UFC 266 took over Las Vegas, Nevada for the evening and delivered a spectacular night filled with the agony of defeat and the joys of victory.
With the return of the cult favorite Nick Diaz against Robbie Lawler, a rematch from 17-years ago, the night was sure to be special. The former UFC welterweight champ had a thrilling fight with Diaz which was mostly contested on the feet. As the two went back and forth, the pressure of Lawler proved to be too much for the elder Diaz brother.
Despite initial worries about the long layoff Diaz took, he came to fight. By the end of the bout, much like his ESPN interview, many were left wondering how badly the OG Stockton slapper really wanted to fight again. After the two began to trade shots methodically, Lawler’s pressure started to take an obvious toll on Diaz. In the third round, “Ruthless” dropped the 38-year old legend and won the fight via TKO.
With two gold belts hanging in the balance still, Alexander Volkanovski and Valentina Shevchenko turned in all-time classic performances. The “Bullet” met Lauren Murphy who was riding a 5-fight winning streak going into the night. Joining rarified air, Shevchenko dominated and won by TKO in the fourth round. The flyweight champ has now tied Ronda Rousey with six successful title defenses.
The UFC 266 main event delivered what many are deeming ‘Fight of the Year’ already. Volkanovski and Ortega went to war, and the former title challenger clamped a couple of submissions and had the champion gurgling for oxygen more than once. Showing off incredible willpower and heart, Volkanovski defended his title for a second time. Following a torturous battle with COVID-19, the Australian native handed the submission specialist his second loss while attempting to capture a title in the UFC.
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