A blockbuster UFC PPV is upon us as two title fights headline a stacked match card from top to bottom.
UFC 266 is a must-watch with a preliminary card that is stronger than any entire event the UFC has posted recently.
From Roxanne Modafferi, who makes history about the most professional fights in women’s MMA history, to Nick Diaz returning on the main map, UFC 266 has all-important intrigue all night before an excellent headline.
Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) vs. Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC)
Is it possible for a UFC champion to be underrated? In that case, I would say that Volkanovski is certainly not getting the respect he deserves.
The Australian is a big general in the ring and follows his instructions to a tee. Whether it’s his excellent jab and low kicks to work in his pocket, Volkanovski has competed with the best in the game, and it’s no coincidence that he is undefeated in his last 19.
Where Ortega could succeed, however, is in his ability to quickly end matches. Whether he grabs a submission with his excellent jiu-jitsu or with the power in his hands, Ortega only needs a moment to change the course of the fight.
‘T-City’ will have to stay in the fight to keep his openings there as his fight against Max Holloway quickly got away from him, leaving him helpless with Holloway’s famous output.
It should constitute a fascinating technical exhibition work, and a bad case of COVID for the champion threatens this competition, but I think you have to line up with the fighter who can win over long periods unlike someone who might looking for great moments.
Select: Alexander Volkanovski
Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) vs. Lauren Murphy (15-4)
Murphy gets into this on an impressive run in late career, but I do not see Shevchenko losing to anyone with flying weight at the moment.
She is faster than pretty much anyone, more technical on her feet and the mat and has more tools to pull on than anyone.
Murphy’s toughness will likely see her stay in the fight for a few laps, but Shevchenko’s skill gap is still too big for others at 125 lbs.
Select: Valentina Shevchenko
Nick Diaz (26-9, 2 NC) vs. Robbie Lawler (28-15, 1 NC)
Diaz’s style was always dependent on conditioning and timing, things that do not decrease specifically with age, but six years is a long time away from competition and it’s been 10 years since his last victory.
I also do not think Lawler is in the best position these days, but his level of readiness and competitiveness is out of the world than what Diaz will go into this fight with.
Hopefully this fight is not as sad as it seems to be, but I can see nothing but a Lawler victory – whether decisive or modest.
Select: Robbie Lawler
Curtis Blaydes (14-3, 1 NC) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-2)
Blaydes’ chin is likely to remain a question mark hanging over him and he tends to get caught on his posts for removals.
This lack of fluidity may well mean disaster against someone as harsh as Rozenstruik, but I do not think ‘Bigi Boy’ has faced a relentless wrestler like Blaydes before or felt the supreme pressure.
It’s tough thanks to the heavyweight heavyweight lottery, but I think if Blaydes can get Rozenstruik down, he’s going to keep him there and drop his mark from the ground.
Select: Curtis Blaydes
Jessica Andrade (21-9) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1)
I think Calvillo’s best chance here is through her wrestling, but I’m not sure she can overcome Andrade to get her down on the mat.
Maybe Calvillo can counter Andrade’s aggression on his feet to shoot under, but since the Brazilian himself is a talented grappler, I think ‘Bate Estaca’ should dictate this competition and where it takes place.
Select: Jessica Andrade
(Last predictions: 4/6, Total: 89/160, 56% success rate)
(Success rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19 ′: 57%, 20 ′: 67%)