LAS VEGAS — Alexander Volkanovski is normally a cool buyer. He has by no means actually had any private points with an opponent. Till now, that’s.
It is clear Brian Ortega received beneath the pores and skin of Volkanovski once they had been teaching reverse each other on The Final Fighter over the summer season. On Thursday throughout their information convention stare-down, Volkanovski introduced up Ortega’s 2014 optimistic drug take a look at. The tensions had been extraordinarily excessive.
On Saturday, the 2 males will lastly settle their variations when Volkanovski defends his UFC featherweight title in opposition to Ortega in the primary occasion of UFC 266 in Las Vegas. The bout was initially scheduled for UFC 260 in March, however Volkanovski examined optimistic for COVID-19, forcing issues to be pushed again.
Volkanovski is ESPN’s No. 6-ranked pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. ESPN has Volkanovski ranked No. 1 and Ortega ranked No. Three on the planet at featherweight.
Volkanovski (22-1) has gained all of his 9 UFC fights. The Aussie is coming off a cut up choice win over Max Holloway at UFC 251 in July 2020, his first title protection. That was a detailed one and lots of thought Holloway was the true winner. Volkanovski, 32, hasn’t misplaced since Could 2013, his fourth professional struggle. He beat Holloway to win the title at UFC 245 in December 2019.
Ortega (15-1, 1 NC) is coming off a unanimous choice win over Chan Sung Jung final October, a comeback victory for Ortega, who had been out almost two years. The California native has just one profession loss and that additionally got here in a featherweight title struggle, in opposition to Holloway at UFC 231 in December 2018. Ortega, 30, holds a 7-1 (1 NC) document within the UFC.
Within the co-main occasion, Valentina Shevchenko will attempt to proceed her dominant run as UFC girls’s flyweight champion in opposition to challenger Lauren Murphy. Shevchenko (21-3), a 33-year-old Kyrgyzstan native combating out of Las Vegas, is ESPN’s No. 2-ranked girls’s fighter on the planet. Her solely UFC losses have come in opposition to Amanda Nunes, the pound-for-pound queen and double champion. Murphy (15-4), a 38-year-old Alaskan combating out of Houston, has gained 5 in a row.
Additionally on the cardboard, Nick Diaz returns after a layoff of greater than six years to tackle outdated rival Robbie Lawler in a five-round middleweight bout. Diaz and Lawler fought approach again in 2004, with Diaz successful by second-round knockout at UFC 47. Diaz (26-9, 2 NC), a 38-year-old from California, is a wildly in style former Strikeforce champion on the lookout for his first win since 2011. Lawler (28-15, 1 NC), a 39-year-old combating out of Florida, has dropped 4 straight. He’s the previous UFC welterweight champion.
Comply with reside with Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim or watch the fights on ESPN+ PPV.
Struggle in progress: Girls’s flyweight: Roxanne Modafferi (25-19, 4-7 UFC, +330) vs. Taila Santos (17-1, 2-1 UFC, -420)
Light-weight: Jalin Turner (11-5, 4-2 UFC) def. Uros Medic (7-1, 1-1 UFC) by first-round submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Turner is a striker, at first, and he did use his standup instruments — each punches and kicks, to each physique and head — to harm Medic as they traded in opposition to the cage. However when the struggle went to the bottom, Turner took command and sunk in a rear bare choke to get his second straight submission.
The top got here at 4:01 of the primary, after Medic went all the way down to his knees amid a barrage of punishment, largely to the midsection. Turner, who had earlier regarded sharp in controlling place on the bottom, adopted his opponent to the mat to grab the end. It was the third straight victory general for the 26-year-old Californian, all finishes.
Medic, a 28-year-old Serbian who fights out of Alaska, got here in undefeated however was taking part in catchup proper from the beginning of this one. He was outmatched all over the place the struggle went.
Turner on FIRE!! BEAST MODE ACTIVATED! #UFC266
— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) September 25, 2021
Middleweight: Nick Maximov (7-0, 1-Zero UFC) def. Cody Brundage (6-2, 0-1 UFC) by unanimous choice (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Maximov (7-0), a teammate of UFC veteran Nate Diaz, picked up his first win within the promotion with a unanimous choice over Cody Brundage.
The California middleweight leaned closely on his wrestling to safe the win. He took Brundage down repeatedly within the struggle, or held him in opposition to the fence when he could not drag him down. He took Brundage’s again a handful of occasions, and cruised to a transparent 29-28 victory on all three judges’ scorecards.
Brundage, of Colorado, took the struggle on brief discover when Maximov’s authentic opponent withdrew. He got here out unfastened, with no drawback letting his arms go early and even leaped right into a flying knee. The wrestling grind of Maximov finally wore on him nonetheless, and regardless that he managed to win the third spherical, he was already in a gap.
Maximov is a former contestant on the Dana White’s Contender Collection. The UFC initially didn’t signal him to a contract, however in the end added him to the roster after he gained on the present.
Welterweight: Matthew Semelsberger (9-3, 3-1 UFC) def. Martin Sano (4-3-1, 0-1 UFC) by first-round knockout (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Staff Diaz is just not off to a fantastic begin.
Semelsberger completely starched Sano with a monstrous knockout at 15 seconds of the primary spherical. That is Semelsberger’s second consecutive fast KO in three fights. He knocked out Jason Witt in 16 seconds in his UFC debut in March. This was the UFC debut for Sano, a longtime teammate of Nick Diaz.
“It felt wonderful,” Semelsberger mentioned in his postfight interview. “However truthfully, man. I am going to take the fast knockout. However … I used to be coming in prepared for a conflict.”
Afterward, Semelsberger mentioned he is arising on the ultimate struggle of his contract.
What. A. Punch! from @SemiTheJedi
— Charles Oliveira (@CharlesDoBronxs) September 25, 2021
“I am prepared for no matter you throw at me,” he mentioned. Semelsberger, 28, is now 3-1 within the UFC. The Maryland native is a grappler, however he clearly has one-punch knockout energy that should be reckoned with.
Sano, a 30-year-old California native, is winless in 4 straight.
Males’s featherweight: Jonathan Pearce (11-4, 2-1 UFC) def. Omar Morales (11-2, 3-2 UFC) by second-round submission (Watch this fight on ESPN+)
Pearce went proper after Morales firstly, however was met by a few sharp left jabs and a straight proper hand. So Pearce went to Plan B and he wore down his opponent with relentless grappling to earn his second straight end.
Pearce, who’s 29 and from Tennessee, trapped Morales in opposition to the cage for a lot of the remainder of the struggle, taking him down and, when Morales labored his approach again to his toes, taking him down once more. By halfway by way of Spherical 2, it appeared that Morales was unable to place up a lot resistance. Whereas on Morales’ again whereas standing, Pearce sunk in a rear-naked choke to get the tapout at 3:31.
Morales, a 35-year-old Venezuelan combating out of South Florida, has misplaced two of his final three after successful the primary 10 fights of his profession.
Nonetheless to come back:
Males’s featherweight title struggle: Alexander Volkanovski (c) (22-1, 9-Zero UFC, -180) vs. Brian Ortega (15-1 1 NC, 7-1 1 NC UFC, +155)
Girls’s flyweight title struggle: Valentina Shevchenko (c) (21-3, 10-2 UFC, -1500) vs. Lauren Murphy (15-4, 7-Four UFC, +850)
Middleweight: Nick Diaz (26-9 2 NC, 7-6 1 NC UFC, +120) vs. Robbie Lawler (28-15 1 NC, 13-9 in UFC, -140)
Heavyweight: Curtis Blaydes (14-Three 1 NC, 9-Three 1 NC UFC, -340) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-2, 6-2 UFC, +270)
Girls’s flyweight: Jessica Andrade (21-9, 12-7 UFC, -260) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1, 6-2-1 UFC, +210)
Males’s bantamweight: Marlon Moraes (23-8-1, 5-Four UFC, +210) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (13-4, 6-2 UFC, -260)
Light-weight: Dan Hooker (20-10, 10-6 UFC, -150) vs. Nasrat Haqparast (13-3, 5-2 UFC, +125)
Heavyweight: Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-5, 5-Three UFC, +165) vs. Chris Daukaus (11-3, 3-Zero UFC, -195)