Brian Ortega used to be known as much for his role in beer commercials as he was for his competence in mixed martial arts. The top-ranked featherweight is determined to change that perception for good when he takes on champion Alexander Volkanovski in the main event of UFC 266 on Saturday. Their battle closes the curtain on the main UFC 266 fight card (10 p.m. ET) from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Ortega was once a brash and undefeated prospect who saw his stock fall when he lost a lopsided title bid against former champion Max Holloway in December 2018, but he has maintained that changes to his lifestyle and training habits will make the difference in his second title shot.
Volkanovski is a -155 favorite (risk $155 to win $100), while Ortega is listed at +135 in the latest Volkanovski vs. Ortega odds from Caesars Sportsbook. In the co-main event, women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko (-1,600) faces third-ranked contender Lauren Murphy, who is the +900 underdog in the UFC 266 odds. Before locking in any picks of your own for Volkanovski vs. Ortega and the rest of the UFC 266 card, make sure you check out the UFC picks and predictions from SportsLine MMA analyst Kyle Marley.
Marley won the first-ever "ToutMaster" UFC betting contest sponsored by MMAOddsBreaker and appears regularly on multiple MMA betting and daily Fantasy shows. He watches every single fight for every professional MMA card and does extensive research before each event.
Over the past 31 months, $100 bettors who have followed Marley's picks are up more than $14,000. The accomplished MMA analyst has now connected on 36 of his last UFC 60 main-event selections, a stretch that includes a streak of five straight underdogs in 2020.
Just last week at UFC Fight Night, Marley told SportsLine members to back veteran light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith (-165) against rising contender Ryan Spann (+145) in the main event. Smith controlled the action from the opening horn and ended the fight with a first-round submission, giving Marley's followers another easy winner. Anyone who has followed Marley is way up.
Now, he's dialed in on Ortega vs. Volkanovski and just revealed his UFC 266 expert picks. You can only see Marley's MMA picks at SportsLine.
UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega preview
Although he has two victories over former champ Max Holloway and another over former title-holder Jose Aldo to his credit, Volkanovksi (22-1) still flies under the radar for many MMA observers. This is in large part because the mild-mannered Australian isn't overtly prone to self-promotion or trash talk, instead choosing to make his statements in the cage.
The 32-year-old champion is a former rugby pro who is now in his ninth year as a professional MMA fighter. He has yet to taste defeat in the UFC and hasn't lost since his fourth professional fight, which took place in an Australian promotion more than eight years ago.
Volkanovksi will undoubtedly see his profile rise should he prevail against Ortega (15-1-1), who has long been hailed as a prodigal talent and future champion as he worked his way up through the ranks.
The 30-year-old Ortega is known as a slick submission specialist who already is recognized as a standout grappling coach for other fighters. The Los Angeles native had a spotless record through 15 fights before he was dominated by Holloway in his first title shot two years ago.
Injuries caused a nearly two-year layoff, but the top-ranked Ortega looked back in top form as he took a lopsided decision against Chan Sung Jung, aka The Korean Zombie, as an underdog last October. You can only see who to back here.
Top UFC 266 predictions
We'll reveal one of Marley's UFC 266 selections here: He is siding with Nick Diaz (+130) to get his hand raised against Robbie Lawler (-150) in a middleweight matchup.
This is because Diaz and Lawler are considered beloved figures who played an integral role in the growth of the sport over the past two decades. They were both fresh-faced prospects and rising stars when they squared off 17 years ago at UFC 43, with Diaz landing a short hook that sent Lawler face-first into the canvas for a spectacular knockout.
They managed to avoid each other for the duration of their careers, with Lawler becoming welterweight champion, while Diaz was known for his high-profile fights against fellow UFC legends such as Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva.
Diaz (26-9-2) hasn't fought in more than six years, but ended his semi-retirement for this fight, while Lawler (28-15-1) has won just once since surrendering his title to Tyron Woodley in July 2016. Diaz earned his last victory against fading icon B.J. Penn in October 2011.
"I believe Diaz will be the fighter with the higher pace, the better cardio and the better ground game.," Marley told SportsLine.
How to make UFC 266 picks
Marley also has strong picks for Volkanovski vs. Ortega and every other bout on the UFC 266 fight card. He's also backing one fighter to "dominate from the opening bell." Those expert MMA picks are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins Volkanovski vs. Ortega? And how exactly does each fight end? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed picks on every fight at UFC 266, all from the incomparable expert who's up more than $14,000 on MMA in the past 31 months, and find out.
UFC 266 odds, fight card
Alexander Volkanovski (-155) vs. Brian Ortega (+135)
Valentina Shevchenko (-1,600) vs. Lauren Murphy (+900)
Nick Diaz (-110) vs. Robbie Lawler (-110)
Curtis Blaydes (-300) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (+250)
Jessica Andrade (-270) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (+230)
Talia Santos (-370) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (+310)
Marlon Moraes (+220) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (-260)
Dan Hooker (-160) vs. Nasrat Haqparast (+140)
Shamil Abdurakhimov (+165) vs. Chris Daukaus (-185)
Manon Fiorot (-260) vs. Mayra Beuno Silva (+220)
Karl Roberson (-115) vs. Nick Maximov (-105)
Matthew Semelsberger (-475) vs. Martin Sano (+380)
Uros Medic (-125) vs. Jalin Turner (+105)
Omar Morales (-150) vs. Jonathan Pearce (+130)