As Bruce Buffer would say “It’s Time”, but not to fight, instead to get ready for what the upcoming UFC 266 event has in store for UFC fanatics. While UFC 265 was a good event, where we saw heavyweight Frenchman and UFC odds favorite, Ciryl Gane win the Interim Heavyweight Championship of the World against Derrick Lewis in a one-sided affair that took “Fight of the Night” recognition, UFC fans are ready for more championship-caliber action.
There are two championship fights as the headliners of the event – Aleksander Volkanovski will defend his UFC Featherweight Championship against Brian Ortega; and Valentina Shevchenko will put her UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship on the line against Lauren Murphy.
There will also be a fight with two of the most experienced fighters and fan favorites, Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler, so you know that we’re going to be in for a good night of fighting. So without further ado, here’s our preview of the two championship fights from the UFC 266 main card.
Volkanovski vs. Ortega
The Aleksander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega fight for the UFC Featherweight Championship has all the makings to end up being an all-out brawl and we are here for it.
While this fight was supposed to happen months before its present date for UFC 260, the fight had to be moved to UFC 266 after Australian fighter Volkanovski tested positive for COVID-19 one week before the event went down.
While fans waited for the matchup to happen, both fighters actually ended up being paired together but not for direct fighting purposes necessarily. Both Volkanovski and Ortega respectively were picked as coaches for the relaunch of the Ultimate Fighter reality show, “The Return of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Volkanovski vs. Team Ortega”.
Their interactions on the show and continuous spiffs and word brawls between them, on and off the show just help to add a little more spice and tension to a matchup that UFC fans have been waiting to see go down.
Both fighters hold impressive fighting records with the champion Volkanovski still not having lost a single fight in the UFC with a professional record of 22-1 and 9-0 in the UFC and Ortega holding a 15-1 record, 7-1 in the UFC. But for Volkanovski, this fight is all about proving to fans and foes why he’s the best in his weight class.
After scoring wins against the likes of Max Holloway, who he beat twice, including once for the title and then again in his first title defense, as well as Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes, Volkanovski wants to make beating Ortega a statement to all of his doubters.
Ortega on the other hand, wants another chance for the title after having his only loss in the UFC come against Max Holloway in a title bout at UFC 231. The key for Volkanovski will be to find a way to finish off Ortega, who is known for his strength and durability, in the fastest way possible.
If they end up going the whole five rounds, the fight could be up in the air, but if Volkanovski finds luck in his strategy he would be looking at yet another successful title defense.
Shevchenko vs. Murphy
After Amanda Nunes, there is no better female fighter in the UFC than Valentina Shevchenko. Her counter-strike abilities, mastering of muay thai as well as her twisting-wheel kicks, make for an immense arsenal of skills and abilities that are close to unmatched by any other female fighter in UFC.
That’s why it’s so easy to see why in her upcoming UFC Flyweight fight against Lauren Murphy, Shevchenko is the clear favorite to win and continue her reign as champion.
Shevchenko has a mindset when it comes to fighting that almost makes it look like she takes her opponents’ style of fighting, makes it her own, and proceeds to taunt and beat them with their own style of moves.
Add to all that a staggering 21-3 record, with two of those losses coming against Amanda Nunes, and a standing seven-fight win streak under her belt and you can see why Shevchenko is who to go with initially in this fight.
But don’t count out Lauren Murphy just yet. While she is the all-around underdog in this fight, she welcomes that, and believes that with the right mindset and preparation, she could end up trumping champion Shevchenko.
Coming into this fight with a respectable five-fight win streak, which is what ultimately led her to get her first title fight nod from UFC, Murphy believes that her confidence in knowing she can put up a great fight against the champion and not falling into any of Shevchenko’s mind tricks can add up to her prevailing.
Now, while we all love an underdog story, let’s be honest here, Shevchenko has no competition in her weight class and while Lauren Murphy is on her way to great things, beating Shevchenko is not one of those, at least not in UFC 266.