Bet of the Card: (2.5u) Alexander Volkanovski Moneyline @ -170 (to Return 3.971 Units)
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega
Main Event – UFC Featherweight (145lbs) Championship Bout – Approx. Start Time: 00:45 a.m. EST.
- Alexander Volkanovski has out-landed all of his opponents across his 9 UFC bouts (per UFCStats.com).
- Brian Ortega absorbed 290 strikes from Max Holloway in their fight (over the course of 4 rounds), which is 54 greater than the number Holloway landed on Volkanovski during the 10 rounds in which they fought (per UFCStats.com).
Alexander Volkanovski is a ridiculously well-rounded fighter. He’s not a fan favorite, largely due to his controversial win in his rematch with Max Holloway, but also because of his sublime risk-adverse fight IQ. That’s not to say that he doesn’t get into the odd frantic spot, but more generally speaking, he’s a guy that will search for the path of least resistance against his opponent and follow the optimal gameplan to a tee.
Brian “T-City” Ortega (pictured below) was once considered to be a fairly one-dimensional submission specialist. He then showed us he was capable of producing hellacious knockouts over notoriously durable guys in Clay Guida and Frankie Edgar. And, most recently he tore up the blueprints we all thought we had on him, and showed us that he was able to put on a 25-minute evasive striking masterclass against “The Korean Zombie” (TKZ), Chan Sung Jung. Now, I’m a firm believer in needing to see repeat performances out of fighters before I can truly believe that they have “evolved”, and are able to continually reproduce these performances. However, I think even if we got another showing of “Ortega 2.0” (the one that fought TKZ), that he would still get beaten by Volkanovski (Volk) at a high clip.
For starters, Volk tends to throw with more volume, at a higher speed, and with great efficiency. He may be giving up 2-inches in height, but he will benefit from a 2-inch reach advantage, and he’s proven he can contend at range with someone who absolutely destroyed Ortega on the feet, in Max Holloway. Volk’s wrestling, although not faultless (72% takedown defense), should be enough to stop the fairly unimpressive takedowns of Ortega (21% takedown accuracy) (per UFCStats.com).
I see Volk controlling the range and pace in the striking, landing the more shot, whilst dictating where the fight takes place with his better wrestling and greater physicality. His fight IQ will serve him well in keeping ground fighting to a minimum, in the pursuit of avoiding Ortega’s elite submission game, and should he do so successfully, I see him edging his way to winning 3, 4, or even all 5 rounds. Ortega may have more tricks up his sleeve than in the TKZ fight, and he’s proven that he can finish a fight in an instant, but given what we’ve seen from Volkanovski in regard to his fighting ability and chin, he looks to be good money in this spot to get the W.
(2u) Robbie Lawler Moneyline @ -110 (to Return 3.818 Units)
(0.5u) Robbie Lawler via KO/TKO, Submission, or DQ @ +275 (to Return 1.875 Units)
(0.5u) Robbie Lawler to Win in Round 1 @ +1000 (to Return 5.5 Units)
Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz 2
Main Card – Five Round Welterweight (170lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 11:15 p.m. EST.
- Nick Diaz hasn’t fought in over 6.5 years, and he hasn’t won a fight in almost a decade (the last being on October 29th, 2011 – vs. B.J. Penn).
- Despite being on a 1-4 run since losing his UFC Welterweight title in mid-2016, Robbie Lawler has still been facing the top contenders, and he’s fought to a decision in 3 of his 4 losing efforts.
This fight may sit third from top on Saturday’s billing, but there’s no mistaking that this is the most anticipated fight for hardcore and casual fans alike.
I see many people stating that this fight is rightly lined as a coinflip, or pick’em, but in my eyes, that’s only if Nick Diaz is able to fight to 75% of his former self. I mean this with the highest of respect, as the Diaz’s are as tough and as game as they come, but given that we haven’t seen him fight in a professional setting in such a long time, it’s impossible to say that we can truly bank on him putting up any kind of performance.
Robbie Lawler, on the other hand, has remained somewhat active since Diaz’s departure from MMA, and although he hasn’t produced results, we’ve seen him stand-up to ranked opposition, and lose fights without getting finished. I’m well aware that this isn’t the most convincing case for Lawler in this fight, but what I’m trying to say is, we know what his floor is, and we know what the bare minimum we can expect from him is – to use his functional skillset, to come into the bout in fighting shape, and to be able to withstand a decent amount of damage. His upside isn’t so clear, as we haven’t seen his murderous power in a long time, but the same can be applied to every aspect of Diaz’s game.
Does Diaz still have his legendary chin? Is his grappling still at a super high level? And is his boxing still crisp? No one, at least outside of his gym, can really say for sure on any of these, and saying otherwise would require blind faith. One thing you can count on, is that his cardio should be there. There’s numerous stories about his participation in triathlons and endurance-based challenges since stepping away from the cage, and that should serve him incredibly well, even if it isn’t directly translatable to the kind of fatigue caused by fighting.
All in all, Diaz could come out and look incredible, his boxing could be tight, his ground game could be slick, and his cardio and pressure could look like it will break most men. But, with the length of time he’s been away, combined with his mostly-lackluster performances within the UFC (all those years ago), it’s exceptionally hard to have any faith on him to get the job done. The five rounds does unquestionably give Diaz some added upside due to his conditioning, but outside of that, I don’t see a whole lot to buy into. I actually think someone could offer me +175/+200 on Nick Diaz in this spot (that I wasn’t allowed to profitably hedge out of), and I still wouldn’t take it, purely because of the intangibles that surround him. So, with that in consideration, I should be betting Robbie Lawler at a near-even money, just out of principle. And that’s what I’m going to do, and for multiple units. I understand the risks involved with such a volatile fight between aged legends of the sport, but I see value in those uncertainties, and I’m not one to shy away from that.
(2u) Fight Goes The Distance @ +120 (to Return 4.4 Units)
Preliminary Card – Women’s Flyweight (125lbs) Bout – Approx. Start Time: 7:20 p.m. EST.
- Neither fighter has been finished in their combined 17 pro bouts (per Tapology.com).
This would generally be a spot where you’ll hear me come out and look to fade the extremely hyped and fairly untested prospect in Manon Fiorot. However, I actually think she could be the real deal, at least in terms of the current crop of flyweight contenders. That said, the line on this fight going the distance seems pretty ridiculous, and completely unwarranted. Sure, Fiorot may have put away both of her first competitors in the UFC, but neither were expected to compete with her on the feet, and Victoria Leonardo specifically, wasn’t considered the most capable of taking shots.
Mayra Bueno Silva is known mostly for her submission skills, but should she be unable to implement her grappling game, at least to its fullest effect, then she more than likely will be left to battle it out on the feet with Fiorot. In that situation, she should get out-worked, but I haven’t seen enough from Fiorot to think that she can just steamroll through her and get the finish.
I understand why the “fight goes the distance” prop is plus-money, due to one fighter being superior on the ground, and the other having shown a propensity to get finishes standing, but I trust in both fighters’ ability to withstand each other’s offense more often than not, and in doing so, get the fight to the scorecards.
Scroll down to view event details, odds & Christian’s full card predictions.
Event: UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega / Volk vs. Ortega / UFC 266: Lawler vs. Diaz 2 / #UFC266
Location & Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Date: Saturday, September 25th, 2021
Start time: Main Card: 10 p.m. EST, Prelims 8 p.m. EST. Early Prelims 6 p.m. EST.
Where to watch: Main Card on PPV, Prelims on ESPN/ESPN+, Early Prelims on ESPN+
UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega Full Fight Card Predictions
UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega Main Event Prediction
Featherweight (145lbs): Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega – Volkanovski via Decision
UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega Main Card Predictions
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy – Shevchenko via KO/TKO
Welterweight (170lbs): Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz – Lawler via KO/TKO
Heavyweight (265lbs): Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik – Blaydes via KO/TKO
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Jéssica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo – Andrade via Decision
UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega Prelim Card Predictions
Bantamweight (135lbs): Marlon Moraes vs. Merab Dvalishvili – Dvalishvili via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast – Haqparast via Decision
Heavyweight (265lbs): Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chris Daukaus – Daukaus via KO/TKO
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos – Santos via Decision
UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega Early Prelim Card Predictions
Lightweight (155lbs): Jalin Turner vs. Uros Medic – Medic via KO/TKO
(W) Flyweight (125lbs): Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva – Fiorot via Decision
Middleweight (185lbs): Karl Roberson vs. Nick Maximov – Maximov via Submission
Welterweight (170lbs): Matt Semelsberger vs. Martin Sano – Semelsberger via KO/TKO
Featherweight (145lbs): Omar Morales vs. Jonathan Pearce – Morales via Submission
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights subject to change.