Fight Facts: UFC 261

By: Jay Pettry
Apr 26, 2021

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Fight Facts is a breakdown of all of the interesting information and Octagon oddities on every card, with some puns, references and portmanteaus to keep things fun. These deep stat dives delve into the numbers, providing historical context and telling the stories behind those numbers.

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The Ultimate Fighting Championship blew the doors off with a championship tripleheader event that delivered and then some. UFC 261 brought with it a main card that bestowed fans with heaps of violence. This event featured a win streak fast approaching the longest ever, a blonde-haired 125-pound destroyer with seemingly no equal and an injury that brought back flashbacks for everyone watching.

Feel the Electricity: The UFC returned to an arena with full fan attendance for the first time since 2020 by staging the card at the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. This card also ended a record of 10 consecutive shows held in the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, a record for the most successive UFC events in one building.

A New Legacy on the Mic: Whether as the primary or secondary color commentator, UFC 261 marked the 50th event that former two-division champ Daniel Cormier has called. Fellow commentator Joe Rogan appeared for the 273rd time overall.

Banging for Your Buck: The five-fight main card totaled 20 minutes, 56 seconds of action after the dust settled. While not the shortest main card in UFC history – that distinction goes to UFC 29 in 2000, and UFC 91 in 2008 was also briefer – it was the most expensive per minute of fight time. The $70 card, costlier than the aforementioned UFCs 29 and 91, means that viewers spent about $3.34 for every minute of combat.

One After Another: UFC 261 held the first main card since UFC 189 in 2015 where all five fights ended by stoppage.

International Performance Anxiety: Four fighters from China competed at UFC 261, and all four lost. Weili Zhang and Na Liang were knocked out, while Zhu Rong and Qileng Aori dropped decisions.

Titletown U.S.A.: UFC 261 is the eighth event in organizational history to put three titles on the line throughout the course of the night. It joins a list that includes UFCs 33, 205, 214, 217, 245, 251 and 259. This card and UFC 217 are the only two in which none of the championship affairs went the distance.

Tapping into That Power: Three of the last nine UFC headliners have ended by one-punch knockout, with Derrick Lewis, Francis Ngannou and now Kamaru Usman scorching their opponents. Before Lewis’ uppercut of Curtis Blaydes, the last one-punch knockout in a UFC main event came when Jan Blachowicz smashed Corey Anderson in February 2020.

Kamaru St. Usman: Usman has now won 14 straight in the Octagon, snapping a six-way tie with Jon Jones, Demetrious Johnson, Georges St. Pierre, Max Holloway and Khabib Nurmagomedov to move into sole possession of the second-longest win streak in company history. Only Anderson Silva (16) has won more UFC bouts in a row.

The Welterweight Nightmare: “The Nigerian Nightmare” became the 11th man in UFC history to defend his throne four times in a row. He is the first to pull this off since Demetrious Johnson’s 11-defense reign from 2013 to 2017.

Ramping Things Up: The champ began his UFC run with a “Performance of the Night”-winning submission of Hayder Hassan, and subsequently went on a bonus drought despite picking up wins. Three of the last four victories for Usman have resulted in $50k checks for him.

Early Stoppage or Not, It’s a Knockout: The knockout was not the first time Masvidal had been stopped with strikes in his career, as Rodrigo Damm leveled him with one punch at Sengoku – Third Battle in 2008.

A Clean Decade: The durable Masvidal was finished for the first time since Toby Imada put him to sleep with an inverted triangle choke at Bellator 5 in May 2009. At that time, 21 of the other 25 competitors on the card including his opponent had not yet made their professional debuts.

Rose Two-Times: Rose Namajunas is the first female UFC fighter to win her belt back after losing it, and thus is the first two-time champ of a division in UFC history. Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm and Joanna Jedrzejczyk all fell short in their past efforts to recapture their gold.

Cold as Ice: “Thug Rose” only needed 78 seconds to ice Weili Zhang, and in the process, notched the third-quickest knockout in UFC strawweight history. Zhang’s 42-second drubbing of Andrade and Poliana Botelho’s 33-second finish of Syuri Kondo are the only ones to have come quicker.

She’s the Best: Namajunas has finished five foes as a strawweight, setting the record for the most in divisional history. In doing so, she breaks a tie with fellow UFC 261 competitor Jessica Andrade.

Hype or Die: Namajunas recorded the second head kick knockout in women’s strawweight history inside the Octagon. The first came from former foe Paige VanZant, who booted Bec Rawlings in the head at UFC on Fox 21 in 2016.

Otherworldly Flexibility: Across all female fighters in UFC history, Namajunas earned just the seventh head kick knockout. A combined seven post-fight bonuses have been awarded to those finishes, including “Performance of the Night” honors for the new champ.

Golden Gertrude: Namajunas picked up her sixth post-fight bonus by earning POTN for knocking Zhang out. In UFC women’s strawweight history, only Andrade has taken home more post-fight bonus awards, with seven.

1A and 1B With Nunes: Valentina Shevchenko extended her lead as the winningest women’s flyweight in company history, scoring her seventh win in the division by stoppage Andrade with elbow strikes.

Give Her Tong Po: Shevchenko has now amassed five consecutive title defenses in the flyweight division. Before her, there had only been 10 fighters, male or female, to achieve such a distinction.

Bullet in the Head: Her stoppage of Andrade put “Bullet” one shy of the lead for most finishes in flyweight history. Gillian Robertson have has beaten five foes inside the distance at 125 pounds.

Happy Valentina’s Day: Three of Shevchenko’s four stoppages have come by strikes, giving her the record for the most in UFC women’s flyweight history. Aside from Shevchenko, only Maycee Barber and Shana Dobson have secured more than one in the division’s brief tenure.

Not Karma: Chris Weidman’s leg broke on his very first strike thrown at Uriah Hall, in an injury reminiscent of when Anderson Silva broke his own leg kicking Weidman. “The All-American” is now the second fighter in UFC history to win and lose a bout due to injury; Silva was the first.

Hall of Flame: In that unusual manner, Hall tied his career record for his lengthiest win streak at four straight. Hall began his career by winning four bouts, and then lost to Weidman.

One Way to Do It: The knockout for Hall tied him with Silva for the most in UFC middleweight history. One of those eight came over Silva.

Had the Heart of a Lion as Well as His Own: Anthony Smith’s finish rate is now a sky-high 91 percent across his 35 career wins, following a doctor stoppage technical knockout of Jimmy Crute. “Lionheart” has stopped his adversary in each of his last nine victories.

How Rude: An unorthodox one-armed rear-naked choke forced Alex Oliveira to tap out, awarding Jamaica’s Randy Brown the victory. “Rude Boy” now posts a finish rate of 85 percent, with stoppages in five of his last six wins.

Ankle Crankin’: Brendan Allen pulled off a rare ankle lock submission to force Karl Roberson to tap out with five second left in Round 1. He is the ninth fighter in company history to land a submission on the ankle like this, and the second since 2007 to hit one. Thiago Moises submitted Michael Johnson in 2020 with a similar maneuver.

Boss Brawling: The “Fight of the Night”-winning battle between Jeff Molina and Qileng Aori resulted in a record number of significant strikes landed by Molina (189) in the flyweight division. “El Jefe” obliterated the old record of 137 set by Deiveson Figueiredo against Brandon Moreno in December.

By the Power of Greyskull: Ariane Carnelossi pounded out Liang in the second round, earning her 10th career finish. “Sorriso” advanced her finish rate to 77 percent in her first UFC victory.

Never Say Never Again: Coming into UFC 261, Zhang had never been finished (22 fights), Crute had never been knocked out (13 fights) and Rong had never lost on the scorecards (20 fights).

Biggie Wins: Both Dwight Grant and Molina walked out to tracks involving Notorious B.I.G. Grant selected “Victory” by Puff Daddy featuring Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes, while Molina opted for “Spit Your Game.” They each won their respective bouts on the scorecards.

Iron Man Lives Again: Pat Sabatini is the first fighter since Gleison Tibau’s run that ended in 2018 to walk out to “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath. Sabatini prevailed in his UFC debut, beating Tristan Connelly by decision.

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