UFC 261 Returns to Florida with Usman vs Masvidal 2 in Front of a Full Crowd

UFC 261 - Jorge
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JULY 12: (L-R) Opponents Kamaru Usman of Nigeria and Jorge Masvidal face off prior to their UFC welterweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

UFC 261 will return to Florida in front of a full crowd headlined by a rematch between UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal, per UFC president Dana White.

White announced the event will be held in the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida which was the first location UFC held an event after the promotion returned from a lengthy hiatus due to the pandemic last year. According to White, UFC 261 will be open to a capacity of 15,000 fans on April 24th.

The card will feature three title fights. In the main event, Usman (18-1) will be facing Masvidal (35-14) in a highly anticipated rematch. The co-main will see Valentina Shevchenko (20-3) defend her flyweight belt against the powerhouse challenger Jessica Andrade (21-8). The third title fight will feature the return of China’s strawweight champion Zhang Weili against former champion Rose Namajunas.

“I have been waiting a year for this day to tell you we are back,” White said in a Twitter video. “UFC 261 on April 24 will be in Jacksonville, Fla., with a full house of fans…”

This will be the first time UFC returns with a full capacity crowd since UFC 248 back in March 2020. After the pandemic shut down the sporting world, the UFC was the first major sports league to return with no crowd at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, because Florida was one of the only few states at the time to allow UFC to host an event with restrictive protocols.

White has always said that when made possible, the UFC was going to return with full fan capacity. It is unclear at this time what type of protocols will be put in place but we can be assured that the UFC will be at its best when it comes to restrictions, testing, anything to do with hosting a safe event after almost a year of COVID-era UFC events. With a massive crowd, it is going to be interesting to see how the UFC deals with that.

The UFC 261 lineup currently includes:

  • Champ Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal – for welterweight title
  • Champ Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas – for women’s strawweight title
  • Champ Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade – for women’s flyweight title
  • Uriah Hall vs. Chris Weidman
  • Jimmy Crute vs. Anthony Smith
  • Danaa Batgerel vs. Kevin Natividad
  • Brendan Allen vs. Karl Roberson
  • Qileng Aori vs. Jeffrey Molina
  • Johnny Munoz vs. Mark Striegl

 

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