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)