5 questions to answer before UFC 266



Alex Volkanovski returns in action at UFC 266.

UFC 266 takes place on Saturday, September 25 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. This is the last UFC pay-per-view card on the schedule in 2021, and the winner of the main clash between UFC featherweight champion Alex “The Great” Volkanovski and Brian “T-City” Ortega will solidify as the best 145- pound fighter on the planet.

In another action, UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko will defend her crown against tough competitor Lauren Murphy.

Additionally, UFC superstar Nick Diaz returns to the Octagon for the first time since 2015 to face former UFC welterweight champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler in a 17-year-old rematch.

UFC 266 takes place on September 25 at 10 p.m. EST at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will be broadcast as a pay-per-view on ESPN +.

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These fights and many more mean that there are a lot of important storylines leading up to UFC 266.

Heavy has compiled the five most important of them below.

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1. Was Volkanovsky’s long wait against Ortega worth it?

Volkanovski and Ortega were originally scheduled to face each other at UFC 260 in March, but Volkanovski tested positive for COVID-19. The fight had to be rescheduled, but instead of making it happen ASAP, the UFC opted to feature the two fighters as head coaches in the final installment of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series.

While it’s undoubtedly a smart move for fighters to get as much airtime as possible on TV, it begs the question what advantage the ESPN + show will end up having over pay-per-view numbers.

Where “The Ultimate Fighter” was one of the most watched programs in the MMA community, the proliferation of over-the-top streaming platforms and other content options in 2021 appears to have significantly reduced the reach of the MMA community. emission.

Whether it is wise of the UFC to essentially maintain the top of the division for six months so that both stars can be on the show is not something that can be answered now or even possibly after. combat, but it is for sure a topic that should be considered as time goes on.

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2. Can anyone seriously challenge Shevchenko in the women’s flyweight division?

Shevchenko is hands down the best female flyweight fighter in history, and there’s a good case to be made on her behalf that she is already one of the best pound-for-pound female fighters in history. Female MMA.

That “Bullet” is always a big favorite in his fights is not his fault. There just don’t seem to be a ton of 125-pound fighters who can match his incredible mix of talent and experience.

Still, Murphy enters his long-awaited title challenge with the kind of courage and determination that could give Shevchenko fits. It remains to be seen if she has the rest of the tools to do something more.

But the bigger question ahead of UFC 266 is: If not Murphy, then who else could give Shevchenko a run for her money in the women’s flyweight division?

The answer could be no one.

3. Will Diaz look what he looked like in his last fight half a decade ago?

Doing anything at the highest level takes rehearsal, and the truth is, no one except Diaz knows how much time he’s spent training in the past six years.

Diaz has remained incredibly popular in the sport despite his long absence, and he combines with his younger brother Nate Diaz to pretty much set the bar for sibling pairs in combat sports.

The Diaz brothers are as big as they come in MMA, and there’s no doubt that the UFC result is better with both stars competing this year, regardless of the outcome.

Plus, Nick Diaz is entering his first UFC fight in six years knowing he has already defeated his opponent in 2004. That means there is at least a decent chance he can do it again.

Yet Lawler has been active, and not Diaz. That fact alone should help Lawler quickly put Diaz in a position in the fight where Diaz must prove he is still capable at the elite level of the sport.

Will he prove it? Will he even look like a legitimate professional fighter after being out of the cage for so long? We’ll find out at UFC 266.

4. Will five-round non-league fights on the undercard become a regular thing?

One has to wonder as UFC 266 approaches whether the five-round special attraction undercards fights are about to become a repeatable event.

Diaz vs. Lawler 2 will only be the second time this has happened in UFC history. The first five-round fight of this same variety saw Leon Edwards defeat Nate Diaz in June at UFC 263. Now it is happening again just three months later.

On the one hand, the five rounds give the fighters more time to establish their dominance in the fight. That’s why championship fights and UFC main events get the extra two rounds, and it sure helps the UFC deliver a better overall product on fight night.

Who doesn’t love more action?

On the other hand, giving five-round fights to the Diaz brothers would seem like a bad precedent to set. This apparently changes the rules of the organization and the sport for no good reason, and it could lend itself to being used to tip the scales in favor of some fighters.

Either way, the only person who can answer the question of more five-round fights on undercards is UFC president Dana White, and he’s yet to reveal the answer.

Additionally, more rounds in the fights for the same price from a consumer perspective would seem like great news for fans considering purchasing the pay-per-view.

5. Which heavyweight contender will claim his place among the best fighters in a deep division?

The main map heavyweight fight between Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik is one of the division’s most intriguing fights this year.

Of course, neither Blaydes nor Rozenstruik are likely to be confused with UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou or even interim champion Cyril Gane.

In fact, Ngannou has crushed these two guys before, and Gane has won every minute of every round against Rozenstruik.

Regardless, Blaydes and Rozenstruik have already been singled out by some observers as potential future champions. The winner would stay on track to potentially do so someday soon, while the loser would likely fall out of the title photo altogether.

On top of that, a victory for Blaydes or Rozenstruik would put the winner in contention to take part in potentially lucrative fights against other heavyweight stars such as former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic or even the UFC superstar Jon Jones.

Which heavyweight star attending UFC 266 will claim his place among the top fighters in the division?

We will find out on September 25.

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