Two title fights will headline UFC 266 on Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

UFC Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski will defend his title against no. 2 contender Brian Ortega in the main event of the evening. Meanwhile, UFC women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko will look to extend her dominance in her weight class as she takes on the challenge of Lauren Murphy. Meanwhile, a rematch 17 years in the making will happen in the third bout of the event as Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler renew their pleasantries.

The action does not stop there as knockout artists Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Curtis Blaydes face off in the second bout of the evening while former UFC strawweight champion Jessica Andrade will face Cynthia Calvillo in the curtain-raiser.

Let’s take a look at the five bouts on the UFC 266 main card and pick our winners.

“Fighting" Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega

Volkanovski is the UFC featherweight champion and the no. 4 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC. The 32-yeard old from New South Wales, Australia won the belt by defeating Max Holloway at UFC 245. He successfully defended it against Holloway via a controversial split decision at UFC 251. Volkanovski is 9-0 under the UFC and has not lost a fight since May 2013.

He has a record of 22-1 with 11 knockouts and three wins via submission. Volkanovski stands 5-6 tall with a reach of 71 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.

Brian Ortega is the no. 2 ranked featherweight in the UFC. The 30-year old from Los Angeles, California is a former RFA featherweight champion who joined the UFC with an unbeaten 8-0 record in 2014. After his first UFC bout was overturned due to a failed drug test, Ortega won six straight bouts, all via stoppage to earn a shot at the UFC gold. Ortega lost to Max Holloway at UFC 231 in 2018 and has fought only once since then, beating the Korean Zombie in October of last year.

T-City is 5-8 tall with a 69-inch reach and is a switch hitter. He has a record of 15-1 with three knockouts and seven wins via submission.

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Odds from BetOnline as of 09/24/2021

Holloway dominated Ortega on the feet while Volkanovski beat Holloway two times. I mean Ortega has great submission skills but he doesn’t use his wrestling enough to get into a position where he can submit his opponents.

Meanwhile, Volkanovski is the far more superior striker. Not only does he throw with more volume than Ortega but he also is more mobile and agile on his feet. Volkanovski also has decent wrestling and he can defend himself well against submissions. As long as he fights his fight, Volkanovski controls where this fight goes and his striking skills will be the difference here.

Prediction: Alexander Volkanovski -185

“Fighting" Valentina Shevchenko vs Lauren Murphy

Valentina Shevchenko is the first and only UFC women’s flyweight champion. The 33-year old from Kyrgyzstan won the title by defeating Joana Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 and has gone on to successfully defend the belt five times, including thrice via stoppage. Bullet is 10-2 in the UFC with her losses only coming against Amanda Nunes at the bantamweight division. She is unbeaten, and almost unscathed since moving back to her natural weight class.

Shevchenko has a record of 21-3 with 7 knockouts and 7 submission wins. She is 5-5 tall with a 66-inch reach and fights out of the southpaw stance.

Lauren Murphy is a former Invicta FC bantamweight champion. The 38-year old from Anchorage, Alaska is the no. 3 ranked flyweight in the UFC. After losing her first two UFC bouts, she has won seven out of her last nine bouts including her last five. In her most recent Octagon appearance, Murphy defeated Joanne Calderwood via split decision.

Murphy is 5-5 tall with a 67-inch reach and is an orthodox fighter. She has a record of 15-4 with 8 knockouts and one submission loss.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 09/24/2021

Shevchenko has looked unstoppable at this weight class and there is no reason to believe she is slowing down. Valentina has all the advantages here and wherever the fight goes, she will have Murphy’s number.

Murphy is the biggest underdog in the main card and Shevchenko may be due for an upset if you believe the law of averages. But Shevchenko hasn’t shown any weaknesses in this division and she has dominated every opponent put in front of her. I am fascinated with Murphy’s odds but I don’t see how she wins this unless Shevchenko grew old too fast.

Prediction: Valentina Shevchenko -1950

“Fighting" Nick Diaz vs Robbie Lawler

Nick Diaz is the former Strikeforce and WEC welterweight champion. The 38-year old from Stockton, California is one of the most popular fighters in the UFC but he has not fought since a 2015 bout against Anderson Silva. Diaz has fought only three times in the last decade and has not won a fight since defeating B.J. Penn at UFC 137 in 2011.

Diaz has a record of 26-9 with 13 knockouts and eight submission wins. He is a southpaw who is 6-1 tall and has a reach of 76 inches.

Robbie Lawler is the former UFC welterweight champion. The 39-year old from San Diego, California is the no. 15 ranked welterweight in the UFC. The owner of three straight Fight of the Year winners, Lawler has lost his last four bouts and is just 1-5 in his last six, including the loss to Tyron Woodley at UFC 201 where he yielded the welterweight belt.

Ruthless has a record of 28-15 with 20 knockouts and one submission victory. He is also a southpaw fighter who stands 5-11 tall and has a reach of 74 inches.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 09/24/2021

Diaz has the edge in grappling and striking technique. And all he has to do here is avoid Lawler’s ruthless punches. That’s easier said than done but Diaz is skilled enough to take Lawler out of his game, that is if he doesn’t do any stupid thing in the cage.

Nick is durable and can take damage. He isn’t the fighter who will fold when Lawler applies the pressure and starts throwing those big punches. But Diaz has not fought in a long time and rumors are going around that he was knocked out in training and is injured. Of course, his camp has denied those rumors but they simply won’t go away. If you believe Cesar Gracie’s word that Nick is OK, go with Diaz. Otherwise, why risk on what isn’t certain? Lawler is way past his prime but at least we know what to get from him.

Prediction: Robbie Lawler -151

“Fighting" Curtis Blaydes vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Blaydes is the no. 4 ranked heavyweight contender in the UFC today. Razor is 30-years old and is from Naperville, Illinois. He is a former NJCAA folkstyle wrestling champion from Harper College who joined the UFC in 2016. He won eight out of nine bouts before suffering a knockout loss to Derrick Lewis in his most recent bout last February.

Razor is 14-3 with 10 knockouts. He is an orthodox fighter who stands 6-4 tall and has a reach of 80 inches.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik is the no. 6 ranked heavyweight in the promotion. Bigi Boi is 33-year old and is from Paramaribo in Suriname. A former WLF Super Heavyweight Tournament champion and a Superkombat World Grand Prix runner-up, Rozenstruik joined the UFC in 2019. He has compiled an Octagon record of 6-2 with his losses coming against Francis Ngannou and Cyril Gane.

Rozenstruik is 12-2 with 11 knockouts. He stands 6-2 tall with a reach of 78 inches and fights out of the orthodox stance.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 09/24/2021

These are two of the more powerful punchers in the heavyweight division and one punch can end this fight. However, if we compare the skills of both fighters, it’s Blaydes who has a more versatile arsenal.

Rozenstruik knows only one way to fight and that is to stand and trade. But Blaydes is a former kickboxer who is also a good grappler. Knowing his opponent’s strengths, he should try to neutralize Bigi Boi by taking him to the mat. Rozenstruik is a slow starter, so that gives Blaydes the courage to chase the takedowns early. Blaydes gets the fight to the mat early, builds a good lead, and wins on points.

Prediction: Curtis Blaydes -315

“Fighting" Jessica Andrade vs Cynthia Calvillo

Jessica Andrade is the former UFC women’s strawweight champion. The 29-year old from Parana, Brazil is the no. 1 women’s flyweight contender in the UFC. Andrade has lost three out of her last four bouts, including two title shots. But her losses were against former/current champions Weili Zhang, Rose Namajunas, and Valentina Shevchenko.

Andrade has a record of 21-9 with 8 knockouts and seven submission victories. She is 5-1 tall with a 62-inch reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.

Cynthia Calvillo is no. 5 ranked female flyweight in the UFC. The 34-year old from San Jose, California is fought under Global Knockout and LFA before joining the UFC in 2017. She won five out of her first six UFC bouts but is just 1-1-1 in her last three outings. Calvillo lost to Katlyn Chookagian in her most recent bout at UFC 255.

She is 9-2 with two knockouts and three submission wins. Calvillo is an orthodox fighter who has a 64-inch reach and stands 5-4 tall.

What are the Moneyline Odds?






Odds from BetOnline as of 09/24/2021

Calvillo has good size in this fight but I expect Andrade to walk her down like the former champion did Chookagian. It doesn’t help that in her last fight, Calvillo lost to Chookagian. Calvillo will try to take this fight to the ground so she can slow down Andrade’s attack but after getting taken down seven times by Valentina Shevchenko in a failed title challenge, Andrade should’ve made the adjustments.

On the feet, Calvillo is tough but she doesn’t throw enough volume to win a striking battle. I think Andrade does her best to keep this fight on the feet. She beats Calvillo with volume and power in the stand-up.

Prediction: Jessica Andrade -248

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