjCyZQ6oI

2. What does Jorge Masvidal do now?

Respectfully to Jorge Masvidal, that was the most disastrous outcome possible for him in a must-win second UFC title shot. We all know the story. Masvidal took the first fight with Usman on six days' notice, cut more than 20 pounds, then traveled across the globe to lose a unanimous decision. Sure, it's hard to blame him for losing that one. But in this spot, he needed to come through. It was Masvidal's 50th professional fight, took place in his home state, and he talked a whole mess of sh*t in the days and weeks leading up. Some of that trash talk included him saying Usman was the softest puncher he'd ever competed against. Well ... welp. He got knocked out by that soft puncher, and now it's safe to assuming Masvidal probably doesn't have any shot at winning a real UFC title. He's got that "BMF" belt still, for whatever that's worth (and it doesn't seem like much at this rate). However, that doesn't mean Masvidal is void of any value going forward. He's put himself in position over the past few years to be part of some big fights. Colby Covington, Leon Edwards, Nate Diaz or Nick Diaz are just a few of the matchups he could find himself in as his career winds down. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTwjCyZQ6oI

3. Thug Rose! Thug Rose!

It definitely felt prior to the event that of all three title-fight challengers, Rose Namajunas had the best shot to unseat a champion in her strawweight title bout with Zhang Weili. It came to reality, and with little time wasted as Namajunas stunned Zhang with a head kick finish just 78 seconds into the co-main event matchup. It was a historic moment for women's MMA, because Namajunas became the first two-time titleholder. Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm and Joanna Jedrzejczyk has previously failed to win back a title after losing it, but Namajunas set herself apart from the pack. There's no doubt Namajunas' political statements about Zhang and her native China put a bit of a dark cloud over this fight. The performance and subsequent post-fight apology served as a bit of damage control, but it's hard to put the toothpaste back in the tube on such a sensitive subject matter. If we can peel that back for a second, though, there's no denying Namajunas is as talented as it gets. She's wonderfully dynamite, has a violent side and is still young enough that it feels like she still hasn't reached her full potential. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQQpK25kodU

4. Thoughts out to Chris Weidman

Seen a lot of frightening moments from cageside over the years, but [autotag]Chris Weidman[/autotag]'s leg break might take the cake in terms of pure shock factor. That was really, really hard to watch. Not only for the visual of his leg folding in half like a broken twig after Uriah Hall checked his low kick just seconds into their fight, but because of who it happened too, as well. That type of leg break has only happened three times in UFC history, and two of them have involved Weidman. I mean ... seriously? What are the chances? We all remember the bout against Anderson Silva, then this happens nearly eight years later. Just insane. The results haven't been the most kind to Weidman over the past several years. However, he's genuinely one of the nicest people in the sport. He's always generous with his time, is in a positive spirit and is driven to be success. Even if he was none of those things, he still wouldn't deserve what happened. It's hard to image him coming back from this given the stage in her career, and that's pretty heartbreaking. Fighting seems like a distant goal at this point regardless. I just hope Weidman can make a full recovery so he can walk, run and play with his children to some degree of normalcy. Our thoughts are with you, Chris. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xooo70wWA9g

5. The crowd goes wild

What an experience to be back cageside at a UFC event with a full crowd in attendance. Regardless of the circumstances around it, and anyone's thoughts or feelings about it being carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic, the promotion was going forward with it no matter what. As a reporter, it felt necessary to be there to document this slice of history. Multiple COVID-19 tests during fight ensured some feeling of safety, but there was definitely some paranoia in the air as you walked through the arena and saw maybe 25 percent of the crowd wearing a mask, which was options. The moments where the crowd went utterly insane, from the first exchange of the first fight of the night all the way to the main event, helped briefly put that to the back of mind, though. There was a rare energy in the air that hasn't been felt in a very, very long time. Whether there ends up being negative consequences to this event remains to be seen. Perhaps it ends up being a super-spreader. Perhaps not. Those few hours offered a slice of "normal" life, though, and it was nice. Just hope it doesn't come at a cost. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m12i1XyS5Go