If the build-up to UFC 261 was hyped up, the night itself exceeded all expectations. In a stunning main event in Florida, Kamaru Usman delivered a brutal second round knockout to stop Jorge Masvidal and retain his undisputed welterweight title. It was the first time in 50 professional fights that the American has been knocked out, as Usman connected with a massive right hand to send him crashing to the floor.
"I told everybody, I'm still getting better. The sky's the limit for me as long as I'm doing this," Usman said having extended his unbeaten run to 18 fights, including 14 straight victories in the UFC.
"I know with my fundamentals, I am the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet right now."
15,000 fans were in attendance which gave us a return to sporting normality, but this was nothing like the fight between these two last July. That day at UFC 251, over five gruelling rounds, Usman totally dominated ‘Gamebred’ but given Masvidal only had six days’ notice and had to cut 20lbs, many expected the American to give a better account of himself this time around - having had a full training camp under his belt.
In the build up, Usman promised an even more comprehensive victory and as it panned out, the Nigerian was able to back up his talk with a scintillating performance and defend his title for the fourth time.
There was little to separate the two in round one as both men tried to gain the upper hand without going to the floor, but Usman, with only one defeat on his record, did score an impressive takedown halfway through the opening round. Masvidal, who was expecting to wrestle more across five rounds, managed to recover from that initial takedown to make it to round two, but the fight would go no further.
Usman teed up a shot and then landed a straight right hand that connected perfectly with Masvidal’s jaw. The blend of timing and power in that shot left the 36-year-old with absolutely no chance of recovery as the fight was instantly waved off.
Masvidal showed both his experience and humility in defeat, despite being shocked having been knocked out for the very first time. "First time in my career, and it's in front of all my people, my family and my friends, so it hurts," he said.
"I've never been knocked out in 50 pro fights. Usman showed me something that he didn't show in the first fight. I didn't feel his power, and that's what happens when you get overconfident. I thought we were going to wrestle more.
"All the props to him in the world. He caught me by surprise. He's got my number. There's nothing I can say. He won this fair and square. God bless him."
Elsewhere on the night Rose Namajunas reclaimed the UFC women's strawweight title with a rapid first-round knockout of Chinese champion Zhang Weili, which was set up by a remarkable high kick to the head. Meanwhile Valentina Shevchenko continued her complete dominance of the 125lb division with a second-round stoppage of former strawweight champion Jessica Andrade.