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8 Fights We Desire to Survey After UFC 266

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    Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Photography

    Saturday’s UFC 266 card in Las Vegas can safely be called one amongst the promotion’s ultimate events of the 365 days. It dazzled from starting up to destroy.

    The cardboard was once topped by a featherweight title fight between champion Alexander Volkanovski and challenger Brian Ortega. The fight, which Volkanovski won with a sound unanimous decision, straight clocked as one amongst the appropriate fights of the 365 days—and one amongst the appropriate featherweight title fights of all time.

    Within the UFC 266 co-principal event, UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko authored yet one other easy-taking a spy capture, this time sniping Lauren Murphy en route to a fourth-spherical TKO triumph. 

    Before the title fights purchased underway, ragged UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler improper the return of  fan approved Gash Diaz with a Third-spherical TKO. That spectacular exhibiting was once preceded by a spacious capture from Curtis Blaydes, who defeated Jairzinho Rozenstruik by decision, and one other from Jessica Andrade, who thumped Cynthia Calvillo to a major-spherical TKO. 

    Throw in a handful of myth undercard fights, and you would possibly maybe well well also fair contain gotten the recipe for a Card of the Year contender. It was once the roughly card that will purchase followers speaking for days. One in every of the recurring issues of dialog, as repeatedly, will likely be what’s next for the celebs of the card. Abet scrolling for our takes.

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    Jeff Bottari/Getty Photography

    UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski attach forth a masterful efficiency within the UFC 266 principal event, defending his strap with a vicious decision victory over Brian Ortega. The capture, which was once arguably some of the spectacular of his profession, pushed him onto a 20-fight capture drag and reaffirmed his situation as one amongst the head pound-for-pound opponents alive this day.

    But what’s next?

    Our hope is that Volkanovski will next protect his title against the winner of a planned showdown between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez.

    Volkanovski has overwhelmed Holloway twice beforehand, but both wins were competitive choices, so the grounds for a trilogy fight certainly exist—in particular if the approved Hawaiian will get by Rodriguez. As for Rodriguez, his sigh to a title shot will likely be all but undeniable if he will get by Holloway, and he’d picture a brand fresh and moving enviornment for the champ.

    Both map, we would fetch a huge fight and Volkanovski would fetch one other gigantic opportunity to cement himself as a generational capability.

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    Chris Unger/Getty Photography

    Brian Ortega’s UFC 266 featherweight title fight with Alexander Volkanovski didn’t lunge the vogue he planned—removed from it. As a change, he was once brutalized for the overwhelming majority of their 5-spherical fight, in a roundabout map leaving the cage with some horrible bruising and no belt.

    From here, Ortega’s first priority needs to be leisure. The roughly punishment he sustained against Volkanovski doubtlessly shaved years off his profession—and it wasn’t even the first powerful loss he’s sustained. His brain and body want a destroy sooner than he even thinks about returning to the Octagon. 

    At closing, obviously, Ortega will likely be ready to fight once more. When he is, he needs to be matched up with Calvin Kattar, who is on the mend after a equally brutal decision loss to Max Holloway. Both featherweights are tremendously inviting, and both contain proved they’ve heart for days. It be gripping to imagine their doable pairing being one thing else short of thrilling, and the winner would rob a spacious step advantage against title contention.

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    Jeff Bottari/Getty Photography

    UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko is out of choices. She has been so dominant, so unbelievably harmful, that she is entirely out of viable challengers. Surely, after her fourth-spherical TKO capture over the entirely outmatched Lauren Murphy at UFC 266, she in actuality easiest seems to contain one option: a superfight with UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes.

    Shevchenko and Nunes contain fought twice beforehand, both times within the bantamweight division. Nunes won their first two encounters, but both of these victories were extremely competitive choices.

    The grounds for a trilogy fight contain existed for years. Now that Shevchenko has cleared out her division—one thing Nunes has carried out at both bantamweight and featherweight—it be time to pull the trigger. Obviously, Nunes will favor to fetch by Julianna Pena at UFC 269, but that feels appreciate a sure wager.

    Once she’s through that enviornment, she owes Shevchenko one other opportunity, with the bantamweight belt on the road. It be either that or both women rob extended holidays while they watch for imprint fresh contenders to emerge.

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    Jeff Bottari/Getty Photography

    Weak UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler looked as true as he has in years on the UFC 266 principal card, spoiling the return of fan approved Gash Diaz with a 2nd-spherical TKO. In victory, Lawler avenged a 2004 knockout loss to Diaz—coincidentally with the categorical same punch Diaz beat him with all these years within the past: the test true hook.

    The victory ended a four-fight shedding drag for Lawler, and while he’s now not ranked at welterweight, he all right away has a lot of inviting choices at his fingertips. Arguably some of the inviting of the bunch is a fight with Gash’s younger brother, Nate Diaz.

    Obviously, this fight would contain a built-in revenge myth, as Nate would spy to avenge his brother’s UFC 266 loss. The fight additionally makes sense from a matchmaking perspective, as both Lawler and the younger Diaz brother seem to contain entered the portion of their careers when it be extra about stress-free fights than it is chasing titles. 

    The categorical charm of this fight, obviously, is how the 2 match up on paper. Lawler and Gash Diaz dropped jaws at UFC 266. It be imaginable Lawler and Nate Diaz would give us an even better fight. It could per chance well produce a excellent pay-per-glance co-principal event—correct kind produce definite that it be 5 rounds. 

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    Chris Unger/Getty Photography

    Followers are going to be divided on Gash Diaz’s efficiency against Robbie Lawler. On the one hand, he positively confirmed flashes of his ragged brilliance, brutalizing Lawler’s body alongside with his trademark punches in bunches. On the diversified hand, he gave the impact to wilt within the face of Lawler’s relentless stress and looked appreciate a man who wasn’t in actuality having fun with himself within the closing moments of the fight.

    After his UFC 266 loss to Lawler, it be gripping to reveal if the elder Diaz brother will ever fight once more—or if he would possibly maybe well well also fair restful even be allowed to by his crew. If he does fight once more, UFC brass will favor to be cautious who it suits him up with. There is no favor to enviornment the 38-365 days-archaic to further punishment against the cream of the slice.

    One fight that does produce sense for Diaz is a bout with fellow aged and fan approved Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. No longer like Diaz, Cerrone has been frenetically busy for a lot of of his UFC profession, but the 38-365 days-archaic has fair now not too lengthy within the past struggled to search out wins, with four losses and one no contest in his closing 5 fights.

    If he and Diaz are certain to fight once more, pit them against every diversified, and produce definite that the loser rides off into the sundown with their head held excessive.

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    Cooper Neill/Getty Photography

    UFC 266 featured two well-known heavyweight fights.

    First up, rising contender Chris Daukaus picked up the final phrase capture of his profession to this point, shutting the lights out on No. 7-ranked contender Shamil Abdurakhimov within the 2nd spherical of an undercard scrap. Then, within the 2nd bout of the principal card, No. 4-ranked contender Curtis Blaydes rebounded from a knockout loss to Derrick Lewis with a lopsided decision defeat of Jairzinho Rozenstruik. From here, it easiest makes sense to compare the 2 spacious males against every diversified.

    In his put up-fight interview with commentator Daniel Cormier, Daukaus expressed passion in a fight with the Blaydes-Rozenstruik winner. Whereas Blaydes didn’t mention Daukaus in his put up-fight interview—he centered Francis Ngannou, Ciryl Gane, Stipe Miocic and Jon Jones—he’s beforehand acknowledged that he doesn’t in actuality care who he fights as lengthy as he’s getting paid. 

    It’d be a normal striker vs. grappler showdown with a region within the heavyweight high 5 on the road. Throw it on a pay-per-glance principal card.

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Jessica Andrade entered the cage at UFC 266 with the aim of distancing herself from a present stoppage loss to flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko. She done that mission in decisive vogue, with a major-spherical knockout over Cynthia Calvillo, who had never been stopped sooner than. 

    After her capture, Andrade announced her map to return to the strawweight division, where she was once briefly the champion in 2019. Namely, she centered reigning champion Rose Namajunas and ragged champion Weili Zhang, who’re slated for a championship rematch at UFC 268 in November. 

    Given that Namajunas and Zhang are tied up, a extra correct option for Andrade would be a rematch alongside with her fellow ragged champ, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

    Andrade would no question leap at a possibility for redemption against the Polish striker. Jedrzejczyk, meanwhile, hasn’t fought since an early 2020 decision loss to Zhang and needs to fight—and beat—somebody appreciate Andrade if she intends to take care of linked.

    Book the 2 ragged champs for a rematch and glance which girl can stake their sigh to 1 other title shot.

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    Cooper Neill/Getty Photography

    Georgia’s Merab Dvalishvili improved to 5 in a row within the closing bout of the UFC 266 undercard, clobbering the repeatedly-abominable Marlon Moraes to a 2nd-spherical TKO triumph. The capture was once in particular spectacular on condition that Dvalishvili very nearly had his batteries knocked out within the first spherical.

    After this come-from-within the good thing about capture over Moraes, who was once ranked sixth at bantamweight heading into the fight, Dvalishvili is likely to leap into the division’s high 10. Extra importantly, he’s likely to be rewarded with one other plentiful opportunity.

    We’re hoping he’s matched up with Retract Font.

    Like Dvalishvili, Font is on a nice drag, having won his closing four. The No. 4 contender’s present drag is highlighted by a total decision defeat of ragged bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt and a stoppage capture over Moraes. The fight makes your entire sense on this planet from a rankings standpoint, and the winner would contain genuine sigh to a bantamweight title shot.

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