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UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega Main Card Picks (Sept 25)

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  • UFC returns to T-Mobile Arena with blockbuster pay-per-view.
  • 14 fights scheduled to take place across Early Prelims, Prelims and Main Card.
  • Two title fights set to headline as Valentina Shevchenko takes on Lauren Murphy and Alexander Volkanovski faces Brian Ortega.

This weekend’s UFC is set to be one of the best cards of the year.

14 fights are scheduled to place across a jam-packed card which includes several high-profile mixed martial artists all on display.

Standout bouts include a feature Prelim bout between former bantamweight title challenger Marlon Moraes and Merab Dvalishvili, as well as fan-favorite and veteran Nick Diaz, who will be returning after a six year-long layoff to face ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler.

The top of the Main Card is likely to draw the most attention though as two title fights to cap off what is certain to be a hugely exciting evening of fighting entertainment.

Pound-for-pound queen Valentina Shevchenko is looking to defend her flyweight title for the sixth time when she faces next-in-line Lauren Murphy.

Elsewhere, ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ judges and clear rivals Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will be squaring off for the chance to become the UFC’s featherweight champion.

Currently reigning supreme over the 145lb division, Aussie-born striker Volkanovski will be hoping to defend his title for the second time with a win over number two ranked contender, Ortega.

UFC 266: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega – Full Schedule

Early Prelims

  • Featherweight: Jonathan Pearce (10-4) vs. Omar Morales (11-1)
  • Welterweight: Matthew Semelsberger (8-3) vs. Martin Sano (4-2)
  • Middleweight: Karl Roberson (9-4) vs. Nick Maximov (6-0)
  • Women’s Flyweight: Manon Fiorot (7-1) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva (7-1)
  • Lightweight: Uros Medic (7-0) vs. Jalin Turner (10-5)

Prelims

  • Women’s Flyweight: Roxanne Modafferi (25-19) vs. Talia Santos (17-1)
  • Heavyweight: Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-5) vs. Chris Daukaus (11-3)
  • Lightweight: Dan Hooker (20-10) vs. Nasrat Haqparast (13-3)
  • Bantamweight: Marlon Moraes (23-8) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (13-4)

Main Card

  • Women’s Flyweight: Jessica Andrade (21-9) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (9-2)
  • Heavyweight: Curtis Blaydes (14-3) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-2)
  • Welterweight: Nick Diaz (26-9) vs. Robbie Lawler (28-15)
  • Women’s Flyweight: Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) vs. Lauren Murphy (15-4)
  • Featherweight: Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) vs. Brian Ortega (15-1)

Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo

Looking to get back to winning ways following a recent loss against Katlyn Chookagian, Cynthia Calvillo will be focused on bagging one of the biggest wins of her career against former champion Jessica Andrade.

I expect this one to be a bit of a brawl with the American narrowly edging her South American opponent.

Prediction: Cynthia Calvillo to win via decision

Dec 7, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Marina Rodriguez (red gloves) fights Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 7, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Marina Rodriguez (red gloves) fights Cynthia Calvillo (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo Popular MarketsOdds
Jessica Andrade to win outright-275
Cynthia Calvillo to win outright+235

Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Hoping to get back into the win column following a devastating loss against Derrick Lewis, contender Curtis Blaydes will be looking to extend his professional record to 15-3.

Beating the notoriously tough Jairzinho Rozenstruik won’t be an easy task though. Regardless of that though, I expect Blaydes to utilize his superior ground game and end up convincing the judges across all three rounds.

Prediction: Curtis Blaydes to win via decision.

Curtis Blaydes

UFC on ESPN+ 24 post-event facts: Rafael dos Anjos advances in record book despite loss
Curtis Blaydes UFC on ESPN+ 24 post-event facts: Rafael dos Anjos advances in record book despite loss
Curtis Blaydes vs. Jarzinho Rozenstruik Popular MarketsOdds
Curtis Blaydes to win outright-300
Jarzinho Rozenstruik to win outright+250

Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler

The Main Card’s third fight will see the long-awaited return of fan-favorite Nick Diaz.

Having last fought nearly seven years ago, Diaz, who forms one-half of the famous Diaz brothers, will be looking to make a memorable comeback.

This one is exceptionally tough to call, partly because it’s impossible to tell what kind of shape the American will return in, but also because even though Lawler is on a dreadful four-fight losing streak, you can never completely count ‘Ruthless’ out.

Prediction: Nick Diaz to win via decision.

Jun 12, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Nick Diaz brother of Nate Diaz in attendance during UFC 263 at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 12, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Nick Diaz brother of Nate Diaz in attendance during UFC 263 at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler Popular MarketsOdds
Nick Diaz to win outright-109
Robbie Lawler to win outright+111

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy

The first of two incredible title fights will see dominant champion and female GOAT contender Valentina Shevchenko take on Lauren Murphy.

Seemingly being fed into the lion’s den, not many fight fans will be backing Murphy to pull off what will arguably be one of, if not, the biggest upset in professional mixed martial arts history.

Looking to defend her title for the sixth straight time and with virtually no weaknesses in her game – I know where my money is going.

Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko to win via knockout.

Apr 24, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Valentina Shevchenko (Red Gloves) fights Jessica Andrade (Blue Gloves) during UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Valentina Shevchenko (Red Gloves) fights Jessica Andrade (Blue Gloves) during UFC 261 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy Popular MarketsOdds
Valentina Shevchenko to win outright-1800
Lauren Murphy to win outright+1000
Fight to go the distance – NO-303

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega

Following what will undoubtedly be a great card from top to bottom, all roads will inevitably lead to the main event.

In light of their fierce rivalry, which has been amplified by their roles on the latest season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, top featherweights Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will throw down for the chance to be crowned the division’s king.

Having held the title since his 2019 win over Max Holloway, Volkanovski will be confident he can pull off a striking masterclass to dismantle ‘T-City’ and in turn dish out the second title fight defeat in the American’s career.

Prediction: Alexander Volkanovski to win via decision.

July 12, 2020; Abu Dhabi, UAE;  Alexander Volkanovski of Australia celebrates after his split-decision victory over Max Holloway in their UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports
July 12, 2020; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Alexander Volkanovski of Australia celebrates after his split-decision victory over Max Holloway in their UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega Popular MarketsOdds
Alexander Volkanovski to win outright-170
Brian Ortega to win outright+145
Fight to go the distance – YES-139

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