UFC 266 is all set and ready to go for Saturday night September 25 in Las Vegas. The main event features the battle of the two coaches from TUF 29 for the Featherweight title while the co-main is for the Women’s Flyweight title. As usual, there are five fights on the main card. Here is how each of those fights could play out at UFC 266:
Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega
The TUF 29 coaches battle will be for the Featherweight title. The current champion, Volkanovski, is on a current 19 fight winning streak including a perfect 9-0 record since joining the UFC. His constant pressure at a very high pace has overwhelmed his opponents; adding his versatility to the mix has made him a difficult puzzle to solve. Ortega is ready for the challenge after a dominant performance over The Korean Zombie back in October. He is clean with his striking and a master of BJJ, making him a difficult opponent as well.
The only loss in the professional MMA career of Ortega came back in 2018 in his first UFC title match against Max Holloway. He was dominated in that match, with Holloway nearly tripling him in total strikes landed. Interestingly, Holloway is an opponent that Volkanovski has already beaten twice. Both fights were very close but Volkanovski won the decision in both of them. This common opponent could be telling in how this UFC 266 main event between two dynamic fighters may play out.
The Pick: Alexander Volkanovski wins by Decision
Valentina Shevchenko vs Lauren Murphy
After seven years in the UFC, the former Invicta FC champion, Lauren Murphy, will get her first shot at a UFC title. She has come a long way since starting her UFC career with a disappointing 2-4 record. She is currently on a five-fight win streak. This has earned her a title fight against one of the top MMA stars in the world in Valentina Shevchenko.
Over the last ten-plus years, Shevchenko has not lost a fight to anyone not named Amanda Nunes, who is of course the women’s GOAT. Shevchenko is one of the best strikers of all time and has even demonstrated that she can grapple too recently. Anything can happen on fight night, but the scrappy Murphy is a bit out of her league in this one.
The Pick: Valentina Shevchenko wins by TKO
Nick Diaz vs Robbie Lawler
A rematch more than 17 years in the making is finally happening. It would have been more of an exciting situation years ago, but better late than never. Diaz is making his return to the Octagon after a long six-plus-year absence. Lawler is almost 40 years old now and is coming into this fight having lost his last four in a row. Fireworks can be expected in this one, as always with any of the Diaz brothers’ fights. If Diaz is not too rusty and can utilize his grappling, he should be able to get a finish. Lawler is a great striker, but his ground game has always been a weakness.
The Pick: Nick Diaz wins by Submission
Curtis Blaydes vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik
When Blaydes fights, the outcome is generally dependent on whether or not he can score his takedowns. This fight should be no different. He will look to utilize his signature ground and pound while Rozenstruik tries to keep the fight standing. Rozenstruik has shown solid takedown defense against some of his recent opponents including Ciryl Gane and Alistair Overeem.
Blaydes is a bigger challenge in the takedown game, but if he can hold him off, he has the power to knock him out. Derrick Lewis did exactly that to Blaydes in his most recent fight. Interestingly, Rozenstruik has a very similar style as Lewis does so he will try to repeat that result.
The Pick: Jairzinho Rozenstruik wins by TKO
Jessica Andrade vs Cynthia Calvillo
Andrade is a brawler who is capable of finishing any fight, as she has in her last three victories. She has both knockout power and a strong submission game to go with it. On the other hand, Calvillo has never been finished in her professional MMA career. She has found success with her grappling game but has never faced an opponent quite like this. Andrade is highly skilled and extremely powerful with the skillset to compete, regardless of the fight script. She should have an answer for whatever strategy Calvillo tries to use.
The Pick: Jessica Andrade wins by Decision