5 Questions That Need To Be Answered Heading Into UFC 266

UFC champ Alex Volkanovski


Alex Volkanovski returns to motion at UFC 266.

UFC 266 takes place on Saturday, September 25 at T-Cell Area in Las Vegas. It’s the most recent stacked UFC pay-per-view card on the schedule in 2021, and the winner of the principle occasion matchup between UFC featherweight champion Alex “The Nice’ Volkanovski and Brian “T-Metropolis” Ortega will solidify himself as the most effective 145-pound fighter on the planet.

In different motion, UFC ladies’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko will defend her crown in opposition to powerful contender Lauren Murphy.

Plus, UFC famous person Nick Diaz returns to the Octagon for the primary time since 2015 to face former UFC welterweight champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler in a rematch 17 years within the making.

UFC 266 takes place September 25 at 10 p.m. Jap time on the T-Cell Area in Las Vegas. It’ll air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.

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These fights and extra means there are many essential storylines heading into UFC 266.

Heavy has compiled the 5 most essential of them under.

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1. Was the Lengthy Look ahead to Volkanovski vs. Ortega Value It?

Volkanovski and Ortega have been initially set to face one another at UFC 260 in March, however Volkanovski examined optimistic for COVID-19. The combat needed to be rescheduled. Nevertheless, as an alternative of creating it occur as quickly as doable, the UFC pivoted in order that it may function the 2 fighters as head coaches within the newest installment of “The Final Fighter” actuality TV collection.

Whereas it’s little question a savvy transfer by the fighters to get as a lot air time as doable, one has to marvel how a lot profit the ESPN+ present will find yourself having on the pay-per-view numbers.

The place “The Final Fighter” was one of many most-watched applications within the MMA group, the proliferation of over-the-top streaming platforms and different content material choices in 2021 appears to have vastly lowered the present’s attain.

Whether or not it was sensible on the UFC’s half to basically maintain up the highest of the division for half a yr in order that the 2 stars may take part on the present isn’t one thing that may be answered proper now and even most likely after the combat, but it surely’s for positive a subject that needs to be thought of as time marches ahead.

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2. Can Anybody Severely Problem Shevchenko within the Girls’s Flyweight Division?

Shevchenko is well the most effective fighter in ladies’s flyweight historical past, and there’s a superb argument to be made on her behalf that she’s already one of many prime pound-for-pound fighters in ladies’s MMA historical past.

That “Bullet” is at all times such an enormous favourite in her fights at 125 isn’t her fault. There simply doesn’t appear to be a ton of 125-pound fighters who can match her unbelievable mix of expertise and expertise.

Nonetheless, Murphy enters her long-awaited title problem with the type of grit and dedication that may most likely at the very least be a part of the equation that sometime provides Shevchenko suits. Whether or not she has the remainder of the instruments stays to be seen.

However the broader query heading into UFC 266 is that this: If not Murphy, then who else would possibly give Shevchenko a run for her cash within the ladies’s flyweight division? The reply could possibly be no one.

3. Will Diaz Look Something Near What He Regarded Like in His Final Combat Half a Decade In the past?

Doing something on the highest degree takes repetition, and the plain reality of the matter is that no one besides Diaz is aware of how a lot time he’s spent coaching over the previous six years.

Diaz has remained extremely fashionable within the sport regardless of his lengthy absence, and he combines together with his youthful brother Nate Diaz to just about set the bar for sibling pairs in fight sports activities.

The Diaz brothers are as huge as they arrive in MMA, and there’s little question the UFC’s backside line is healthier off with each the celebrities competing this yr it doesn’t matter what the result.

Furthermore, Nick Diaz enters his first UFC combat since 2015 figuring out he already defeated his opponent manner again in 2004. It means there’s at the very least a good probability he would possibly be capable to do it once more.

Nonetheless, Lawler has been energetic all these years, and Diaz hasn’t. That truth alone ought to assist Lawler rapidly put Diaz right into a place within the combat the place Diaz has to show he’s nonetheless succesful on the elite degree of the game.

4. Will 5-Spherical Non-Championship Fights on the Undercard Turn into a Common Factor?

One has to marvel heading into UFC 266 whether or not five-round particular attraction bouts on undercards are set to turn into a repeatable prevalence. Diaz vs. Lawler 2 shall be simply the second time it’s occurred in UFC historical past. The primary five-round combat of that very same selection noticed Leon Edwards defeat Nate Diaz at UFC 263 in June.

On one hand, five-rounders give extra time for the fighters to determine their dominance within the combat. It’s why UFC championship fights and essential occasions get the additional two rounds, and it for positive helps the UFC ship a greater general product on combat evening.

However, although, giving out five-round fights to the Diaz brothers would appear like a nasty precedent to set. It seemingly modifications the foundations for the group and sport for no good motive, and it lends itself to getting used to tilt issues towards sure fighters’ favor.

Regardless, the one particular person that may reply the query about extra five-round fights on undercards being a factor is UFC president Dana White, and he’s but to disclose the reply.

Furthermore, extra rounds in fights for a similar worth from a client standpoint would appear to be good for followers who plan on buying the pay-per-view.

5. Which Heavyweight Contender Will Declare His Spot Among the many Finest Fighters in a Deep Division?

The heavyweight bout on the principle card between Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik is likely one of the most intriguing fights within the division this yr.

Certain, neither Blaydes nor Rozenstruik are more likely to be confused with UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and even interim champion Cyril Gane.

In reality, Ngannou has already smashed each these dudes, and Gane gained each minute of each spherical in opposition to Rozenstruik.

Regardless, Blaydes and Rozenstruik have been tabbed earlier than by some observers in current historical past as potential future champions. The winner can stay on track to at the very least get his probability at doing that sometime quickly, whereas the loser is more likely to fall out of the title image.

On prime of that, a win by both Blaydes or Rozenstruik would put the victor in line to compete in doubtlessly very profitable bouts in opposition to different prime heavyweight stars resembling former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and even UFC famous person Jon Jones.

Which heavyweight star competing at UFC 266 will declare his spot among the many prime fighters within the division? We’ll discover that out on September 25.

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Twitter: @Kelsey_McCarson

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