A blockbuster welterweight championship rematch is now official.
Champion Kamaru Usman and challenger Jorge Masvidal both weighed in successfully for their title bout on Friday morning. Usman weighed 169.5 pounds and Masvidal hit the mark at 170.
Usman will defend his UFC welterweight title against Masvidal in Saturday’s UFC 261 Main Event in Jacksonville, Florida. The card will be the first the UFC has held with a full crowd since before the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. ESPN has Usman ranked 2nd in the world on its list of MMA fighters for pounds.
Usman (18-1) defeated Masvidal by unanimous decision at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi last July. But Masvidal got into that fight within just six days after Usman’s original opponent, Gilbert Burns, tested positive for coronavirus. Usman, 33, is looking for his fourth straight title defense and 14th consecutive UFC win.
If Usman, a Nigerian native who trains outside of Colorado, won on Saturday, he would be alone in holding second place in the longest running streak in UFC history. Usman is currently linked to Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jon Jones with 13 straight wins. Only Anderson Silva has more straight wins in UFC history (16).
Masvidal (35-14) is one of the most popular fighters on the UFC list. The Miami native had won three fights before falling to Usman last year. In 2019, Masvidal stopped Darren Till, Ben Askren and Nate Diaz within eight months to become one of the hottest MMA athletes in the world. Despite losing to Usman, he didn’t slow down that much. 36-year-old Masvidal has been a professional fighter for nearly 18 years but has only recently made his move.
There will be two more title fights at UFC 261 and all four contestants successfully gained weight on Friday.
In the co-main event, Zhang Weili will defend her women’s strawweight title against former champion Rose Namajunas. Zhang (21-1), the first Chinese-born UFC champion, weighed 114.5 pounds and has not lost since her pro debut in 2013. Namajunas (9-4) hit the same number and won four of their last five fights. ESPN has Zhang number 4 on its pound-for-pound list for women and namajunas number 5.
Both flyweight title contenders weighed 124.5 pounds. Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) is ESPN’s second biggest pound-for-pound fighter, while Jessica Andrade (21-8) is number 6.