Some people are born to fight. At least that’s how things seem whenever someone like UFC featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski bursts onto the scene. Volkanovski is already one of the most dominant champions in the world, but he could also be on his way to doing even bigger and better things in the sport.
Volkanovksi, 32, from Australia, defends his 145-pound title against dangerous contender Brian “T-City” Ortega, 30, from the U.S., in the main event of UFC 266 on September 25.
Volkanovski enters the contest ranked only behind Jon Jones, Kamaru Usman, and Israel Adesanya on the UFC’s official pound-for-pound list. Moreover, there’s a solid argument to be made on his behalf that the UFC’s panel is placing him too low on the list.
After all, Jones hasn’t competed since February 2020, and Adesanya recently lost to UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 in March.
Meanwhile, Volkanovski is undefeated in the UFC. He’s probably underrated, too.
A victory over Ortega at UFC 266 this weekend would make it 10 wins in a row for the champ in the UFC, so a dominant performance might help elevate Volkanovski closer to where he belongs in the hearts and minds of the MMA community.
Volkanovski is one of the best fighters in the sport, and it’s something that seems to have come naturally to him.
Volkanovski Remembers First and Second Day at MMA Gym
Today, he’s known as “The Great” UFC featherweight champion, but back when he first walked into an MMA gym with a plan to stay in shape for his favorite sport (rugby), Volkanovski ended up proving to himself and his teammates that he was a natural-born fighter.
Volkanovski told UFC he knew he might be different from his peers after just his second trip to the gym.
“I remember walking in, this was the first time I ever went into my coach’s gym. And I was going to do it more for pre-season. I remember there was a guy at my school, he was a bit older, he looks at me and goes ‘What are you doing here? You’re going to get smashed.’ This is before I even walked in the door. I sort of brushed it off, I could’ve turned around and never done an MMA fight or trained MMA at all, but I didn’t really care and just went in,” Volkanovski said per UFC.
The story ends the way you might expect knowing all these years later that Volkanovski became a UFC champion.
“The next day, that same guy was there, and I remember we had grappling. And this was the first grapple I’d ever done, and he’d been doing it for a little while, he might have even been a blue belt. And I just remember absolutely smashing him, I was all over him…”, Volkanovski said per UFC.
The unnamed training partner never showed back up to the gym, but Volkanovski went on to become a champion.
Volkanovski Remains Most Underrated UFC Champion
Volkanovski enters his UFC 266 title defense against Ortega having won nine straight fights in the UFC, and he’s won 19 straight fights overall across all promotions.
Volkanovski’s only loss as a pro fighter came way back in 2013 in just his fourth pro outing. Moreover, that fight happened two weight classes above the one he rules today.
So nobody has ever defeated Volkanovski in the featherweight division.
Regardless, Volkanovski just hasn’t seemed to get the fans behind him in the same way they flock toward the UFC’s other top stars.
Among his pound-for-pound brethren, Jones, Adesanya, and Usman, Volkanovski seems to be the slowest needle mover in the pack.
That’s happening even after he was featured this year as a coach on the latest edition of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series.
But UFC 266 could change things in a big way.
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Volkanovski Favored on Betting Market to Defeat Ortega at UFC 266
Volkanovski is the -155 favorite on the betting market according to Thursday’s odds from Caesars Sportsbook. Ortega is a +135 underdog.
As dominant as Volkanovski has been in the UFC in the featherweight division, it seems some bettors still just won’t back him yet on the betting market.
A look at the statistics heading into UFC 266 revealed Volkanovski to be dominating the numbers between the two fighters in almost every single category.
Even looking at how each man recently fared against a common opponent, former champ Max Holloway, the data revealed a seemingly large gap in talent between Volkanovski and Ortega.
To put it bluntly, Volkanovski defeated Holloway twice, and Ortega got wrecked and stopped by the same fighter.
Regardless, Volkanovski enters what will be his second title defense in the UFC just a slight betting favorite in the fight.
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UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega on Sept. 25
UFC 266 features a stirring featherweight showdown between UFC featherweight champion Volkanovski and Brian Ortega. The stacked card also features UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko taking on Lauren Murphy in the co-main event.
You can see all the main card action scheduled for UFC 266 on September 25 in the list below.
Main Card (PPV)*
Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Brian Ortega, UFC featherweight championship
Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Lauren Murphy, UFC women’s flyweight championship
Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz, middleweights
Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, heavyweights
Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo, women’s flyweights
The rest of the fights are listed below.
Prelims and Early Prelims (ESPN+, UFC Fight Pass)*
Marlon Moraes vs. Merab Dvalishvili, bantamweights
Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast, lightweights
Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Chris Daukaus, heavyweights
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos, women’s flyweights
Ricky Simon vs. Timur Valiev, bantamweights
Uros Medic vs. Jalin Turner, lightweights
Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva, women’s flyweights
Karl Roberson vs. Nick Maximov, middleweight
Matthew Semelsberger vs. Martin Sano, welterweight
*card subject to change
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