UFC fans were left raging on Sunday after spectators at UFC 261 booed Kamaru Usman and Zhang Weili in "disgusting" scenes.
The UFC held its first capacity crowd since the COVID-19 pandemic kicked in, welcoming 15,000 fans to VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Florida.
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And while most were overjoyed by the return to normalcy, there was some anger after unsavoury scenes.
Usman was booed before, during and after his brutal KO victory over Jorge Masvidal, while Zhang was also booed as she lost to Rose “Thug” Namajunas.
Usman ended the event by winning his 18th-straight bout and retaining his welterweight belt.
He knocked out Masvidal with a right punch to the jaw early in the second round, silencing a pro-Masvidal crowd.
Usman’s knockout victory was his third in his last four fights, further showcasing his impressive versatility and an ability to adjust tactics during bouts.
The former NCAA Division II wrestler had only one knockout victory in his first 10 UFC fights before he stopped Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns and Masvidal with punches in the past 18 months.
But despite the impressive KO, the pro-Masvidal crowd rained down boos on Usman, leaving onlookers shocked.
Kamaru Usman continues incredible UFC streak
Usman’s 18 consecutive MMA victories include 14 straight wins since joining the UFC in 2015.
Only Anderson Silva’s streak of 16 straight UFC wins is longer in the promotion’s history.
“He’s one of the best ever. He’s an absolute stud," Dana White said.
"You’re an idiot if you think this guy is boring.”
Usman (19-1) thanked Masvidal (35-15) for scaring him and pushing him, saying it's been a long time since he felt nervous before a bout.
Masvidal held his own against the champ, whose strategy including stomping on Masvidal’s feet every time they were locked up.
“He's got my number, man,” Masvidal said.
Namajunas (11-4) stunned Zhang (21-2) to take the strawweight belt.
Namajunas sent Zhang to the canvas with a left foot to the face, and the bout was stopped at the 1:18 mark of the opening round.
Namajunas broke down in tears in the octagon as she became the first woman in UFC history to recapture a championship belt. Three previous champions failed to reclaim belts they had lost, including Ronda Rousey.
Zhang erupted in anger, clearly upset with the referee's decision to stop the fight. Replays showed how vicious the kick was, but Zhang insisted she never lost consciousness.
with Associated Press
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