UFC 261: A Return To What We Have Been Missing
The expectations were high leading up to last nights UFC 261, but on a night of high drama, the event delivered beyond any reasonable expectations.
The fans added plenty, an atmosphere that has been missing from all combat sports, but especially inside the UFC Octagon. Joe Rogan said: “it felt right” maybe, but is it the right time. It was refreshing in some ways, but in many more, uncomfortable and a feeling of too much too soon. We hold our breath.
The crowd had the likes of Jake Paul in attendance, Paul added pantomime if nothing else. The brutality of the main card a stark warning to the world he is now in and what will surely be heading his way once the public tire of his current product. Which it will.
The danger of combat sports highlighted brutally and cruelly in the opening two fights on the main card. The bravery of Jimmy Crute wanting to fight on when he couldn’t even stand shows what defines a fighter, what makes them different to you and me. The irony of Chris Weidman being stretchered out couldn’t be hidden. The leg snapped on impact, a repeat of another night, this time Weidman the victim, a career probably over, a symbolic sign perhaps to sign out. A shocking sight, even the winner sullen in demeanour, no celebration, his thoughts elsewhere.
The joy and tears of Rose Namajunas showed what that one head kick delivered means. The raw emotion of victory, a reluctant champion no more.
Valentina Shevchenko showed her dominance once more, another effortless win, her reign looks set to continue. With no immediate threat to her title on the horizon, a true rival she badly needs to elevate her further. A move up to see an old rival once more would benefit both parties.
Kamaru Usman, once the perceived boring one, now is anything but. One big right hand knocked Jorge Masvidal into acceptance, the challenger on the receiving end of a baptism, a minister no more, at least for now. A feud definitively ended, Usman will soon go over old ground once more, like Shevchenko, maybe a fighter too good to be truly appreciated.
The UFC can be the greatest show on earth when everything clicks, last night, inside the cage, everything clicked. It was a night where we were giving everything we had been missing for the past year or so, it hasn’t been the same, in Florida, we saw why.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Zuffa