The UFC 261 pre-fight press conference took place earlier today, and here are some of the highlights from the event.
After Dana White celebrated the return of a live crowd for the UFC 261 event as well as the press conference itself, we also heard ceremonial remarks from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry to help mark the momentous occasion. Following the opening formalities, the fighters took the stage, and the festivities began.
Kamaru Usman & Jorge Masvidal Exchange Words
During the first round of questions directed at Jorge Masvidal, the welterweight title challenger stated that Kamaru Usman was not much different from what he expected prior to their first fight but that it was good to experience sharing the Octagon with him first hand to confirm and further evaluate his thoughts. Masvidal then reiterated that the biggest difference this time around is that he would not be cutting 20 pounds of weight for his upcoming fight against Usman, so all of his energy and attention will be placed on his opponent instead.
From the moment he took the stage and after each response, Masvidal was being showered with cheers from his fellow Floridians. Meanwhile, aside from receiving moderate cheers when expressing his happiness to have the fans back, Kamaru Usman was met with boos from the moment he took the stage. Masvidal was asked about the presence of fans at UFC 261 and whether that will give him added motivation, and this is when the back-and-forth between Usman and Masvidal commenced.
Masvidal: You can hear it yourself, see it yourself. These guys want violence. And let me tell you, they don’t cheer for me because I’m so good-looking or the food that I eat or nothing. That’s not why they cheer for me. They cheer for me because I give everybody their hard-earned money, I come in here to perform and bring the violence that they crave. And that’s the only reason that I got all these fans behind me.
Usman: But the fans can’t fight for you.
Masvidal: I’mma whoop your ass all by myself. I don’t need nobody.
Masvidal: I don’t need nobody. I’ll whoop your ass all by myself.
Usman: You said that last time. What happened?
Masvidal: You know what happened? You rubbed feet with me. I thought you wanted to fight.
Usman: What happened? You said that last time.
Masvidal: You rubbed your feet on mine pretty well. You’re pretty good at rubbing my feet, bro.
Usman: Your face didn’t say that.
Masvidal: Let’s go. I didn’t get the broken nose. You did.
Usman: I came in the fight with the broken nose (smiles).
Masvidal: OK, cool. Got it. I want to see what the next list is.
Usman: All right, all right, let’s just be honest here. Let’s be honest. You got 14 losses in your career, 7 in the UFC. You’re 3-3 in the last 6. You are sitting there today because I chose you. I’m coming around the track and you are the first guy I’m about to lap. Period.
Masvidal: Don’t lose to this guy (points to himself). Hey, you just said it, man. Don’t lose to this guy.
Usman: The first guy I’m about to lap.
Masvidal: Don’t lose to this guy.
Usman: I don’t plan to.
Masvidal: And when you figure out we stopped that rubbing-foot technique, you’re gonna be in for a long one, man. I’mma bust your face up, break more bones than last time.
Masvidal: Remember this face (wide smile).
Masvidal: Word, my brother.
And that was the last word.
Jorge Masvidal Convinces Chad Johnson To Bet On Him
In a surprise appearance from Chad Johnson, acting as a reporter, the former NFL Pro-Bowl wide receiver asked Masvidal to give him assurances that it would be wise to place money on him as the betting underdog. After confirming that he was indeed speaking with Chad “Ocho Cinco,” the two exchanged pleasantries and Masvidal would then tell Johnson all he needed to hear.
“Let’s go, my brother. Hey, man to man, soul to soul, let’s go, man. It’s a smart bet,” Masvidal said with a confident wink and a smile.
BMF Title Not On The Line
Masvidal was also asked whether he would be putting up the BMF championship, which he had present on stage with him. This is what “Gamebred” had to say in response:
“You gotta be a BMF to compete for that one, and this dude ain’t it,” he said referring to Usman.
Kamaru Usman was asked to respond to Masvidal’s remarks and whether he coveted the BMF title. The welterweight champion responded as follows:
“What belt? There’s three belts here, three shiny belts here. This is what’s important, not that piece of shit.”
“You’re right, man,” Masvidal interjected. “And I want your belt.”
Despite the bickering between Usman and Masvidal, Masvidal did double down on previous comments that he would grant Kamaru Usman a rematch should a new champion be crowned on Saturday. This would no doubt be the most amicable remarks uttered by either party about their opponent during this press conference:
“Definitely,” Masvidal said about the hypothetical trilogy fight. “He gave me a chance, whether we see eye to eye on things or not. He gave me another chance to compete again, so I’ll definitely give him the chance to compete again.”
Zhang Weili Dismisses Rose Namajunas’ Remarks About Communism
One of the big stories over the past week has been Rose Namajunas‘ politically driven comments about her upcoming fight against Zhang Weili. In short, Namajunas stated that because of hardships her Lithuanian ancestors endured under a communist regime, she felt that fighting Weili, a native of communist China, was preordained and implied that the fight would serve as a symbolic fight against communism. Weili issued a brief response earlier this week, and her response here at the press conference was even shorter.
“It won’t affect her. She will try her best to win the game,” Weili’s translator conveyed.
During the faceoffs, the two women did shake hands, thus putting some ice on the widespread belief that the fight had turned personal.
You can catch some of the highlights from the UFC 261 pre-fight press conference for yourself as well as the full faceoffs below.
UFC 261 takes place this Saturday, April 24, 2021 from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida with fans in full attendance for the first time in over a year.
What are your thoughts and takeaways from today’s UFC 261 pre-fight press conference?