UFC 266 went down last night (Sat., Sept. 25, 2021) from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, in what truly was an exciting night of fights. In the main event of the evening, Alexander Volkanovski retained his Featherweight title by defeating Brian Ortega via (see it again here). In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko earned her sixth straight title defense by stopping Lauren Murphy in the second round of their women’s Flyweight title fight (highlights). And in the other featured bout, Robbie Lawler defeated Nick Diaz via third round technical knockout in their rematch.
Biggest Winner: Alexander Volkanovski
It's time to put some respect on Volk’s name. Yes, there are still people out there who boo “The Great” — even though there’s no legit reason to — and who call him the second best Featherweight on the planet because people still can’t get over the fact that he beat fan-favorite Max Holloway not once, but twice. Volkanovski silenced several doubters after putting on one of the most dominate championship performances in recent memory. For five rounds, “The Great” kept his foot on the gas pedal and put it on “T-City” the entire time, busting him open and possibly breaking a couple of facial bones in the process. Credit to Ortega, he proved he has the heart of a champion and almost pulled a rabbit out of his hat in the third round, but Volkanovski is just a notch above everyone else at 145 pounds. A trilogy fight against Holloway could be lurking, assuming “Blessed” gets through Yair Rodriguez.
Runner(s) Up: Valentina Shevchenko and Robbie Lawler
It took longer than expected, but Shevchenko got the job done against Murphy, who proved to be a tough challenge for “Bullet." But, the outcome was what most expected because she’s just too dominant. She earned her sixth straight title defense and is setting the bar high for the Flyweight division. Pretty soon she may have to start thinking about moving back up to Bantamweight for better competition. That said, every win further elevates her status as one of the greatest female MMA fighters in the history of the sport, with only Amanda Nunes to look up to.
I’m going with Lawler here, as well, because he came into his rematch against Nick Diaz on a four-fight losing streak. And even though he didn’t exactly beat a prime Diaz to get his revenge, at the end of the day, he did pick up the win. Not only does it stop the bleeding, it saves his UFC career and gives him some much-needed confidence moving forward.
Biggest Loser: Marlon Moraes
Most were likely expecting Nick Diaz here, and rightfully so, but we will discuss him in another article. For now let’s focus on Marlon Moraes. The former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) Bantamweight champion and one-time UFC title contender has really fallen on hard times, coming into his fight against Merab Dvalishvilli with two straight technical knockout defeats. And he walked away from the T-Mobile Arena with his third loss, also via technical knockout. It’s been two years since Moraes has seen any type of “Magic” inside the Octagon, though he did start off this fight on the right foot and nearly finished Dvalishvilli in the opening moments. Moraes will now head into his next fight with a ton of pressure on his shoulders because four straight defeats could mark the end of the UFC road for him.
For complete UFC 266: “Volkanovski vs. Ortega” results and play-by-play, click HERE.