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Making the Grade: UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega edition

On paper, UFC 266 was a stable match with a pair of title fights at the tip of the card as well to the prolonged-awaited return of Slash Diaz in a rematch towards Robbie Lawler that was 17 years within the making.

What undoubtedly resulted was arguably one of many finest events in UFC history that comprises an narrative important match as Alexander Volkanovski retained his featherweight title in a seemingly Fight of the Year candidate with Brian Ortega, while Valentina Shevchenko persisted running roughshod over the flyweight division while dispatching but any other contender in Lauren Murphy.

The showdown between Lawler and Diaz ended up being a ways extra fun than most predicted no subject the Stockton, Calif., inferior boy sitting on the sidelines for the past six years. While Diaz didn’t glance his most attention-grabbing, he also didn’t appear adore a shell of himself adore some on social media urged after a 10-second shadow boxing clip one way or the other went viral.

While the tip three fights undoubtedly stole the screen, the undercard and prelims also featured extra than about a thrilling moments including Jessica Andrade tearing by diagram of Cynthia Calvillo and Merab Dvalishvili one way or the other managing one of many finest comebacks in latest history to defeat Marlon Moraes.

There was also a battle between Dan Hooker and Nasrat Haqparast after every of them persisted a wild accelerate scheduled to undoubtedly device to the fight sooner than accomplishing a 3-spherical battle on Saturday night.

All told, UFC 266 was an unprecedented screen nearly from originate to form so with that acknowledged let’s discuss what passed and what failed within the most contemporary pay-per-see match. This is Making the Grade for UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega.

PASSES

Alexander the Mountainous

Thru no fault of his grasp, Alexander Volkanovski had one way or the other been painted because the inferior guy after he managed to exhaust a pair of choices over Max Holloway to exhaust after which protect the UFC featherweight title. Regardless of two wins over Holloway, Volkanovski calm hadn’t been undoubtedly neatly-known because the finest 145-pound fighter within the enviornment, which supposed he had one thing to advise in his fight towards Brian Ortega.

After 25 minutes within the cage on Saturday night, Volkanovski managed to redefine his title reign by accomplishing an absolute battle with Ortega that would possibly possibly stride down because the finest featherweight title fight in history.

While the scorecards possess been lopsided in his favor — most attention-grabbing a single establish managed to even give Ortega a spherical — Volkanovski needed to advise himself time and time again in hiss to exhaust the choice. In direct, Volkanovski’s capability to outlive a pair of submission makes an are trying within the third spherical—that would possibly possibly stay unsleeping because the finest five minutes of MMA movement all one year prolonged—confirmed right how great he indispensable to remain champion.

He then poured on the punishment every on the feet and on the ground while doling out a whopping 214 indispensable strikes — and a brief glance at Ortega’s face afterwards proved right how indispensable these strikes in actual fact possess been.

While Volkanovski would possess absolutely cherished a first-spherical knockout, he arguably obtained extra favor with fans by showing his heart and backbone over the direction of that entire fight.

Volkanovski also proved with out a shadow of a doubt that he deserves to possess that featherweight title spherical his waist. Likely he’ll are trying and solidify that in a third fight with Holloway at some level down the boulevard but for now it’s time to give Volkanovski his due, particularly after a efficiency adore that at UFC 266.

Unstoppable

In 2010, director Tony Scott released what stands out as the last movie of his legendary profession known as Unstoppable about a runaway prepare that’s barreling in the direction of a miniature metropolis with reputedly no capacity to undoubtedly gradual down or deter this mechanical monstrosity from causing advise destruction.

Within the movie, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine prepare to keep the day but when it involves the UFC flyweight division, it appears to be like no person can undoubtedly gradual down or approach shut to stopping Valentina Shevchenko from right demolishing the total competition save in her path.

The latest instance came at UFC 266 the attach Shevchenko dismantled but any other challenger—this time, Lauren Murphy—who managed to device it to the fourth spherical sooner than she at supreme crumbled below stress from the champion.

Shevchenko was methodical and calculating along with her approach to right opt apart Murphy spherical after spherical in hiss to residence up the ending combination later within the fight. There was below no circumstances a moment when Shevchenko regarded out of exhaust watch over or even rattled by anything else Murphy was doing, which ended in a dominant efficiency sooner than the TKO within the fourth spherical.

It nearly appears to be like unfair with the capacity that Shevchenko has smashed every opponent the UFC has thrown at her at 125 kilos. Even the fight that was supposed to be her toughest challenge didn’t device it out of the second spherical after Shevchenko bludgeoned Jessica Andrade with elbows to protect her title earlier this one year.

There are most attention-grabbing two problems Shevchenko would possibly possibly face one day — one would be her grasp complacency because of the an absence of compelling competition, which appears to be like highly not going given her perspective going correct into a quantity of her latest fights the attach she’s already been favored by ridiculous odds over her opponent.

The second subject would be Demetrious Johnson syndrome — a situation the old UFC flyweight champion faced after he tore by diagram of so many opponents in a row that contributors perceived to lose ardour in observing him compete in fights the attach it nearly felt guaranteed he would exhaust.

Clearly, Shevchenko shouldn’t in actual fact be afflicted too great by the latter challenge because that’s simply out of her exhaust watch over but judging by her latest performances, and the depth at flyweight straight away, it’s arduous to imagine any fighter at this time within the division coming wherever shut to beating her.

Ruthless Gets Revenge

For the supreme 17 years, Robbie Lawler needed to reside with the viral highlight that confirmed him being faceplanted by a punch from Slash Diaz in their first fight from 2004. At UFC 266, Lawler got a measure of revenge with a third-spherical form towards Diaz in their rematch.

There was a lot riding on this one for Lawler, particularly after he dropped four fights in a row along with his supreme couple of losses attempting adore the old welterweight champion was all correct now initiating to lose a step. He was dreary and right out of forms in fights towards Colby Covington and Neil Magny and it regarded adore presumably Lawler’s most attention-grabbing days possess been right monotonous him.

Nonetheless along with his rematch towards Diaz on Saturday night, Lawler confirmed that this old canine calm had time left to be taught about a unique options.

Significant adore his fight towards Ben Askren in 2019, Lawler regarded adore he was shot out of a cannon as he came sprinting all around the cage, throwing bombs with every fingers and attempting to weigh down his opponent. It was an especially effective approach going up towards Diaz because he hadn’t fought since 2015 and there was no telling how great ring rust would possibly possibly very successfully be lingering in that opening spherical.

While Diaz undoubtedly had his moments within the fight — he calm managed to throw 339 strikes in right over 10 minutes — Lawler steer clear off the be troubled and dished out quite a lot of his grasp. As great as he potentially would possess cherished to approach encourage the favor and send Diaz crashing face first to the canvas, Lawler needed to feel ethical in regards to the capacity he obtained at UFC 266.

After connecting with a test correct hook that dropped Diaz to the canvas, Lawler adopted up with any other big uppercut sooner than annoying his opponent upward thrust encourage to his feet to fulfill him again. With blood trickling out of his nose, Diaz indispensable no extra and the referee swooped in to quit the fight right 44 seconds into the third spherical.

Total, Lawler regarded sizable and no subject the day with out work, Diaz confirmed up ready to fight.

With the exhaust, Lawler can now save that four-fight shedding dawdle monotonous him and while it’s tricky to claim if he’ll ever be a legit possibility to the tip of the welterweight division again, there are calm quite a lot of fun fights obtainable for him one day.

Per chance next time Nate Diaz would favor a probability to avenge his brother in a fight towards Lawler? The relaxation appears to be like seemingly.

The Georgian Bulldog

A brand unique bantamweight contender emerged on Saturday night after Merab Dvalishvili picked up the finest exhaust of his profession over old title challenger Marlon Moraes but not sooner than he surviving a extreme dismay within the outlet spherical.

After two straight knockout losses in a row, Moraes was gunning for a fundamental larger ending this time spherical and he nearly got it after blasting Dvalishvili with a combination early within the fight that had the Georgian on rubber legs. There possess been a lot of moments the attach Moraes was doling out a savage sequence of strikes and it appeared that Dvalishvili would possibly possibly right be out on his feet.

Nonetheless referee Keith Peterson let the fight continue because while Dvalishvili was down, he was below no circumstances fully out.

In hiss to gradual down Moraes’ attack, Dvalishvili grabbed onto the clinch after which regarded for a takedown and within a subject of seconds, your total momentum within the fight shifted.

Dvalishvili began dropping down sledgehammers that correct now had Moraes in disaster and all correct now it was the Brazilian attempting to withhold on except the tip of the spherical.

From there it was all Dvalishvili as he would possess made UFC Hall of Famer Kevin Randleman proud along with his relentless tag of wrestling and vicious floor-and-pound to right punish Moraes except he would possibly possibly now not continue.

For rather a while, Dvalishvili has been the boogieman at bantamweight that no person was speeding to face. Now with this latest exhaust, he’s served sight that he’s not right a participant at the tip of the 135-pound division — he’s a extreme possibility to the title.

Credit The attach Credit is Due

There possess been so many sizable performances at UFC 266 it nearly appears to be like unfair to not advise about a extra.

First up, Jessica Andrade deserves hundreds of reward after she not most attention-grabbing bounced encourage from a loss to Valentina Shevchenko earlier this one year but she grew to change into the first person to form Cynthia Calvillo after she overwhelmed the old strawweight with strikes within the outlet spherical.

On the preliminary card, Dan Hooker managed to device an spectacular exhaust over Nasrat Haqparast after traveling midway all around the enviornment from Sleek Zealand and not even arriving at fight week except Thursday night with decrease than 12 hours supreme except he needed to device weight. Jet poke has worn out extra than about a opponents over time but Hooker is with out problems undefeated in that direct category.

Chris Daukaus remained undefeated in his UFC advertising and marketing campaign after he took out Shamil Abdurakhimov with a blistering second-spherical knockout. Snappy and athletic with big energy in his fingers, Daukaus has been a fundamental addition to the UFC’s heavyweight division and it will seemingly be sizable to glance him face a high-five ranked opponent next right explore how a ways this Philadelphia police officer can stride within the octagon.

Also, Jalin Turner regarded unheard of as he dispatched previously undefeated prospect Uros Medic with a first-spherical rear naked choke after which Matthew Semelsberger indispensable most attention-grabbing a single combination to avoid losing away Martin Sano with a knockout right 15 seconds into the outlet spherical.

All told, UFC 266 featured 13 fights with eight finishes by knockout or submission with a total of 13 ranked athletes competing—in preserving with the most contemporary World MMA Rankings by MMA Fighting—and it’s going to be awfully arduous for anything else to high this for the finest card of the one year when 2021 is concluded.

EPIC FAIL

Commentary Observe

Truth be taught, there in actual fact wasn’t anything else to whinge about with UFC 266 but Marvin Vettori did prepare to inject himself into the dialog after ripping color commentator Paul Felder, who was calling the fights alongside Jon Anik and Daniel Cormier on Saturday night.

Vettori took device at Felder by calling him “the worst to ever raise out it” after which acknowledged the recently retired gentle-weight was “double faced” for allegedly “calling a fight one sided when it’s in actual fact not.”

That criticism all stemmed from the capacity Felder known as Vettori’s supreme fight towards Israel Adesanya in June.

On that night, Vettori lost a unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the fight 50-45 in favor of Adesanya. Straight afterwards, Vettori told Adesanya that he thought he deserved to exhaust the fight and he was none too fully happy with the final consequence.

Nonetheless as well to to the judges that night, MMA Choices shows nearly every media member scoring the fight also gave the nod to Adesanya by that same 50-45 ranking with most attention-grabbing two journalists giving Vettori a single spherical.

Now Vettori would possibly possibly very successfully be ready to whinge that the scorecards don’t expose your total story of the fight because while he would possibly possibly need lost every spherical, he didn’t receive fully overwhelmed by Adesanya however the commentators working the match possess nothing to raise out with the judges. His steady subject is with the ratings handed down that night because Vettori clearly doesn’t accept as true with them.

Nonetheless at some level, you’ve got to let it stride and pass forward and blasting Felder’s commentary four months later appears to be like adore an awfully irregular hill to die on.

Vettori is already scheduled for any other fight in October towards old middleweight title contender Paulo Costa. If Vettori desires to receive encourage to Adesanya, the finest capacity to originate that accelerate would be dispatching Costa in spectacular vogue in their upcoming important match.

What obtained’t relieve is attacking a commentator adore Felder, who undoubtedly does a spacious job, while calm complaining in regards to the strategy of us saw your past fight.

Yes, Vettori can withhold onto the angst that he clearly saved after the Adesanya rematch but optimistically he’s at the least acknowledged the mistakes that possess been made that night so he can enhance and receive larger in his next appearance.

Sadly by attacking Felder’s commentary, it will seem that Vettori calm isn’t animated to concede defeat no subject every recognizable metric within the game telling him that he lost that night.

OVERALL GRADE FOR UFC 266: A+

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