The UFC’s relentless expansion to near-weekly events may leave longtime fans yearning for the day when a mere handful of shows meant every card was loaded with world-class talent.
UFC 266 feels like one of those flashback nights.
Saturday night’s pay-per-view event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas not only features a pair of top-billing title fights, but one of the most anticipated revenge in arts history mixed martial arts.
The event is topped by a featherweight title fight, as Australian Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) puts his belt on the line against Torrance, Californian Brian Ortega (15-1).
Volkanovski will make his second title defense and also put a 19-game winning streak on the line. Ortega is 7-1 in the UFC, his only flaw being a challenge against then-champion Max Holloway in December 2018.
With both preferring the uncompromising, high-volume approach, it seems to come down to a battle of wills.
The co-featured bout is a clash for the women’s flyweight title. Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) of Kyrgyzstan and Las Vegas has reached the point in her career where her dominance is the draw, and it’s news if someone makes her sweat. Her opponent in her sixth title defense is Lauren Murphy (15-4) of Houston, a courageous underdog who overcomes a five-game winning streak in her big opportunity.
This is all preceded by a 17-year-old fight, as legendary Nick Diaz (26-9) of Stockton, Calif., Returns from an absence of nearly seven years to face the former welterweight champion of the UFC Robbie Lawler (28-15) of Coconut Creek, Fla. In a middleweight bout.
At UFC 47 in 2004, Lawler was billed as a future star, but the then unrecognized Diaz placed him facing a memorable knockout in the second round. Diaz went on to become one of the game’s biggest stars, while Lawler left the UFC before returning years later and eventually becoming the champion in 2014.
–Field level media