UFC 266 results, highlights: Alexander Volkanovski escapes multiple submissions for title win vs. Brian Ortega
The champion was nearly stopped twice in the third round only to rally back and put on a dominant performance
After a season as opposing coaches on "The Ultimate Fighter", the bad blood was thick between UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and challenger Brian Ortega. After five brutal rounds and a hard-earned unanimous decision victory for Volkanovski in the main event of UFC 266, there was little to do but for the two rivals to hug out their differences.
Volkanovski walked a dangerous path on his way to a wide decision win. While using feints to throw off Ortega's timing, the champion busted up the challenger's face before nearly slipping into the wrong side of a fight-ending submission in the third round. After a slip as Ortega landed a punch, Volkanovski found himself mounted under the challenger, who quickly locked up a guillotine choke. Volkanovski thrashed his way free to end up on top throwing heavy punches.
As the big strikes dropped on Ortega, he threw his legs up and caught Volkanovski in a deep triangle choke only to see the champion again manage to wriggle free and end up on top once again.
"I thought it was done, you know," Ortega said after the fight. "That's what we train for. I was trying to come for his head but that little bastard is tough as hell, man."
Those submission attempts were Ortega's best moments in the fight and the damage he took from Volkanovski after failing to secure the tap was ultimately too much to overcome. Ortega remained game throughout the rest of the fight, but Volkanovski continued to dominate the action with leg kicks and heavy right hands and jabs en route to scorecards of 49-46, 50-45 and 50-44.
"Man, it's good preparation," Volkanovski said of his relentless pace throughout the five rounds. "I told you. I'm a normal human being. Hard work got me where I am. ... All the doubters, I'm going to keep proving you wrong time and time again. Bring it."
With the win, Volkanovski is only the fifth fighter in UFC history to start his Octagon career with 10 consecutive victories. His 10-fight winning streak is the third-longest active streak on the UFC roster, behind women's featherweight and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (12) and welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (14).
Volkanovski's next fight will likely come against the winner of the Nov. 13 UFC Fight Night main event between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez. Volkanovski defeated Holloway to win the title and won a highly-controversial split decision in their rematch.
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Elsewhere on the card, while it may not have gone to plan, Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler put on a show for the fans in attendance over the course of two-plus rounds. Lawler scored the third-round TKO of Diaz, who was making his return to the Octagon after nearly six years away, when the California native refused to get up after being dropped by a left hook from the former welterweight champion. The win ended a four-fight losing streak for Lawler.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Saturday bringing you all the results and highlights from the UFC 266 below.
UFC 266 card and results
- Alexander Volkanovski (c) def. Brian Ortega via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)
- Valentina Shevchenko (c) def. Lauren Murphy via fourth-round TKO (punches)
- Robbie Lawler def. Nick Diaz via third-round TKO (punches)
- Curtis Blaydes def. Jairzinho Rozenstruik via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jessica Andrade def. Cynthia Calvillo via first-round TKO (punches)
- Merab Dvalishvili def. Marlon Moraes via second-round TKO (punches)
- Dan Hooker def. Nasrat Haqparast via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
- Chris Daukaus def. Shamil Abdurakimov via second-round TKO (punches)
- Talia Santos def. Roxanne Modafferii via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jalin Turner def. Uros Medic via first-round submission (rear naked choke)
- Nick Maximov def. Cody Brundage via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Matthew Semelsberger def. Martin Sano via first-round knockout (punch)
- Jonathan Pearce def. Omar Morales via second-round submission (rear naked choke)
Official result: Alexander Volkanovski def. Brian Ortega via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)
Ortega landed a few good punches in the closing seconds in a good final round. Ortega may have won the final round but will not win the fight. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Volkanovski (50-45)
Ortega caught a Volkanovski kick and tried to land a flying knee but missed before eating some more heavy jabs from the champion.
Volkanovski cracked Ortega again with a right hand and a jab before Ortega landed a good right hand. Ortega's face is now a bloody, swollen mess but he continues to come forward to try and make something happen.
Ortega landed a right hand as he found a bit of a second wind midway through the final round.
Volkanovski defended a takedown and landed a good elbow and right hand.
Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Brian Ortega -- Round 5: Volkanovski opened with a leg kick and a few hard jabs. Ortega threw a head kick that was blocked, but showed that he was still in the fight and trying to make something happen, even as Volkanovkski landed heavy leather.
Another round for the champion. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Volkanovski (40-36)
Volkanovski walked away and forced Ortega to stand back up, which Ortega seemed barely able to do.
Volkanovski dropped more absolute bombs as Ortega just took the big shots and tried again to throw his legs up.
Volkanovski dropped some heavy punches and elbows from on top as Ortega kept fishing for submissions.
Volkanovski landed a big left hook and a hard jab before Ortega tried for a takedown and did manage to get it before trying to lock in an anaconda but Volkanovski gave a thumbs up and reversed to end up on top.
Volkanovski landed leg kicks and a two-punch combination early in the round but Ortega got a right hand in clean.
Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Brian Ortega -- Round 4: The doctor and referee checked Ortega over before the start of the round before clearing the challenger to continue fighting.
Volkanovski continued to flurry until the horn and Ortega remained lying in his corner, looking exhausted. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Volkanovski (30-27)
VolOrtega threw up a deep triangle choke as he was eating big punches but Volkanovski escaped again to get back on top dropping big shots.
Ortega tried to lock up the choke again but ended up below Volkanovski and the champion began dropping heavy ground and pound.
Volkanovski landed a heavy left hook and Ortega responded with a left hand. Ortega dropped Volkanovski with a partially landed punch and Ortega jumped on top with a guillotine choke but Volkanovski slipped free.
Ortega got in a few clean punches but each one was met by a strong return shot from the champ.
Volkanovski kept his early focus on the leg kicks before Ortega stepped right into a right hand from the champion and a second one that stung the challenger. There was also a clash of heads that may have hurt Ortega.
Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Brian Ortega -- Round 3: Volkanovski landed a hard calf kick and both men landed kicks to the body.
Volkanovski landed hard with the right hand again. Another round for the champion on the unofficial scorecard. Unofficial scorecard: 10-9 Volkanovski (20-18)
Ortega tried to throw some combinations but outside of leg kicks was less effective in the second than in the opening round with his striking.