UFC 266: 5 Big Fights to Keep Your Eyes On

UFC's Octagon

Getty Fans attend UFC 90 at Allstate Arena on October 25, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.

On Saturday, September 25, 2021, the Octagon returns as UFC 266 is set to take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. All in all, 14 bouts are scheduled for the event, including two title fights and several important divisional match-ups. Also, the featured bout will showcase a battle of two returning MMA legends. UFC 266 takes place September 25 at 10 p.m. Eastern time at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.

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Before the main card, the preliminary and early preliminary cards will air for free on several different platforms. Take a look at the UFC 266 fight card below:

Main Card (Airing on ESPN+ PPV)

Featherweight Championship Bout: Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Brian Ortega
Women’s Flyweight Championship Bout: Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Lauren Murphy
Middleweight Bout: Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz
Heavyweight Bout: Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Women’s Flyweight Bout: Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo

Preliminary Card (Airing on ESPN and ESPN+)

Bantamweight Bout: Marlon Moraes vs. Merab Dvalishvili
Lightweight Bout: Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast
Heavyweight Bout: Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chris Daukaus
Women’s Flyweight Bout: Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos
Bantamweight Bout: Ricky Simon vs. Timur Valiev
Lightweight Bout: Uros Medic vs. Jalin Turner

Early Preliminary Card (Airing on ESPN, ESPN+ and UFC Fight Pass)

Women’s Flyweight Bout: Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva
Middleweight Bout: Karl Roberson vs. Nick Maximov
Welterweight Bout: Matthew Semelsberger vs. Martin Sano Jr.

Keeping reading to see five fights to keep your eyes on during UFC 266.

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1. 145-Pound Title Fight Between Alexander Volkanovski & No. 2-Ranked Brian Ortega

Alex Volkanovski and Brian Ortega

GettyUFC 266 features Alex Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega.

UFC 266 is topped off by the highly anticipated featherweight title fight between champion Alexander Volkanovski and No. 2-ranked Brian Ortega. September 25 will mark the Australian’s second title defense. It is also Volkanovski’s first UFC title fight that isn’t against a man named Max Holloway.

Volkanovski has a professional MMA record of 22-1 and is undefeated in the promotion. His list of victories includes Holloway twice, former UFC featherweight king Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes.

On the other end, Ortega is riding the momentum of his dominant performance over Chan Sung Jung in October 2020. “T-City” has a 15-1 professional MMA record with wins over the likes of former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and fighting veteran Cub Swanson.

Volkanovski and Ortega have a heated rivalry that mostly stems from coaching “The Ultimate Fighter” opposite of each other. The UFC 266 main event is a fun style match-up, featuring the technically sound striking and high fight IQ of Volkanovski being tested by the versatile striking and flashy jiu-jitsu of T-City.

2. Women’s Flyweight Championship Showdown Featuring Queen Valentina Shevchenko & Contender Lauren Murphy

Valentina Shevchenko & Lauren Murphy

GettyValentina Shevchenko & Lauren Murphy

In the co-main event, 125-pound divisional queen Valentina Shevchenko will look to continue her dominance over the women’s flyweight division by taking out the No. 3-ranked contender, Lauren Murphy.

“Bullet” will enter the Octagon for her sixth title defense. The 21-3 pro has defended her title against the best of the best at 125 pounds, defeating the likes of former UFC strawweight champions Jessica Andrade and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

Murphy (15-4) has had an impressive last few years in the UFC, building a five-fight win streak that landed her the title fight. In this current run, “Lucky” has defeated names like Joanne Calderwood and Roxanne Modafferi.

Murphy will enter the cage at UFC 266 as a heavy underdog against Shevchenko, but she plans on using her grit to topple the No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound female fighter.

But, Lucky has her work cut out for her as Shevchenko is truly one of the phenoms of the sport.

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3. The Battle of the Legends: Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz

Robbie Lawler & Nick Diaz

GettyRobbie Lawler & Nick Diaz

Originally scheduled at welterweight, former UFC 170-pound champion Robbie Lawler (28-15, 1 NC) is set to clash against ex-Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz (26-9, 2 NC) at middleweight during the featured bout of UFC 266.

It’s been over a year since fans have watched “Ruthless” inside the cage, and over six for Diaz.

The fight is also a rematch 17 years in the making as the two fought in 2004 at UFC 47. Diaz devastated Lawler on the night with a second-round KO.

Lawler and Diaz are both legends of the sport with the latter being one of the most popular fighters of all time. The fight is also a fan-friendly style clash, with both fighters likely prepared to stand on their feet for the full five, five-minute rounds.

4. Pivotal Heavyweight Match-Up Featuring Curtis Blaydes & Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik

GettyUFC 266 on September 25 features a huge heavyweight fight between Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

During the UFC 266 main card, heavyweights will collide as No. 4-ranked contender Curtis Blaydes will battle No. 6 Jairzinho Rozenstruik. And it’s a pivotal fight for both combatants.

With the logjam at heavyweight right now, “Razor” and Rozenstruik need a win to keep themselves relevant in the title picture. The division can’t move forward until champion Francis Ngannou and interim champion Ciryl Gane unify the belt, and with names out there like ex-UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in the mix, losing at UFC 266 will derail either man’s dreams of gold for the foreseeable future.

Blaydes will enter the Octagon with a record of 14-3 as he looks to rebound from his KO loss to Derrick Lewis in February 2021. “Bigi Boy” (12-2) got back into the win column in his last fight by finishing Augusto Sakai with strikes and he’ll look to build on that momentum on Saturday night.

Look for Blaydes to utilize his improved striking to set up his dominant wrestling game. Bigi Boy is known for his devastating power, winning 11 of his 12 wins by KO or TKO, and will likely be looking for the finishing blow all night.

5. High-Stakes Clash in the Stacked Bantamweight Division Between Marlon Moraes & Merab Dvalishvili

Marlon Moraes & Merab Dvalishvili

GettyMarlon Moraes & Merab Dvalishvili

The preliminary card is scheduled to be headlined by a high-stakes bantamweight fight between ex-WSOF 135-pound champion Marlon Moraes and the surging Merab Dvalishvili. The bout is an intriguing one as Moraes looks to protect his spot in the upper echelon of bantamweight where he is ranked No. 6. “Magic” has fallen on hard times recently, losing three of his last four bouts, including his last two by TKO.

The 23-8 professional has fought for UFC gold once before but was unable to capture it, losing to Henry Cejudo by third-round TKO in June 2019 to start his current 1-3 stretch. If Moraes hopes to work his way toward another shot at gold anytime soon, halting the momentum of the Georgian at UFC 266 is a must.

Dvalishvili has been storming up the rankings the last few years and is currently sitting at No. 11. “The Machine” is riding a six-fight win streak and has a professional record of 13-4. And should he defeat Magic, he’ll likely shoot into the top 10 of the division, setting himself up for another big fight.

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