UFC 261: DAZN staff predictions for Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal 2; Zhang Weili vs. Rose ...

UFC 261 delivers a total of three intriguing championship fights on a bumper night of mixed martial arts.

We asked three of the DAZN News team to tell us what they think will happen on fight night, and here's what they had to say.

Kamaru Usman (c) vs. Jorge Masvidal 2 for Usman's Welterweight title

Steven Muehlhausen:  Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal is the ultimate grudge match. Each guy disdains one another to the fullest. Usman made it look easy the first time around at UFC 251, winning an easy decision. Yes, Masvidal has had a full training camp and didn’t have to shed 20 pounds in five days. Naturally, he will put on a better performance. But right now, Usman is another level. He’s added the missing piece to his game, striking. He’s shown a stiff jab which allowed to use his right hand which put away Colby Covington and Gilbert Burns. If Masvidal can consistently stuff the takedown, he’s got a shot. Usman’s all-around game will be too much for “Gamebred” to overcome.

Prediction: Kamaru Usman by unanimous decision

Liam Happe : The whole 'no excuses' tagline on this main event is a cool one. It really amps up the spotlight (and the pressure) on both, ensuring the winner really comes through as one of today's elite. However while I doubt the fight will go hold-for-hold like it did last summer, I foresee the same end result.

Prediction: Kamaru Usman by unanimous decision

Mark Lelinwalla: I see Usman weathering an early storm by Masvidal, before getting in enough striking and wrestling to win on judges' cards.

Prediction: "And still" just as Usman predicted, but by unanimous decision, not knockout.

Zhang Weili (c) vs. Rose Namajunas for Weili's Women's Strawweight title

SM:  On paper, this is the most competitive title fight at UFC 261. Both have superb striking and both are great on the ground. This is going to be war of attrition like Weili’s last fight with Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 that ended up being one of the best fights of 2020. I think Weili packs a little more punch and those will take their toll on the former champion as the fight wears on.

Prediction: Zhang Weili via fifth-round TKO

LH: I really, really like Rose Namajunas. I was cageside in November 2017 at Madison Square Garden when she stunned 'Joanna Champion' and have had a particular soft spot for her whenever she's on a card ever since that night. However as much as my personal preferences would love to see her pull this off, I can see the champion retaining at the end of a full-length classic.

Prediction: Zhang Weili via split decision

ML: As classic as her war with Joanna Jędrzejczyk was, this clash with Namajunas will prove to be amazing on its own. In the end, the champ will eke out another victory due to landing the more significant strikes.

Prediction: Zhang Weili via split decision.

Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Jéssica Andrade for Shevchenko's Women's Flyweight title

SM : If it wasn’t for the amazing run of Amanda Nunes, we’d be talking about Shevchenko as the top female competitor in the world. Shevchenko showed the whole toolbox on her last outing against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255. It’s hard to see where Andrade can win. Her all around game isn’t as crisp as Shevchenko. Until someone can prove they can compete at her level for more than a short spurt, you ride with the champion.

Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko via second-round knockout

LH : I can't look past Shevchenko here, but I suspect it will take her some time to create the right opening to get the finish. I see this being the slow-burner of the three title fights before the champ turns her play in the second half of the encounter to retain.

Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko via fourth-round submission

ML: It's hard to bet against Shevchenko. She's just that damn good. She'll solve every complexity that Andrade presents here, too.

Prediction: Valentino Shevchenko by third-round submission (rear-naked choke).

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