(Reuters) – Kamaru Usman knocked Jorge Masvidal out cold to retain his UFC welterweight belt while Rose Namajunas pulled off a stunning first-round head kick KO to dethrone strawweight champ Zhang Weili at UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday.
In the third title fight on the bill, women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko dominated Jessica Andrade as she coasted to a second-round technical knockout victory to retain her crown.
Famed for his powerful wrestling, 33-year old Usman came into the main event on Masvidal’s home turf on a 17-fight winning streak, and he won the first round comfortably before bringing the fight to a sudden halt in the second.
Usman uncorked a thunderous right hand a minute into the second frame to deck Masvidal, who looked out before he hit the canvas, silencing the boisterous home crowd and extending the longest winning streak among active fighters in the UFC.
“Been a while since I’ve been extremely nervous for a fight. But he elevated me. He made me go to the workshop and sharpen all my tools to put on a performance like that,” Usman said in his post-fight interview, his daughter in his arms in the octagon.
“I am the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet right now,” he added.
In the co-main event Namajunas, who won the title in 2017 and had one successful defence before losing it to Andrade in 2019, landed a left high kick flush to the jaw to put the lights out for Zhang after just a minute and 18 seconds of their title fight.
Namajunas dived in to finish off her opponent but referee Keith Petersen was quick to wave it off as the American snapped her opponent’s 21-fight winning streak and became the first woman in the UFC to reclaim a title.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)