Taking main event status at UFC 266; an undisputed featherweight championship fight between reigning division best, Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski and the #2 ranked contender, Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega.
Undefeated throughout his tenure under the UFC’s banner, City Kickboxing mainstay, Volkanovski lodged his first successful defense of the featherweight title at UFC 251 in July of last year, defeating former champion and two-time opponent, Max Holloway with a close, split decision victory.
For Ortega, the Los Angeles native returned to the Octagon in the main event of UFC Fight Island 6 last October where he rebounded to the winner’s enclosure with a dominant unanimous decision victory over Chan Sung Jung.
In the night’s co-headlining bout, as part of a championship doubleheader — reigning flyweight champion, Valentina ‘Bullet’ Shevchenko looks to tie former bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey for most successful title defenses, when she clashes with the surging challenger, ‘Lucky’ Lauren Murphy.
Featuring as part of a title tripleheader at UFC 261 in April, Shevchenko managed a dominant second round knockout win over former strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade.
Undefeated in her last five outings, Alaska native, Murphy met with Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263 in June, where she edged out a close split judging win to set up her premier title challenge under the UFC’s banner.
In a featured main card bout, former welterweight title challenger, Nick Diaz makes his first Octagon appearance in six and a half years as he draws former opponent and one-time welterweight champion, ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler in a middleweight rematch, 17-years in the making.
Diaz’s last outing came against former middleweight titleholder, Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 183 in January 2015, in an eventual official ‘No Contest’ ruling.
For San Diego knockout artist, Lawler, he suffered a unanimous decision loss against Neil Magny in August of last year in a relatively short-notice bout. Initially meeting in April 2004 at UFC 47, Diaz, who made his Octagon bow that night, scored a massive one-punch second round knockout.
UFC 266 Results: Volkanovski vs. Ortega
Main Card: (ESPN+/Pay-Per-View 10 pm E.T.)
Featherweight: Alexander Volkanovski (c) def. Brian Ortega (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)
Flyweight: Valentina Shevchenko (c) def. Lauren Murphy via fourth round (4:00) TKO (ground strikes)
Middleweight: Robbie Lawler def. Nick Diaz via third round (0:44) TKO (punches)
Heavyweight: Curtis Blaydes def. Jairzinho Rozenstruik via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Flyweight: Jessica Andrade def. Cynthia Calvillo via first round (4:54) TKO (strikes)
Preliminary Card: (ESPNews/ESPN+ 8 pm E.T)
Bantamweight: Merab Dvalishvili def. Marlon Moraes via second round (4:26) TKO (ground strikes)
Lightweight: Dan Hooker def. Nasrat Haqparast via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Heavyweight: Chris Daukaus def. Shamil Abdurakhimov via second round (1:23) TKO (ground strikes)
Flyweight: Taila Santos def. Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Early Preliminary Card:(ESPN+/UFC Fight Pass 6 pm E.T.)
Lightweight: Jalin Turner def. Uros Medic via first round (4:01) submission (rear-naked choke)
Middleweight: Nick Maximov def. Cody Brundage via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Welterweight: Matthew Semelsberger def. Martin Sano Jr. via first round (0:15) KO (punch)
Featherweight: Jonathan Pearce def. Omar Morales via second round (3:31) submission (rear-naked choke)