UFC 266 takes place this Saturday night with a loaded card being planned for T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Sitting atop the card are a pair of title fights, including one of the most dominant fighters in the sport as Valentina Shevchenko puts her women's flyweight title on the line against Lauren Murphy in the co-main event.
In the main event, Alexander Volkanovski will defend his featherweight title against Brian Ortega. Volkanovki is hoping for a more dominant performance after earning a controversial split decision win over Max Holloway in the first defense of the 145-pound championship.
Plus, the long-awaited return of Nick Diaz is here when the legend takes on another legend in the form of former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. Diaz has been out of action since a decision loss to Anderson Silva in January 2015 that proceeded a long battle with the Nevada Athletic Commission over marijuana. Lawler has hit his own rough patch at the end of his career with four straight losses.
We know it's easy to get lost in the minutiae of a big event. So we're here to help give you a concise outlook of what to expect and what to know for every main card fight. Let's take a closer look at what to expect on Saturday.
Odds below are via Caesars Sportsbook
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including an in-depth preview of UFC 266 in Las Vegas on Saturday below.
Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo, Women's flyweight
- Odds: Andrade -280, Calvillo +230 | Last three results: Andrade - L,W,L | Calvillo - L,W,D
- Andrade: Former strawweight champion looking to rebound from a loss in a bid for the flyweight title
- Calvillo: Looking to enter title contention after having a four-fight unbeaten streak snapped
Things could not have gone much worse for Andrade (21-9) in her most recent fight. The Brazilian was given a shot at women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko and was completely dominated as the champ decided to show off her wrestling skills before finishing the fight in the second round. Andrade received the title shot after a single victory in her new weight class and is now 1-3 in her four most recent fights. Still, as a former women's strawweight champion, Andrade is always dangerous. Calvillo (9-2-1) has had much more recent success than Andrade, albeit against fewer elite opponents. Calvillo had a four-fight unbeaten streak snapped in her most recent outing, losing a unanimous decision to Katlyn Chookagian. One fight prior, Calvillo picked up the biggest win of her career, taking a decision over former title challenger Jessica Eye.
Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Heavyweight
- Odds: Blaydes -310, Rozenstruik +250 | Last three results: Blaydes - L,W,W | Rozenstruik - W,L,W
- Blaydes: A stoppage artist who has only lost to two of the UFC's elite heavyweights
- Rozenstruik: One of the hardest-hitting heavyweights in UFC history with 11 knockouts in 12 career victories
Blaydes (14-3) has only lost three times in his career, twice to current UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and once to multi-time title challenger Derrick Lewis. The loss to Lewis came in Blaydes' most recent fight, when Blaydes was caught by a perfectly timed uppercut in the second round. Prior to that, Blaydes won four straight and was on the verge of title contention. Blaydes has won 10 fights by knockout and all three of his career losses have come via stoppage as well. Rozenstruik (12-2) is an elite-level finisher, with 11 of his 12 career victories coming via knockout. Similar to Blaydes, Rozenstruik's losses have come against elite opposition, losing a decision to current interim champion Ciryl Gane and being knocked out in 20 seconds by Ngannou. Only Gane has managed to take Rozenstruik to decision in the UFC.
Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler, Welterweight
- Odds: Diaz -110, Lawler -110 | Last three results: Diaz - L,L,W | Lawler - L,L,L
- Diaz: A fan favorite MMA icon who is making his return to the Octagon for the first time since 2015
- Lawler: An all-action legend in the twilight of his career looking for one final big victory
Diaz (26-9) and Lawler (28-15) first fought at UFC 47 in April 2004, with Diaz scoring a knockout win. Since then, both have gone on to achieve great heights in their MMA careers, becoming two of the most beloved fighters in the sport's history. Diaz has unfortunately had his career largely derailed by the sport holding onto antiquated rules toward marijuana use for too long. After fighting Anderson Silva in January 2015, Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites and the Nevada State Athletic Commission made a push to ban Diaz for life. The rules have since changed, but the fight with Lawler is Diaz's first since facing Silva. The loss to Diaz came in Lawler's 10th professional fight. He would go on to win championships in EliteXC and the UFC, becoming one of the sport's most iconic action fighters and engaging in some of the most incredible brawls in MMA history. Lawler is approaching the end of his career. Since successfully defending the UFC welterweight title twice, Lawler has hit a 1-5 skid and fallen out of the top end of the sport.
Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Lauren Murphy, Women's flyweight title
- Odds: Shevchenko -1400, Murphy +800 | Last three results: Shevchenko - W,W,W | Murphy - W,W,W
- Shevchenko: One of the sport's most dominant fighters looking to continue cleaning out her division
- Murphy: The "next woman up" is riding an impressive five-fight winning streak
Shevchenko (21-3) has only lost twice in the UFC Octagon. Both of those losses came to Amanda Nunes, the greatest female mixed martial artist ever. The more recent loss to Nunes came by split decision. Aside from Nunes, Shevchenko has been dominant, especially since winning the flyweight title in December 2018. Shevchenko already has five successful title defenses, including making easy work of Jessica Andrade in her most recent outing. Murphy (15-4) is the next woman up for Shevchenko and she has earned her title shot through a five-fight winning streak. Despite Murphy's recent run of success, she is a massive underdog against one of the most complete fighters in the sport.
Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Brian Ortega, Featherweight title
- Odds: Volkanovski -170, Ortega +145 | Last three results: Volkanovki - W,W,W | Ortega - W,L,W
- Volkanovski: The featherweight champion is making the second defense of his title
- Ortega: Fighting for just the second time since losing his last title shot in December 2018
Volkanovski (22-1) is riding a 19-fight winning streak that includes a perfect 9-0 record in the UFC. He also holds wins over the best fighters in featherweight history, beating Jose Aldo once and Max Holloway twice. Volkanovski's first win over Holloway earned him the featherweight title and led to an immediate rematch. Holloway seemed to do enough to deserve the win but the judges awarded Volkanovski the split decision. He now looks to again establish his place at the top of the 145-pound division.
Ortega (15-1) started his career with 14 consecutive victories, eventually earning a shot at then-champion Holloway in December 2018. Ortega gave a spirited effort in trying to win the belt, but the doctor stopped the fight at the end of the fourth round. The Fight of the Night bonus for the Holloway fight was likely little comfort after failing to win the title. A knee injury kept Ortega out of action until October 2020, where he turned in a career-best performance in taking a dominant decision against Chan Sung Jung to earn his title shot.
Who will win Volkanovski vs. Ortega? And how exactly does each UFC 266 fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks from Kyle Marley, who's up over $14,000 on MMA picks in the past 31 months, and find out.