- Tarrian Rodgers
UFC 266:The moment we’ve all waited for
This Saturday’s UFC card in Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena has a different feel to it. Not only is it a culmination of International Fight Week but it’s a card with significant storylines and one that has the potential to be the card of the year.
The main event features featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. He will put his title on the line against top contender Brian Ortega. The two were the latest coaches on this season of “The Ultimate Fighter” which has only magnified their rivalry. The two were previously supposed to square off in March but Volkanovski was forced to withdraw after contracting Covid-19.
Volkanovski is currently riding a 19-fight winning streak. However, his opponent Brian Ortega is no slouch and he’s had time to refine all his tools Ortega is known for his cerebral submission game and his sniper like strikes and understands the opportunity that is in front of him. “I see the game, I play the game,” Ortega told TMZ Sports. “I’m climbing this technical mountain, to speak. These guys are already there. They’re far beyond me, I admit that, like some technical sh*t. But when I get in there, I’m different. There’s some things you can’t teach through technique. On the spot, on the go, when I’m in your face, when I touch you, when I hit you, I make you feel different things. That’s always been my advantage, and now that I’m adding technique to it, I’m climbing, I’m climbing, I’m climbing, I’m learning. I’m only getting more dangerous.”
The co-main event is another title fight that features Valentina Shevchenko who looks to continue her dominant run as women's flyweight champion as she faces challenger Lauren Murphy who is coming into Saturday’s bout as a winner of five straight fights. Shevchenko is not only fighting to defend her belt but she hopes to set up a mega trilogy fight with her rival double champion Amanda Nunes. Nunes owns two wins over the flyweight champion, but the second fight was a split decision. “I think if destiny puts this fight in front of us, most of us are gonna do it. I’m kind of focused very much on my flyweight division and I just want to be (a better fighter), and when (the third fight with Nunes is) gonna happen, I’m here,” Shevchenko said. Murphy is a strong opponent and not one to overlook.
It’s very rare that you have a fight card with two title fights on it and those aren’t even the most anticipated fights on the card. The fight everyone is looking forward to is the return of Nick Diaz as he faces his long-time rival Robbie Lawler. Diaz has not been seen in the octagon in six years. Although Lawler is coming off a four fight losing streak his style is a fan favorite and Diaz is renewing a 17 year old rematch.
Diaz’s reasons for taking this particular fight he claims is apart of his redemption story. Their first fight in Diaz’s words he took this gangster image into the fight and in the fight him cursing at Lawler distracted him enough to get the knockout. “It’s hard to go back and keep it gangster or whatever. It’s not a good look. I don’t really want to push that ‘cause I want to teach… I like to teach the kids and they’re all grown up now. And putting in work with those kids, it’s really good for me ‘cause they go hard. I’m actually a way more dangerous fighter than I was when I fought Robbie Lawler the first time. I’m not going out there to call him names. I’m gonna be a lot more sportsmanlike out there. That’s not what won me the fight last time. That surprised him a little bit, but I would’ve won the fight, anyways. I’m gonna be really unstoppable, having made the right decision. So I’m gonna beat Robbie again.”
This is one of the more compelling and interesting fight cards we will see all year and an incredible way to end International Fight Week.