Tag Archives: UFC 266

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Jonathan Pearce def Omar Morales via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 2 (3:31)

Slow start to the fight for Pearce as Morales keeps the distance well in the opening minute and lands some nice low kicks. Pearce struggling to close the distance and Morales lets fly with some big strikes that just miss on the counter. Beautiful left hand from Morales followed by a big low kick but Pearce rushes him and goes for a takedown from the clinch, but Morales is able to get back up instantly and clinch up against the cage again. Pearce tries to drag him back down before a big trip gets him into top position, but Morales has the underhook and is able to sweep and get on top. Pearce holds on and then lands another big takedown, but Morales throws some big elbows and eventually gets back to the feet. More clinching against the cage as the round ends. Pearce didn’t do much damage but he controlled the ground game for the majority of the round, so 10-9 Pearce.

Fast start from Pearce this time as he ducks under a wild right hook and goes for the takedown immediately. Morales defends it well against the cage but Pearce is relentless with it and eventually gets him down and takes his back. Pearce slides off and Morales looks for a d’arce choke but he rolls and loses the grip, so Pearce gets up and gets on Morales’ back again. Morales is tired and Pearce has a body triangle, but Morales almost gives up full mount. Pearce landing some strikes on the ground and eventually sinks in a choke. Morales refuses to tap but passes out and the referee stops it! Big win for JSP!

Matthew Semelsberger def Martin Sano Jr via Knockout, Round 1 (0:15)

GOODNIGHT. Semelsberger throws out a couple of feeler shots, then lands a steaming right straight on the chin and Sano is out cold. Semelsberger lands one more while he’s down and this one is over.

Nick Maximov def Cody Brundage via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fun start from both guys as Brundage opens with a few strikes and knee, while Maximov shoots for a takedown but sees it get defended. Maximov lands two big strikes and Brundage starts throwing hard leg kicks to see him off. Maximov shoots in for a takedown and immediately transitions to the back, but Brundage defending well using a kimura grip and gets back to his feet. Maximov shoots in for another takedown and this time steps over Brundage to avoid the kimura defence and he ends up in a really positive position on top. Short strikes and Brundage just holding tight for the final 30 seconds. Maximov lands some heavy strikes and Brundage rushes back up to end the round. 10-9 Maximov.

Brundage goes in for an early takedown on Maximov but he reverses the position and ends up on top himself. Maximov takes the back and starts landing some nice ground and pound and then sinks his hooks in and takes Brundage’s back. Brundage starts working his way back up to the feet and eats a big knee, before he spins out and looks for a guillotine submission. Maximov pops his head out and is in full guard on top. He takes the back again and is looking for a choke. Brundage fights the hands and escapes but Maximov keeps his position on the back for the remainder of the round. 20-18 Maximov.

Final round and once again Maximov goes for a takedown to hold Brundage down but he defends it well. Nice right hand from Brundage changes Maximov’s balance and drops him. Maximov controlling the exchanges but Brundage now throwing big elbows from the bottom and Maximov is hurt. Some big strikes land on the ground and he ends up on top landing big strikes, but Maximov grabs a single leg and survives it. He gets back on top and holds the position for the rest of the round to hopefully secure a win. 29-28 Maximov.

Jalin Turner def Uros Medic via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (4:01)

Turner starts the fight by taking the centre and flicking out a jab, then landing a nice left hand down the middle. Medic responds with two hard low kicks and then a high kick that lands, but Turner catches the leg high and takes Medic down into side control. Medic tries to sweep and roll through but Turner does well to keep full guard position. Medic pushes his way back to the feet but Turner follows him up and hurts him with a nasty body shot. Turner pouring on the pressure with strikes and body shots and he puts Medic down. He piles on more strikes, Medic turns to his knees, Turner synches up a choke and Medic taps! What a performance!

PRELIMS

Taila Santos def Roxanne Modafferi via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fast start to this one on the feet from Santos, who lands some big hooks clean early on in some exchanges. Santos charges with strikes, clinches up and then secures a takedown with a trip inside the first 90 seconds. Santos teeing off with elbows and body strikes on the ground but Modafferi is working for an armbar off her back. Santos lands a big elbow strike to escape and goes back into full guard before Modafferi works her way back to her feet against the cage. Modafferi switches positions and lands some nice knees to the body, before Santos trips her again and takes back to the mat. Modafferi pops back up and looks to take Santos down against the cage but she defends well and lands some heavy knees to the body to close out the round. 10-9 Santos.

Modafferi comes out swinging in the second round and both women connect with big shots early, before Santos has a kick caught and Modafferi takes her towards the cage. Santos defends well but Modafferi staying patient and consistent with the pressure. Santos lands a huge right hook that wobbles Modafferi and Santos charges into her and takes her down to the mat. Modafferi’s eye is swollen and cut bad as Santos lands another big ground and pound strike before wearing on her from top position. Santos takes the back of Modafferi but she works her way back up to the feet against the cage, but Santos takes her straight back down again. Santos controls the position for the final minute and takes this round too. 20-18.

Santos takes the centre to start the final round and is looking to counter Modafferi with strikes. Modafferi steps forward and lands a couple of strikes but Santos responds with two hard straights of her own. Santos lands two huge hooks and Modafferi sits down on her butt, before Santos launches on to her and starts controlling position again. Santos landing some big elbow strikes from the top and Modafferi looks completely outclassed right now. Santos advances to side control with a cradle, then switches to take her back. Santos going for a choke but Modafferi fighting against it before Santos lets her back up on the feet. 90 seconds left and Modafferi still coming forward but Santos is landing her jab at will. Modafferi goes for a clinch against the cage but Santos throws her over her hip to end the round on top. 30-27, dominant.

Chris Daukaus def Shamil Abdurakhimov via Knockout, Round 2 (1:23)

Feeling out process to open up this fight as Daukaus just misses with an uppercut. Abdurakhimov hits a nice body shot and then goes for a spinning body kick as Daukaus throws a big right hand and both just miss. Abdurakhimov getting comfortable now and landing shots, with two big left hands catching Daukaus. Abdurakhimov goes to spin and Daukaus throws a leg kick at the same time which drops him. He gets back to the feet and Daukaus is head-hunting a little, but Abdurakhimov doing well to counter and keep him from landing flush. Daukaus steps forward and lands a huge left hook that drops him! He jumps on him for the finish and lands huge elbows and strikes but runs out of time. 10-9 Daukaus.

Daukaus steps forward early but Abdurakhimov is using his experience to slow the fight all the way down as he tries to recover. Big combination from Daukaus lands and Abdurakhimov is hurt! Daukaus comes forward and lands a huge right hook that drops him again! He goes for the finish and lands two huge elbows before the referee steps in and ends it! Huge knockout from Daukaus!

Dan Hooker def Nasrat Haqparast via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-26)

Slow start to the bout as Hooker takes the centre early on and starts cutting the cage off early on as Haqparast circles the outside. Hooker looks for a few straight rights and body kicks, and Haqparast explodes with a big left hand that just misses. Hooker throwing some body kicks and still controlling the centre, with Haqparast still just circling on the outside and looking to explode. More of the same as we enter the final minute, where Haqparast just misses with a one-two before Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage. Haqparast defends it well as Hooker releases it, lands a one-two with a knee just as the buzzer goes. 10-9 Hooker.

Lots of kicks in the second round from Hooker as he pushes the pace and tries to attack more. Hooker goes for a takedown against the cage and throws some nice knees in the clinch against the cage, but Haqparast defending the takedown attempt well. Hooker lands a knee that knocks the mouthpiece out of Haqparast’s mouth but he’s not hurt. Hooker starting to clinch and throw knees a lot more now with Haqparast on the outside. Clinch against the cage and Hooker lands a nice body shot then right hand and he’s starting to land a lot more now. Big right hand from Hooker and then he clinches and slams Haqparast down to the mat. Hooker into side control and he’s landing knees to the body to close out the round. 20-18 Hooker.

Haqparast starts the third round with two big strikes that land nice on the chin but Hooker eats them and responds with an accidental low blow. Haqparast now coming forward and landed a big right hand again. Both guys exchange body kicks and then Hooker changes levels perfectly and secures a takedown. Hooker goes straight into side control and is landing some short shots on the ground while controlling the position. Hooker landing plenty of short strikes and then transitions to the back and lands some nice shots. Haqparast bursts back up but Hooker immediately level changes and gets the fight back down to the ground. Hooker controls the position for the rest of the round and lands some good ground and pound to end the fight. Impressive performance from Hooker. 30-27.

Merab Dvalishvili def Marlon Moraes via Knockout, Round 2 (4:25)

Very fun start as Moraes takes the centre and starts throwing strikes and kicks out early. Two hard low kicks land and Merab didn’t like those, and he throws some hard hooks and goes wild. Moraes returns fire but Merab catches his leg and takes him down. Moraes gets back up quickly and separates well then lands some heavy strikes. Moraes lands a huge left hook that rocks Merab and goes for the finish! Some huge left hooks land heavy and Merab is literally running away across the cage to get away. Moraes follows him across and throws some big strikes that makes Merab stumble! Merab manages to shoot for a takedown and clinches against the cage, gets Moraes down and survives. Now he’s controlling the top position and he’s raining down punches from top position! Moraes is in big trouble but the buzzer goes! What a crazy round. I have no idea how to score it.

Merab comes out fired up for the second round and Moraes is still struggling. Merab launches forward with an overhand right that hurts Moraes immediately and he takes him down straight away. More huge ground and pound strikes from Merab and Moraes is in absolute agony getting pummelled. Merab keeps it going with powerful elbows and strikes and Moraes is finished. This fight could be stopped at any moment. Merab keeps going with punishing strikes and the referee FINALLY steps in. What a performance from Merab!

MAIN CARD

Jessica Andrade def Cynthia Calvillo via Knockout, Round 1 (4:54)

Patient start from Andrade who takes the centre and immediately starts walking Calvillo down against the cage. Calvillo throws a few jabs out there and some kicks, then Andrade counters with a stiff right hand that wobbles Calvillo. Calvillo firing back with some jabs and nice strikes, but Andrade is eating them and answering back with powerful shots of her own and Calvillo is feeling them. Another clean right hand from Calvillo, but Andrade lands some chopping low kicks and follows up with some short right hands. Calvillo is landing good strikes but the power behind them is lacking. Andrade charges forward and lands some big right hands clean, then follows it with an uppercut that hurts Calvillo! Andrade goes for the finish and lands several strikes to the head and the referee steps in with five seconds to go in the round to end the fight! Big win from Andrade!

Curtis Blaydes def Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Fun start to the fight as Blaydes takes the centre quickly and starts flicking out a jab. Rozenstruik immediately gets a left hand off to let Blaydes know he’s there, but Blaydes is showing lots of movement and bouncing around. Blaydes changes levels and gets the takedown with ease early on, and starts working for position with some good ground and pound strikes. Rozenstruik gets back to his feet slowly but then gets back to striking range. Blaydes has a speed advantage it seems so far and is dictating the pace of the fight with his jabs. Blaydes lands a hard low kick and Rozenstruik responds with a wild hook that hits Blaydes’ back as he turns away to escape. Round ends with a short exchange. 10-9 Blaydes.

Rozenstruik comes forward with a nice left hand early on but Blaydes back to using his jab and dictating the pace of the fight. Rozenstruik explodes with a combination but gets nowhere near Blaydes, who is just popping the jab and throwing out low kicks. Blaydes goes for a takedown but missed it and Rozenstruik just missed with an uppercut. Not much action in this round as we enter the final 90 seconds. Rozenstruik goes for a huge flying knee that connects and then lands a big one-two on Blaydes! Blaydes immediately changes levels and gets a takedown, then advances straight to half-guard to start opening some ground and pound and end the round. 20-18 Blaydes.

Final round and Blaydes keeping calm on the feet and dictating the range once again with his jab. A couple of low kicks and Rozenstruik comes back with a right hand that just misses. Blaydes lands two nice jabs and a left straight, then changes levels and secures the takedown once again. Rozenstruik tries to kick Blaydes off him, but Blaydes stays calm and goes straight back to the ground and lands some big ground and pound elbows. Blaydes dominating position from the top as Rozenstruik just can’t get up and the round comes to an end. Comfortable decision win for Blaydes here. 30-27.

Robbie Lawler def Nick Diaz via Knockout, Round 3 (0:44)

Fast start to the fight from Lawler as he comes forward and immediately starts throwing bombs and body shots to Diaz. Lawler much faster and looks much more physically strong, but Diaz throwing some nice combos down the middle too. Lawler still coming forward and trying to chop the legs but Diaz starting to land more strikes now. Diaz stringing together some beautiful combinations but Lawler eating them well and coming forward with some shots of his own. Some big body shots from Diaz landing but Lawler looks a lot more powerful. Could argue a 10-9 either way, but I’d go Diaz.

Fast start again from Lawler in the second round as he comes forward and looks to impose himself on Diaz. Nice elbow lands from Lawler and then a big body kick lands that hurts Diaz! Diaz steps away and Lawler throws a big leg kick, but Diaz responds again with some more beautiful boxing combinations including four left uppercuts in a row. Lawler goes back to the body and Diaz steps away again, but Lawler is right on top of him and in his face. Diaz not fading at all though and landing lots of strikes, although there isn’t much behind them. Lawler lands his left hand well and is hunting Diaz down, but eats a body kick. Diaz lands a big right hand but Lawler eats it and comes forward again with some more body work that has Diaz looking to move away as the round ends. 19-19.

Third round and Lawler coming out aggressive once again, pushing Diaz to the cage and throwing big bombs. Lawler lands a big body shot and follows it up with a big right hook that hurts Diaz! Diaz goes down to one knee, Lawler smashes him again on the chin and he falls to his back. Lawler tells him to get up and Diaz says he can’t continue so this one is over! Wow!

Valentina Shevchenko def Lauren Murphy via Knockout, Round 4 (4:00)

Tense start from both ladies in this one, with both women just feeling each other out for the opening minute. Shevchenko lands a nice body kick and then just misses with a left hand. Shevchenko goes for another kick and Murphy catches it and looks to clinch, but Shevchenko steps away and lands a right hand on the break. Shevchenko looking to land hard with her left hand but just missing, before a nice right hand and low kick combo followed by a spinning side kick to the body. Left hand followed by a low kick again by Shevchenko before a big right hand starts some swelling on Murphy’s eye. Head kick from Shevchenko lands, followed by a right hand and a takedown to close out the round. Dominant from the champ, 10-9.

More of the same to start the second round from Shevchenko as she starts to dominate the striking exchanges again. Shevchenko goes to engage in a takedown but Murphy reverses it and tries to get a takedown of her own, only for the champion to deny it and step away with a big left hand. Counter right hook from Shevchenko lands again before a solid body kick and another takedown from the champion. Shevchenko laying in half-guard and controlling the position for now, with Murphy just holding on to try and avoid too much damage. Shevchenko lands some big elbows from the top as the round comes to an end. 20-18.

Shevchenko dominant again, landing her left hand and counter right hook at will essentially. Nasty body kick again and a spinning heel kick just misses. Shevchenko controlling every aspect of the fight so far, Murphy can’t get near her at all. Superman punch lands from the champion followed by a one-two and leg-kick combination again. At this point Murphy is just surviving and Shevchenko is having her way in a very one-sided affair. Murphy goes for a strike but Shevchenko changes levels and clinches against the cage to see out the round. 30-27.

Murphy trying to come forward a bit more but Shevchenko is just completely in control. Little slip from Shevchenko gets the crowd excited but she hops up and lands a big left hand down the pipe of Murphy. More kicks from Shevchenko as she starts upping the pressure a bit, and lands a nasty front kick to the face. Shevchenko lands a check right hook that wobbles Murphy and then a big head kick followed by a street-fighter like combo of strikes to the face as she goes for the finish! Murphy is still standing somehow and Shevchenko takes her down and starts looking for ground and pound with some nasty elbows and the referee steps in and ends it! As one-sided as they come!

Alexander Volkanovski def Brian Ortega via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)

Patient start from both guys as Volkanovski takes the centre of the cage and both guys flick out some jabs. Volkanovski lands a beautiful right hand but it’s countered by Ortega who lands one of his own. Volkanovski lands another right hand over the top which opens up a small cut above his eye. Ortega looking to step in with some jabs but Volkanovski keeping distance really well and then he landed a nice flush jab and big right hand too. Ortega lands a nice jab that opens up a small gash under Volkanovski’s eye, before slipping out of the way of two big strikes from the champion. Volkanovski stepping forward and starting to up the pace, but Ortega lands a nice counter left hand that wobbles Volkanovski. Jab from Ortega who then catches a kick and lands another left to close the round. Tough to score, but I’d go 10-9 Volk.

Very even fight so far as both men go blow for blow early in the second round. Ortega landing his jab well and the left hand behind it is landing on occasion too, while Volkanovski is closing the distance well and lands a big right hand clean himself. Volk throwing some leg kicks and Ortega fakes one in return but goes high instead and just misses. Volk steps in and throws some wild hooks and a big elbow, before looking to clinch up but Ortega immediately separates from him. Nice right hook from Ortega sends Volkanovski backwards but he responds with a heavy leg kick again. Volkanovski comes forward with a good combo but Ortega just staying at enough distance to not catch it flush. 20-18 Volkanovski.

Volkanovski starting well in this round and being a bit more aggressive with his striking and low kicks. Big right hand lands flush and Ortega eats it, then Volkanovski goes in for another but misses and they clash heads. Ortega looks unsteady and Volkanovski chopping at the leg, but Ortega fires back with a big combination that just misses. Volkanovski throws a leg kick that Ortega catches and he fires a left hand down the pipe that drops him! He jumps on a mounted guillotine and it’s tightttt but Volkanovski refuses to tap out! He pops his head out and escapes and gets back on top and starts landing bombs on an exhausted Ortega! Ortega throws up a triangle and locks it in and it’s tight again! Volkanovski once again refuses to tap and he pops out again and then gets back on top and rains down punches again but the buzzer goes! What a round!

The doctor allows Ortega to continue after a check and Volkanovski comes out hunting for him. Some big right hands land again and then Ortega goes for a takedown out of exhaustion. He trips Volkanovski and gets him down and looks for a guillotine again, but Volkanovski is safe and gets back on top to start raining down more ground and pound. Volkanovski is beating him up badly on the ground but Ortega is doing just enough to survive. Volkanovski lets him get back up but just misses with some big strikes as the round ends. 40-35 at a minimum to the champion.

Final round and Volkanovski staying patient in the centre again, but Ortega is in there giving it his all. Ortega goes for a takedown but Volkanovski defends it easy and lands a big right elbow. Ortega is coming forward with strikes and Volkanovski is backing up now, before Ortega lands a one-two and Volkanovski responds with a huge right hook. Big one-two from Ortega gets a nod of approval from Volkanovski. Both guys trading in the centre of the octagon as we enter the final minute of the fight. Ortega catches a kick and goes for a knee but misses. Final seconds and Ortega lands some huge strikes but Volkanovski is still standing as the buzzer goes and it’s all over. What a fight. Big win for the champion.

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Main card predictions

An absolutely stacked UFC card heads to Las Vegas this weekend as UFC 266 hosts two title fights and a huge return to the sport.

Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will finally meet for the featherweight title in their rescheduled fight from UFC 260, with ‘T-City’ looking to fulfil his destiny of becoming the top dog at 145lbs.

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko looks to continue on her path as one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever when she defends her flyweight crown for a sixth time against Lauren Murphy before the return of Nick Diaz to the UFC when he takes on Robbie Lawler and hopes to start something special with a win.

Last week at UFC Vegas 37 we went 9/13 with one perfect pick, moving us up to 411/646 (63.62%) with 178 perfect picks (43.31%). We’ll look to add to that and improve and after predicting the early prelims here and the rest of the prelims here, we move on to the main card now.


Jessica Andrade (21-9) vs Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fight at the top end of the women’s flyweight division opens up the main card here. Andrade is coming off the back of her nasty defeat against champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 261, while Calvillo also lost her last fight against Kaitlyn Chookagian at UFC 255 last time out.

Andrade is a powerful wrestler who slams almost all her opponents at some point, and also has good striking to work her way inside too. Calvillo is a good wrestler in her own right, with some decent striking but plenty of control in the top position. Andrade seems to have found her best weight class now as has Calvillo and this is the type of fight that would usually determine a title contender.

Andrade has shown some cardio issues in the past, while Calvillo has gone a full five rounds before and still looked fresh. Her issues against Chookagian were more distance related than anything else and she won’t have those problems against the 5ft 1 Andrade. Andrade however is the more powerful fighter and when it comes to grappling I think she has the advantage too so I expect her to claim the win.
PICK – Jessica Andrade via Decision
BETTING TIP – Fight to go the distance @ 5/6 (Bet365)

Curtis Blaydes (14-3) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-2) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A huge heavyweight contender fight between two guys looking to work their way towards title contention. Blaydes was on a tear until he ran into Derrick Lewis and got flattened at UFC Vegas 19, while Rozenstruik bounced back from a beating by Ciryl Gane to earn a KO win over Augusto Sakai last time out at UFC Vegas 28.

Blaydes’ style is the same in every fight and your chances of winning against him stand on whether or not you can stop his takedowns. He shoots in with power, holds you down in position and rains down huge elbows until you can’t take it anymore. Rozenstruik on the other hand is a kickboxer with legitimate one-punch power, just like Lewis had. Rozenstruik’s wrestling defence isn’t the best, but he can learn a lot from Blaydes’ last fight of how to defend the takedowns with his striking.

It comes down to whether or not Blaydes can land the takedown without having his lights turned out again, and I think he’ll correct his issues and blast double-leg his way to a unanimous decision win.
PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Decision
BETTING TIP – Blaydes via Decision @ 11/5 (Bet365)

Nick Diaz (26-9) vs Robbie Lawler (28-15) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Arguably the most anticipated fight on the card as Diaz makes his return after six years away to take on old rival ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler. These two met all the way back in 2004, with Diaz earning a KO win in the second round. Lawler is on a big decline right now, losing each of his last four fights with the most recent coming against Neil Magny at UFC Vegas 8.

Diaz is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt with brilliant boxing and one of the deepest gas tanks in MMA, while Lawler is a powerful wrestler with a solid overhand left that can put people to sleep. This is an incredibly tough fight to call because we have no idea what Diaz has been up to in the gym for the last six years. We don’t know how he’ll react in the cage after so long away or how he’ll look in action.

The fans will be behind him, because they always are, and he has a knockout win against Lawler on his CV already. On the ground we know how talented he is, but Lawler has been far more active since and has the wrestling edge. It’s due to be a wild fight and it’s a guess either way, but I have to go with Diaz to make the perfect return.
PICK – Nick Diaz via Decision

Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) vs Lauren Murphy (15-4) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

The first title fight of the night sees the ever-dominant Shevchenko take on the veteran Murphy in the co-main event. ‘Bullet’ has won seven in a row, with her only UFC defeats coming in razor close decisions to Amanda Nunes. Her last fight was a violent KO over Jessica Andrade at UFC 261. Murphy on the other hand is on a five-fight win streak, with her most recent win coming against Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263.

Shevchenko is an entirely complete MMA fighter with stunning striking, grappling and submission skills to go with excellent defence and a second-to-none fight IQ. Murphy is a boxer by trade with some good kickboxing skills too and some good clinch work with good grappling skills on the ground where necessary. Unfortunately for her, she’s just not on the same level as Shevchenko.

No matter where this fight goes, Shevchenko wins. It’s that simple. Unless something absolutely crazy happens, Shevchenko can pretty much pick how she wins this fight and I think she’ll use her striking to come out on top this time.
PICK – Valentina Shevchenko via Knockout, Round 3

Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) vs Brian Ortega (15-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

When the main event has the potential to be the fight of the night, you know it’s a good one. The featherweight title is on the line as Volkanovski looks to make it 20 wins in a row and 10-0 in the UFC, after wins over Chad Mendes, Jose Aldo and Max Holloway twice in his most recent bouts. Ortega took two years out after losing to Holloway and returned with a stunning performance against Korean Zombie at UFC Fight Island 6 to earn his title shot.

Volkanovski is a brilliant all-rounder, with powerful strikes in his hands and some top-tier wrestling to allow him to decide where the fight goes. Ortega is a submission specialist with other-worldly jiu-jitsu skills but the performance against TKZ showed that he has upped his striking to a whole new level too. His jab is sharp, he has good combinations and mixes in takedowns well too. Volkanovski will have to deal with that striking threat in a different way to how he did with Holloway, because the ground is Ortega’s world.

Overall, this is a super close fight and I won’t be surprised by whoever wins this fight. Ultimately though, I back Volkanovski to retain his title. He is able to mix it up well and his game-planning has been great in the past. He has the more well-rounded skillset for me and I think he’s physically stronger, so he’ll claim the close win.
PICK – Alexander Volkanovski via Decision

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Prelims predictions

An absolutely stacked UFC card heads to Las Vegas this weekend as UFC 266 hosts two title fights and a huge return to the sport.

Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will finally meet for the featherweight title in their rescheduled fight from UFC 260, with ‘T-City’ looking to fulfil his destiny of becoming the top dog at 145lbs.

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko looks to continue on her path as one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever when she defends her flyweight crown for a sixth time against Lauren Murphy before the return of Nick Diaz to the UFC when he takes on Robbie Lawler and hopes to start something special with a win.

Last week at UFC Vegas 37 we went 9/13 with one perfect pick, moving us up to 411/646 (63.62%) with 178 perfect picks (43.31%). We’ll look to add to that and improve and after starting with the early prelims here, we’ll make our picks for the rest of the prelims now.


Roxanne Modafferi (25-19) vs Taila Santos (17-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A fun flyweight fight to open the prelims here as the experienced Modafferi takes on the mightily impressive Santos. Modafferi is often seen as as litmus test in the UFC, alternating wins and losses all the way through her UFC career since December 2017. She lost most recently against Viviane Araujo at UFC Fight Island 8 via unanimous decision. Taila Santos on the other hand has been on a tear in the UFC dominating Molly McCann and Gillian Robertson most recently at UFC Vegas 17.

Modafferi is a terrible striker but is a good grappler and has so much heart that she almost never gets finished, while Santos is a super powerful striker and grappler herself who will be a very tough test for the veteran. Santos has really powerful hands and has dominated her last two opponents with wrestling and jiu-jitsu, but she’ll likely look to keep this on the feet as much as possible.

Unfortunately for Modafferi, it’s tough to see her getting a win here. She’s out-gunned everywhere and while she might not get finished, Santos should dominate once again.
PICK – Taila Santos via Decision

Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-5) vs Chris Daukaus (11-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

Two top ten heavyweights go head-to-head in this one as the big boys come out to play. Abdurakhminov hasn’t fought since a defeat in 2019 to Curtis Blaydes but is still ranked at number 7, while Daukaus has three first-round finish wins in a row in the UFC with a KO over Alexei Oleinik last time out at UFC Vegas 19.

Daukaus is a slightly smaller heavyweight with lightning quick hands, great power and brilliant jiu-jitsu on the ground that he hasn’t had to show so far. Abdurakhminov is a talented wrestler with great ground and pound, but he’s also a good striker in his own right too. Daukaus for me has the speed advantage and the grappling advantage though, which makes this tough for Abdurakhimov.

Better hand speed, better submission skills and better cardio, it’s hard to look past Daukaus earning the W.
PICK – Chris Daukaus via Knockout, Round 1
BETTING TIP – Daukaus win via Sub/KO/DQ @ 11/10 (Bet365)

Dan Hooker (20-10) vs Nasrat Haqparast (13-3) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

Potentially the fight of the night in the lightweight division here between two guys who have had crazy fight weeks. Visa issues nearly called this one off, but the fight is on and Hooker is looking to snap a two-fight skid after defeats to Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler most recently at UFC 257. Haqparast has won his last two, including most recently against Rafa Garcia at UFC Vegas 21.

Hooker is a great striker with brilliant body work, a nasty jab and great knees up the middle, while Haqparast is an excellent boxer with great jabs and some silky hooks too. Hooker’s style generally relied upon his iron chin, but he got slept last time out so that makes this a super tough fight to pick. Haqparast is a fighter who tends to put technique over power which could help Hooker, but he has got the power to put someone down.

With that said though, Hooker is a big step up in competition for Haqparast. He throws hell for leather with every strike and he has the gas tank to go all night, so I think he bounces back with a big win in one of the best fights on the card.
PICK – Dan Hooker via Knockout, Round 2

Marlon Moraes (23-8-1) vs Merab Dvalishvili (13-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

The featured prelim bout sees a striking demon with good submission skills take on a wrestling machine. Moraes has lost his last two, getting knocked out by both Cory Sandhagen and Rob Font in violent fashion last time out at UFC Vegas 17. Merab on the other hand is on a hot streak, winning six-in-a-row via unanimous decision with the most recent coming against Cody Stamann at UFC Vegas 25.

Moraes is a brilliant kickboxer with genuine knockout power in all eight of his limbs, but he has shown in the past some severe cardio issues and his durability is lacking. He comes up against a guy who has taken the wrestling crown from Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC and genuinely has the best cardio in the company. He links takedowns together brilliantly, scrambles for fun and just never tires and that will be his game plan here.

Merab will shoot for takedowns over and over again and so long as he doesn’t get caught with something big on his way in or get carried away on the ground and caught in a submission while on top, he mauls his way to another decision win.
PICK – Merab Dvalishvili via Decision
BETTING TIP – Merab Dvalishvili via Decision @ 11/10 (Bet365)

UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega – Early prelims predictions

An absolutely stacked UFC card heads to Las Vegas this weekend as UFC 266 hosts two title fights and a huge return to the sport.

Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega will finally meet for the featherweight title in their rescheduled fight from UFC 260, with ‘T-City’ looking to fulfil his destiny of becoming the top dog at 145lbs.

In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko looks to continue on her path as one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever when she defends her flyweight crown for a sixth time against Lauren Murphy before the return of Nick Diaz to the UFC when he takes on Robbie Lawler and hopes to start something special with a win.

Last week at UFC Vegas 37 we went 9/13 with one perfect pick, moving us up to 411/646 (63.62%) with 178 perfect picks (43.31%). We’ll look to add to that and improve, starting with the early prelims here.


Jonathan Pearce (10-4) vs Omar Morales (11-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A fun featherweight bout to open up between two guys with one loss each in their UFC careers so far. Pearce lost his debut to Joe Lauzon in 2019 before bouncing back with a KO win against Kai Kamaka III at UFC Vegas 15, while Morales was beaten by Giga Chikhadze at UFC Fight Island 5, but recovered to earn another win against Shane Young at UFC 260.

Pearce is a long-time wrestler who looks to push the pace and wear on opponents, with excellent ground and pound leading him to eight KO wins in ten career victories. Morales on the other hand is a technical striker with excellent low kicks and improved wrestling in recent times. Morales has good defence and rarely exerts himself too much, but he does have a tendency to cruise in fights and Pearce will look to make him uncomfortable.

On the feet Morales has the advantage but on the ground and in grappling exchanges it’s Pearce who has the edge. Stylistically I think the fight suits Pearce a little bit more because of his volume and pressure but the experience and skill of Morales will likely see him get the decision win.
PICK – Omar Morales via Decision
BETTING TIP – Over 2.5 total rounds @ 8/15 (Bet365)

Matthew Semelsberger (8-3) vs Martin Sano Jr (4-2-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Some very odd matchmaking here in the welterweight division between Semelsberger and Sano Jr. ‘Semi the Jedi’ was on a five-fight win streak before losing to Khaos Williams at UFC Vegas 29, while Sano Jr has fought three times since 2014 and hasn’t won any of them.

Semelsberger is a powerful striker with a decent bit of wrestling in his back pocket too. Sano is the main training partner of Nick Diaz and that’s why he’s on the card, not because he’s done anything to earn himself a spot on the roster. He’s got okay boxing and okay jiu-jitsu, but he’s nowhere near good enough to do anything significant to Semelsberger here.

It’s a weird fight, but thankfully the chances of it lasting a long time are slim. Semelsberger lamps him hard in the first round and pours on more damage until the referee calls it quits in the first round.
PICK – Matthew Semelsberger via Knockout, Round 1

Cody Brundage (6-1) vs Nick Maximov (6-0) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very short notice fight after Karl Roberson pulled out during fight week, the undefeated Nick Maximov now faces Cody Brundage in both men’s promotional debut. Brundage lost on Dana White’s Contender Series but bounced back with a submission win in February to get a chance here, while Maximov won on the Contender Series in November last year to earn his spot.

Brundage is a strong striker with excellent Muay-Thai skills, but he also has a good wrestling background too. Maximov however is the stronger grappler in this battle, with his style generally set around securing a takedown and controlling the position on the ground. Maximov has a great chin and some great jiu-jitsu skills too, training with the Diaz brothers.

Brundage would generally have a really good chance of winning this fight if it wasn’t on just three day’s notice. Because it is though, Maximov will be in fighting shape and his style is so wearing on an opponent that I think he’ll be able to secure a victory.
PICK – Nick Maximov via Decision

Uros Medic (7-0) vs Jalin Turner (10-5) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A fun lightweight fight to close out the early prelims as the undefeated Medic takes on the ‘The Tarantula’. Medic has a perfect record of seven wins in seven fights, winning against Aalon Cruz in the first-round last time out at UFC 259. Turner on the other hand has won his last two via finish, most recently securing a submission win against Brok Weaver at UFC Vegas 10.

Medic is a superb striker with powerful hands and strong kicks, with a real killer instinct having finished all of his career bouts. Turner is a powerful striker in his own fight, with long limbs helping him on the ground too for someone else who has finished all of his career wins. Both guys like to fight on the outside and use their range, which will play into Turner’s favour with a six-inch advantage. However, Medic’s speed and pressure is something that Turner isn’t a big fan of which makes this very interesting.

Both have the power to stop the other and while Medic isn’t the most proven fighter, he’s never lost. Turner has been stopped by strikes three times before, but he’s by far the best fighter that Medic will have ever fought. It’s a close fight no doubt and whoever wins will have earned it, but I think Medic will be able to show his talent and get a big win.
PICK – Uros Medic via Knockout, Round 2
BETTING TIP – Fight NOT to go the distance @ 8/15 (Bet365)

Nick Diaz’s return could be the start of something special

It will have been 2424 days since we’ve seen Nick Diaz in the octagon, or any type of official mixed martial arts bout for that matter, by the time UFC 266 rolls around.

The former Strikeforce welterweight champion hasn’t fought since UFC 183 in 2015, when he and Anderson Silva battled to a no-contest after both tested positive following the fight. That positive test, for marijuana, saw Diaz initially banned for five years before it was appealed and changed to 18 months.

After back and forth with the Nevada State Athletic Commission meant he couldn’t be in the corner of his brother Nate at UFC 196 and UFC 202, he is back and will fight Robbie Lawler at UFC 266 this weekend.

It’s 209 months since their first fight at UFC 247, 17 years ago. where Diaz shocked many by engaging in a stand-up war with ‘Ruthless’ and coming out victorious in a hugely impressive second-round knockout win.

Since then, their careers went on entirely different paths though. Lawler would go on to become the welterweight champion of the world, defeating Johnny Hendricks before defending the belt twice against Roy MacDonald and Carlos Condit.

Diaz eventually got cut from the UFC, before dominating in Strikeforce and then returning to the octagon, only to have a record of 1-2 1NC in his four fights against BJ Penn, Condit, Georges St-Pierre and Silva.

But in recent times, this rematch makes even more sense than it has at any point in their careers.

Nick Diaz arrives to the UFC 261 Weigh-In at at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 23, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida.

While Diaz has been away from the fight game competitively, Lawler has gone 3-5 including losing each of his last four bouts. His decline is well and truly in full flow and he’s not quite the fighter he once was, but those defeats all came to wrestlers who were able to eventually get him down and dominate him.

Diaz hasn’t been around for years, but it’s hard to imagine he will implement that tactic for the fight. He out-struck him all those years ago when he was deemed just a jiu-jitsu fighter, and his boxing only got better as the years went on.

If Diaz can claim a victory, then not only will it be a brilliant comeback story but it could be the start of something magical.

The chances of a potential title run are slim because Kamaru Usman is just that good and at the age of 38 Diaz is likely past his best, especially after missing so many years of competitive fighting. But there is great potential for some stunning fights that would get fans salivating and earn him a bucket load of cash.

The obvious shout would be against Jorge Masvidal, who beat up his little brother in the main event of UFC 242 to claim the BMF title. There were rumours back then of a potential fight between the two but now it could be a reality, and fans would absolutely eat it up.

Considering this fight will now be taking place at middleweight, there are options there too. Darren Till needs a fight after a second straight defeat and the trash talk that would take place beforehand would no doubt be legendary.

Diaz is a superstar, and he was one way before the sport of MMA took off the way it did in the last decade. He’s one of the most popular fighters of all time and his return is making waves as expected. A win only opens up more possibilities for him and the UFC to make waves across the world.

Can Brian Ortega fulfil his destiny and become featherweight champion?

It’s been a long time coming but Brian Ortega has the chance to fulfil his destiny and become the king of the featherweight division this weekend at UFC 266.

A long awaited title fight between Ortega and defending champion Alexander Volkanovski will headline the card in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena, six months after their initial bout was cancelled due to a positive COVID test.

But the six month delay has only added to the idea of destiny in T-City’s mind and it’s difficult to argue against his thought process.

When Ortega last had a title shot, he went into the fight against Max Holloway as the favourite. In December 2018, Ortega was an undefeated phenom with submissions and knockouts scattered throughout his fight resumΓ©.

But as he found out in that fight, there was a very big difference in skill level between himself and the champion at the time.

Ortega was pummelled for four full rounds, with the Hawaiian boxing his face off. It was so bad that not only did Holloway talk to him throughout the fight, ‘Blessed’ also helped him block strikes in the cage and then even called the finish before the round in which the doctor eventually called a halt to the bout.

He took almost two years out to hone his skillset after that, mastering his craft and becoming a much more polished striker.

He took on The Korean Zombie on Fight Island a year ago and while many expected him to try and get his opponent to the ground, with a significant striking advantage for Jung. However instead what was transpired was a boxing masterclass from Ortega on the night and a dominant decision win.

It showed that in those two years away that the work he had been doing was justified. With Volkanovski holding two wins over Holloway, albeit one is controversial, Ortega now is the man who is seemingly the biggest threat to his throne.

Volkanovski’s best moments in the UFC have come with his ground game, using his wrestling to dominate opponents and his striking to do damage. But if he takes the fight to the ground against Ortega he’s entering a world of danger and with Ortega’s improved striking, Holloway might be the only guy that can out-box him.

Many tipped Ortega as a future champion when he broke into the scene but his first chance came too early against one of the greatest of all-time. UFC 266 may be the perfect moment for him to fulfil his destiny and become the best in the world.

UFC 266: Two title fights and major return announced for September

The UFC have announced three huge fights for UFC 266 in September, including two huge title fights and the return of Nick Diaz.

Diaz, the older brother of fan favourite Nate, hasn’t fought since January 2015 when he took on the legendary Anderson Silva in the main event at UFC 183 in the Brazilian’s first fight back after breaking his leg against Chris Weidman.

We will also see Alexander Volkanovski finally defend his UFC featherweight title against Brian Ortega after their initial bout was cancelled in March when the champion tested positive for COVID-19 the week before the fight. Valentina Shevchenko will also defend her flyweight title, taking on Lauren Murphy in the co-main event.

Diaz’s fight against Silva initially ended with the former middleweight champion earning a decision win, but both men tested positive after the fight and were hit with USADA bans with the result overturned to a no contest.

Diaz was initially banned for five years for marijuana use, but upon appeal saw that reduce to 18 months. He has also served suspensions in that time for unpaid fines to the Nevada State Athletic Commission as well as for failure to report his whereabouts.

He and Lawler fought back at UFC 47 back in 2004, with Diaz winning via second round knockout. Lawler went on to become the reigning welterweight champion during his UFC career but is currently on a four-fight losing streak after defeats to Rafael Dos Anjos, Ben Askren, Colby Covington and most recently Neil Magny.

The fight will not be a main event but will be five rounds, just like his brother Nate’s bout against Leon Edwards at UFC 263 last month.

In the main event, Volkanovski looks to continue his unbeaten run in the UFC when he takes on ‘T-City’ Ortega in a featherweight title fight.

Once their March bout collapsed, both fighters agreed to take part in the new season of The Ultimate Fighter as coaches. The series finale is currently set for some time in August.

Volkanovski is coming off back-to-back decision wins over Max Holloway where he won the belt then defended it for the first time at UFC 251, while Ortega dismantled The Korean Zombie at UFC Fight Island 6 to earn himself a title shot.

As for Shevchenko, she has cemented herself as the most dominant women’s flyweight of all time and has defended her title five times including most recently against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 and then Jessica Andrade at UFC 261.

She will take on Lauren Murphy, who has worked her way up the rankings and put together a five-fight win streak with victories over Mara Romero Borella, Andrea Lee, Roxanne Modafferri at UFC Vegas 3, Liliya Shakirova at UFC 254 and Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263.

The card will take place on September 25th from Las Vegas, Nevada at the T-Mobile Arena.

Jan Blachowicz to defend light heavyweight title against Glover Teixeira at UFC 266

The light heavyweight division will continue to move in 2021 after it was announced that Jan Blachowicz will defend his title against Glover Teixeira at UFC 266 in September.

The 38-year-old champion won the belt for the first time in his career with a knockout win over Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 last September after Jon Jones vacated the title to move up to heavyweight.

He then made history in the first defence of his crown at UFC 259 in March, becoming the first man to defeat Israel Adesanya as the middleweight champion moved up to 205lbs to try and become a simultaneous champion.

Adesanya opted to move up after clearing out the 185lbs division, which meant that Brazilian veteran Teixeira was forced to wait for his chance at the title.

Teixeira is 41-years-old now but is currently enjoying a big five-fight win streak since 2019 including a knockout win over former title contenders Anthony Smith and then most recently a submission win over Thiago Santos at UFC Vegas 13.

He previously fought for the title in 2014 against Jon Jones, but was dominated to a five-round decision defeat at UFC 172.

Both men had expressed an interest in fighting each other prior to the Adesanya bout rearing it’s head and after Blachowicz secured the huge win and it became clear that Jones has no interest in returning to light heavyweight, this was the obvious fight to make on both sides.

Blachowicz has shown a well-rounded game during this five-fight win streak of his own, with three of those wins coming via knockout to add to his nine career submission wins before that. He has shown an excellent fight IQ to mix up his attacks and has proven that he is a more than credible threat and a legitimate champion.

For Teixeira, he’s turned his game on its head recently. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert, Glover had previously been known more for his brilliant boxing ability. But three of his last five wins have come via submission and he will need to mix up his game for this upcoming title fight in September to get the better of the legendary Polish power.