UFC 266: What You Can Expect?
We are now a matter of days away from Ultimate Fighting Championship’s latest blockbuster event: UFC 266.
Scheduled to take place on September 25 2021 at the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise Nevada, the fight card is absolutely stacked with three matches in particular standing out.
The first of these sees Alexander Volkanovski take on Brian Ortega for the UFC Featherweight Championship. The UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship is also on the line with champion Valentina Shevchenko squaring off with Cynthia Calvillo. Last but certainly not least, Nick Diaz is returning to UFC. Robbie Lawler is the man hoping to spoil Diaz’s return.
All three of these high-profile matches are bound to attract a lot of interest from fans and sports bettors alike. If you are wondering which fighters you should be backing, we have your back. Below we have compiled a one-stop guide to everything you need to know about the upcoming event.
Nick Diaz vs Robbie Lawler
Many thought it would never happen but six-and-a-half years on from his last UFC match - a no contest against the legendary Anderson Silva - Nick Diaz is back. Diaz was one of the promotion's most controversial stars during the 2010s.
Failing multiple drugs tests in his time with UFC he first competed for the company all the way back in 2003 where he defeated Jeremy Jackson at UFC 44 via submission. After that he swiftly rose up the card courtesy of a second win over Jackson, as well as victories over Robbie Lawler - who he faces this month - Drew Fickett and Koji Oishi.
Eventually he hit a wall in UFC, however, taking his talents elsewhere after defeating Gleison Tobau at UFC 65. Impressing at other promotions throughout the late 2000s, fans were eager to see him return to the big leagues and they eventually got their wish with Diaz coming back at UFC 137, where he bested B.J. Penn.
This win put him in contention for the UFC Welterweight Championship but he lost successive title bouts to Carlos Condit and Georges St. Pierre. This was followed by the Silva debacle, where both men failed drugs tests.
After a storied career, a now 38-year-old Diaz returns to where he became a household name. His opponent at UFC 266 will be familiar to him as he defeated Lawler back in 2004. Both men have changed a lot since then, though, making this a tough one to predict.
The bookmakers are finding the bout tough to call also, even if Lawler is a slight favourite in the UFC 266 odds. He’s currently at -200 while Diaz can be backed at +100.
So, which fighter is most likely to win. Well, as we already mentioned, this is a seriously tough one to call. The Diaz of a decade ago was a world class fighter. A true mixed martial artist he combines the boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu disciplines into a truly devastating package. The only problem with backing him is that he is somewhat of an unknown quantity after having such an extended hiatus from the sport.
What will fill Diaz with confidence is Lawler’s recent UFC record. Once the standout fighter in the welterweight division he has increasingly been fed to younger talent more recently, picking up just one win from his last six fights.
Another defeat to Diaz and Lawler fall even further down the card so he will be desperate to prove he still has the earning power to be at the top of the billing.
Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega
While Diaz and Lawler are bringing their careers to a close, Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega are on the up. The former is the UFC Featherweight champion but Ortega will be desperate to clinch the belt after losing a title bout against Max Holloway back in 2018.
That is the only loss of Ortega’s professional career so far and he will not want to make it a second against Volkanovski.
He is in for a very tough match, though. Volkanovski has only lost one fight in his professional career - and that came all the way back in 2013 in his native Australia. Since then, 18 wins have followed and he has already said he is confident of retaining later this month.
His fights tend to go the distance with six of his nine UFC fights ending in a decision victory. Meanwhile, Ortega is more inclined to get the fight won early. He has only won by decision once during his UFC career. This should make for an intriguing clash of styles at UFC 266.
Valentina Shevchenko vs Lauren Murphy
Rounding off our trio of fascinating matches is Valentina Shevchenko vs Lauren Murphy. Shevchenko has held the UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship for some time now, first winning the belt off of Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 back in December 2018. Five successful defences have followed since then and the bookies also have her as favourite for this bout.
It could be a tough evening for the Bullet, though. Murphy is on quite the hot streak, picking up five impressive wins on the spin against Mara Romero Borella, Andrea Lee, Roxanne Modafferi, Liliya Shakirova and Joanne Calderwood.
As she is approaching her 40th birthday, Murphy will know that time is running out for her to secure a title, giving her extra motivation to get the job done at UFC 266.