A Preview of UFC 266: Diaz vs Lawler, Shevchenko vs Murphy, Blaydes vs Rozenstruik, Ortega vs Volkanovski
It’s September already, and the stage is almost set for the ultra-hard warriors of the UFC 266 line up to step into the Octagon. The date: Saturday, September 25th. The time: 8 pm EDT sharp. The venue: T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is an arrangement out of which no one will be opting. At the event, two championship belts will go on the line, and the organization will also welcome back the fan-favorite but highly contentious Nick Diaz. Below is a look at what’s coming up and what might go one once that bell goes.
The return of Nick Diaz
Fans will be welcoming Stockton slugger Nick Diaz back to the cage. Just as eager to see him will be his opponent, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler in their welterweight matchup, although the reception won’t be quite as warm as the fans give him.
The years may have gone by since Diaz knocked out “Ruthless” in 2004 at UFC 47, but Lawler will still be wanting to spoil the party, ideally with a knockout, and put an end to his own four-fight losing streak. His hands are heavy, he’s also the former Welterweight champion and the UFC 266 odds from the sportsbooks place him as the favorite at around -120, so it could happen.
Ladies’ flyweight title on the line
“Bullet” Valentina Shevchenko has fought some tough competitors, such as Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Eye, Holly Holm and Jessica Andrade, and some are saying Amanda Nunes is the one to beat. Before that, she must get past “Lucky” Lauren Murphy in their flyweight title bout and co-main event of the evening. Murphy, a mixed martial artist from Anchorage, has a habit of winning decisions, but she’ll have to throw everything at Shevchenko if she’s to take her belt away. This one is all or nothing.
Ladies mixing it again in the flyweight division
While Shevchenko and Murphy gear themselves up for their clash, fellow flyweights will be squaring off in their own battle. Former Strawweight champion Jessica Andrade goes up against Cynthia Calvillo, and both fighters will be looking to shake off losses from their previous fights and get their hand raised again.
Andrade boasts a higher knockout/technical knockout percentage and stronger grappling, according to the stats, but Calvillo possesses a more stubborn takedown defense and has more experience of longer matchups. This could prove vital.
Heavyweight clash between Blades and Rozenstruik
If you’ve been visiting the website of BJ Penn, you’ll have seen that Curtis Blaydes doesn’t seem to think a great deal of his heavyweight division opponent Jairzinho “Bigi Boy” Rozenstruik.
It’s an opinion he may live to regret expressing. Big heavyweight names such as Alastair Overeem, Andrei Arlovski and Junior Dos Santos have all fallen to Rozenstruik during his UFC career. Rozenstruik also stopped his last opponent, Augusto Sakai, in the first round, at UFC Fight Night.
Blaydes is athletic, has solid wrestling and has much improved his striking game. He’ll have to call upon all these attributes to back up his opinions. Will you be tuning in to see if Rozenstruik has Blaydes eating his own words?
The clash of the coaches: Volkanovski and Ortega battle for the men’s featherweight title
In the final event of the evening, Brian “T City” Ortega will challenge the men’s Featherweight champion, Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski in an exceptionally juicy clash. Not only is the title up for discussion the hard way in this event, but the fight also serves as the matchup between coaches following this season’s “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Ortega’s road to championship contention
Both men have triumphed over some difficult opponents on their journey to this title fight. Fighters who have fallen to Ortega on the way have included former Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, the über-tough Clay Guida and “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Yung, the victory in this last fight breaking the spirit of Sung Yung.
One opponent who “T City” hasn’t been able to get the better of has been Max Holloway, however. After what was mostly a standing battle at UFC 231, a doctor waved off the fight at the start of the fifth round, due to the damage on Ortega’s face. It was a dominant performance by Holloway, who peppered Ortega with punches and prevented the jiu jitsu man from really getting going.
… and Volkanovski’s
Right now, Volkanovski is on an impressive 19-fight winning streak. He won’t be wanting to surrender that for anybody.
Unlike Ortega, however, he has been able to get the better of Holloway… twice. This is a psychological edge he may carry into the Octagon with him. “The Great” has been reported online as feeling he could break Ortega in their matchup… the same way Holloway did.
The second victory was by split decision, though, and Ortega may feel he’s the one who has the edge, knowing that Volkanovski has been leaving room for doubt over his performance recently, rather than stamping his authority on the fight and providing a clear-cut winner.
The UFC 266 is on its way, and the fighters will be training immensely hard and making final preparations for their showdown. Titles could change hands, fans will see the return of an old favorite, and they could even see a fighter take revenge. UFC 266 is going to be a memorable event.