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Usman beats Masvidal for 18th straight as UFC finds normalcy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) – UFC 261 returned a sense of normalcy to the sports world Saturday with a packed house, a raucous crowd, and another victory for Kamaru Usman. Usman extended his winning streak to 18 straight by knocking out Jorge Masvidal with a right punch to the jaw early in the second round and retaining his welterweight belt. Usman’s knockout victory was his third in his last four fights, showcasing his impressive versatility and ability to adjust tactics during bouts. The former NCAA Division II wrestler had only one knockout victory in his first 10 UFC fights before stopping Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns, and Masvidal with punches in the past 18 months.

“Jacksonville, Florida, you said you wanted violence. You’re welcome,” Usman said.

This one was a rematch from their short-notice fight in July. The 33-year-old Usman beat Masvidal at Fight Island, winning a unanimous decision at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi. Usman (19-1) thanked Masvidal (35-15) for scaring and pushing him, saying it’s been a long since he felt nervous.

Masvidal stepped in on six days’ notice, flying halfway around the world to fill in for No. 1 title contender Gilbert Burns after Burns tested positive for COVID-19. Masvidal held his own and went five rounds against the champ, whose strategy included stomping on Masvidal’s feet every time they were locked up.


Some thought Masvidal would have a better chance with a full training session. Not really.

Still, Masvidal had the crowd behind him. They cheered wildly for the 36-year-old Miami native, breaking into “Ole, Ole, Ole” and “Let’s go Jorge” chants, and booed Usman whenever possible.

event, touted as the first full-capacity sporting event held indoors in more than a year, drew a star-studded crowd. There was no social distancing inside the 15,000-plus-seat arena and few masks in any direction. It was a clear sign that at least some fans are ready to return to normal after more than a year of dealing with COVID-19 changes to their routines.

“I’ve pictured this moment a million times over, so it was everything I expected it to be,” said Jeff Molina, who beat Qileng Aori in an undercard bout. “Having fans back is awesome. … I stepped in there, turned and looked at the crowd, raised my hand, and caught some good energy and vibes from the crowd.”

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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