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, defeating Brian Ortega via lopsided (and wild) unanimous decision (see it again here). In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko earned her sixth straight title defense, 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.
Winner: Alexander Volkanovski
Who He Should Face Next: Holloway vs Rodriguez winner
This one is pretty much set in stone. If Max Holloway defeats Yair Rodriguez on Nov. 13, he will get his third chance to defeat Volkanovski and the opportunity to reclaim the title that was once his. If “Pantera” beats “Blessed,” then he will get his first-ever opportunity at winning a UFC world title. Chan Sung Jung and Calvin Kattar are next at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, but they haven’t done much as of late to even be mentioned in the championship conversation.
Winner: Valentina Shevchenko
Who She Should Face Next: Who’s left?
Another title fight, another dominant performance. Sure, “Bullet” took a bit longer than expected to take out Lauren Murphy, but she got the job done to earn her sixth straight title defense. Cynthia Calvillo blew her chance at earning a shot against “Bullet” after getting worked by Jessica Andrade in the first round. Viviane Araujo, Joanne Calderwood, Jessica Eye and Roxanne Modaferri are all coming off losses, leaving only Alexa Grasso the only Top 10-ranked fighter on a win streak with two in a row who has yet to fight Shevchenko (she is ranked No. 10). Katelyn Chookagian has also won two in a row, but Shevchenko already defeated her. So if Grasso defeats the aforementioned Joanne Calderwood on Nov. 20, then she will get her third straight win and a possible shot at the strap. It’s better than seeing Shevchenko face Chookagain and Andrade again. If Grasso does get the win against Calderwood, then UFC could set up a title eliminator fight between her and Chookagian.
Winner: Robbie Lawler
Who He Should Face Next: Nate Diaz
If it were up to me, I would really love see Lawler face Nate Diaz. Both men are nowhere near the Top 15 and the story to sell the fight is built in. We know the well-documented history between Lawler and Nick Diaz after the series was tied at one a piece last night. Some might think Nate would never take the fight in order to avoid the story line of baby brother coming to make things right for big brother, but I’m all for it.
Winner: Curtis Blaydes
Who He Should Face Next: Stipe Miocic
Blaydes got back on the winning track last night with a big win over Jairzinho Rozenstruik, though he didn’t endear himself to fans with his wrestling-heavy attack. Nevertheless, a win is a win and Blaydes is back in the winner’s circle. Up next for the big man, a fight against Stipe Miocic makes sense. Francis Ngannou and Cyril Gane are expected to fight in a title unification fight in the first quarter of 2022, so there is no reason to keep Blaydes and Miocic on ice until then. Let them fight each other and the winner of that fight gets the title shot. I mean, it’s not like Jon Jones is going to be making his Heavyweight debut anytime soon.
Winner: Jessica Andrade
Who She Should Face Next: Jennifer Maia
Andrade picked up a dominant first round technical knockout win over Cynthia Calvillo, but she won’t be fighting for the title again anytime soon. She will need to pick up another win or two before she gets a rematch against Shevchenko. She can start off by facing Maia, who is coming off a big win over Jessica Eye. Maia is currently ranked No. 4, so that fight makes sense when looking at the rankings.
For complete UFC 266 results and coverage click here.