UFC 266 features the long-awaited showdown between UFC featherweight champion Alex “The Great” Volkanovski and hard-charging contender Brian “T-City” Ortega. Fans and media have eagerly anticipated the scintillating showdown for about six months now, and the battle is finally on its way after being delayed due to Volkanovki testing positive for COVID-19 before the fight was originally supposed to take place at UFC 260. The fight was delayed once again after the UFC decided to feature Volkanovski and Ortega in the latest installment of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series.
Now, the 145-pound megafight is finally here.
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+.
It’s the next stacked UFC pay-per-view card on the schedule for 2021, and the winner of the main event matchup between Volkanovski and Ortega will solidify himself as the best 145-pound fighter on the planet.
Both fighters will carry stalwart records into the fight. Volkanovski enters his second title defense with an overall record of 22-1, while Ortega will climb inside the UFC’s Octagon with an overall record of 15-1.
But there’s way more to any UFC fight than just the wins and losses attached to the names of the principal participants, so Heavy on UFC created this guide to help you dive into some of the other numbers.
Nothing’s a sure thing in this sport, but so far looking at the stats this year has helped Heavy on UFC predict the winner of two massive fights.
The stats revealed Dustin Poirier would probably defeat Conor McGregor at UFC 257, and they said he’d likely repeat the feat in the immediate rematch at UFC 264.
Now, we’ll look at the same kinds of numbers in regards to the UFC 266 main event matchup between Volkanovski and Ortega.
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Most Numbers Lean UFC Champ’s Way Heading Into UFC 266
Volkanovski, 32, from Australia, has enjoyed a stellar MMA career to date. His 22 wins saw 11 of the come by knockout, 3 by submission, and 8 by decision. Volkanovksi is undefeated in UFC fights, and he’s won 19 straight contests in MMA across all promotions.
But Ortega, 29, from the United States, will hope he has what it takes to pull off the upset at UFC 266. Out of the American’s 15 wins, 3 were by stoppages, seven were submissions and five were decisions.
Ortega’s only loss in the UFC was against former champion Max Holloway, a fighter Volkanovski defeated twice by decision.
According to UFC Stats, Volkanovksi would seem to have an edge heading into what will likely be a frenetic featherweight showdown between two stars not used to losing fights.
The UFC featherweight king lands more strikes per minute (6.02 to 4.09) than Ortega, and he does so at a much higher rate of accuracy (55% to 38%).
On top of that, Volkanovski’s defense is rated higher (60% to 52%), and he gets hit with way fewer significant strikes in return per minute (3.31 to 6.28), too.
Volkanovski also excels at grappling. While both fighters employ solid ground games, the Australian’s powerful wrestling-based attack helps him score 2.09 takedowns per 15 minutes to Ortega’s 0.80 over the same timeframe.
Volkanovski even bests Ortega in takedown accuracy (34% to 21%) and takedown defense (72% to 56%).
In fact, the only area in which Ortega bests Volkanovski is his submission game.
Ortega’s is a stalwart Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, and the American attempts 1.1 submissions every 15 minutes. That isn’t an absurdly high number in the UFC, but it’s over triple Volkanoski’s 0.3.
So statistically speaking, Volkanovksi would seem to have almost everything going for him on paper. The numbers imply he has a great chance to keep his belt when the two stars meet in the center of the cage at UFC 266.
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UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega on Sept. 25
UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega is a stacked card with two title fights as well as three other important divisional battles.
You can see below the fights currently scheduled to happen at UFC 266 on September 25.
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, welterweights
Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, heavyweights
Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo, women’s flyweights
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
Prediction for Volkanovski vs. Ortega
While Volkanovski would seem to have the decided edge heading into the fight, at least according to the basic stats considered above, Ortega does seem to have improved greatly over the last year or so.
After Ortega suffered a devastating beatdown at the hands of former UFC featherweight champion Holloway, some in the sport wondered whether Ortega would ever get back to top form again.
Not only did the American get back there, but he may have exceeded that. Ortega looked better than ever in his only fight since losing to Holloway back in 2018. In dominating Chan Sung Jung, aka “The Korean Zombie”, Ortega proved why he deserves the next crack at the champ.
Regardless, Volkanovski’s heavy leg kicks, powerful punches, and dominant wrestling should lead the Australian to a hard-fought victory.
Ortega is one of the top fighters in the division, but Volkanovski is likely to get through some tricky situations early in the fight to score the decision win over Ortega when the judges render their verdict after five rounds.
Ortega’s improved boxing and excellent jiu-jitsu make him dangerous, but the champ overcomes whatever the American tosses his way to prove he’s one of the most elite fighters in the sport.
Prediction: Volkanovski defeats Ortega via unanimous decision.
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