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The Real Winners and Losers from UFC 266

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzTwitter LogoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2021

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    It occurred in Vegas. But its affect will not keep in Vegas.

    The UFC was again within the desert for its month-to-month pay-per-view present, shifting a number of miles from the Apex house base to the T-Mobile Arena to provide a dual-title occasion with one other five-rounder on the cardboard as nicely.

    UFC 266 included a featherweight championship match between title-holder Alexander Volkanovski and challenger Brian Ortega, a girls’s flyweight title match between Valentina Shevchenko and Lauren Murphy, and a bonus 25-minute rematch duel that pitted Nick Diaz in opposition to Robbie Lawler.

    The latter bout was a middleweight contest that adopted their preliminary assembly in 2004.

    Jon Anik, Daniel Cormier and Paul Felder held down the printed desk for ESPN+, whereas Megan Olivi dealt with breaking information and options from elsewhere within the room. Din Thomas chimed in with technical evaluation.

    In all, it was a 13-bout extravaganza from its begin simply after 6 p.m. ET to its end after 1 a.m.

    The B/R fight sports activities staff was in place from finish to finish and took in all the outcomes on the way in which to producing a definitive checklist of winners and losers from the UFC’s tenth big-ticket occasion of the yr.

    Click via to see what we got here up with, and drop a remark or two of your personal to tell us how we did.

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Who says traditional rock cannot be entertaining?

    Though Robbie Lawler and Nick Diaz have been nicely previous their greatest days within the Octagon, the 2 staples of the UFC’s adolescence obtained collectively for an epic rematch 17 years previous their first assembly.

    The 39-year-old ex-welterweight champion and his 38-year-old opponent mixed to throw greater than 550 strikes and land almost 300 earlier than Lawler dispatched his former conqueror by TKO.

    The finish got here at 44 seconds of the third spherical, after Lawler landed a brief, highly effective proper hook over a Diaz jab and dropped the Stockton-based fighter to the ground. Lawler rapidly backed off to keep away from participating Diaz on the mat, however Diaz was unable to reply referee Jason Herzog’s order to rise.

    As a outcome, the battle was stopped and Lawler had his revenge, after shedding within the 2004 assembly at UFC 47.

    “That’s certainly one of my favourite punches. I simply wanted to begin throwing it somewhat extra,” Lawler stated. “I’ve all the time had respect for Nick Diaz. He’s a hell of a fighter. He got here to battle. He obtained me going. I thanked him after the battle for forcing me to get on the market.”

    Indeed, Diaz was the busier fighter within the opening spherical, however his punches by no means deterred Lawler from coming ahead and urgent the motion. The ex-champ drove Diaz backward with a kick to the physique early within the second and completed the session with a volley of punches that had Diaz retreating.

    Diaz was visibly drained and reddened throughout the face to start the third and was out-landed, 10-6, within the third earlier than the tip got here. He’d out-landed Lawler within the first two rounds by a 144-131 margin.

    “That’s what I anticipated,” Lawler stated. “I anticipated him to carry it to me, push the tempo and attempt to break me. That’s the sort of sh-t I love to do.”

    It was Diaz’s first UFC look since a 2015 battle with Anderson Silva was adopted by a failed drug check and prolonged suspensions.

    “I’m glad at the least I placed on a present,” he stated. “I don’t haven’t any excuses. I had a very long time off. He’s in nice form. I do know I used to be leaking in right here I didn’t wish to make an excessive amount of of a multitude.”

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Go forward, try to discover a higher featherweight title battle.

    We dare you.

    Ultimate Fighter teaching rivals Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega engaged in an all-time traditional in Saturday’s show-closer, battling backwards and forwards with strikes, takedowns and submission makes an attempt earlier than Volkanovski emerged with a five-round unanimous choice in protection of his 145-pound title.

    The win was the champion’s twentieth in a row general and tenth straight within the UFC since he debuted in 2016.

    It got here through 49-46, 50-45 and 50-44 margins on the scorecards, however the champion himself conceded afterward simply how shut it had come to going the opposite manner—significantly throughout a harrowing third spherical during which Ortega locked in two of his signature chokes.

    “(Ortega’s) good,” he stated. “I’m all the time gonna discuss and say he’s not on my degree. I assumed I obtained in his head, however he stored coming again stronger. I’ve obtained to offer it to him.”

    Ortega was outhustled and out-landed by small margins via the primary 10 minutes earlier than the traditional center session, throughout which Volkanovski scored early with punches however was countered with a left-hand strike that dropped him to his knees and prompted Ortega’s fast transition to a mounted guillotine choke. The maintain appeared tight however the champion was nonetheless in a position to escape, solely to seek out himself locked right into a triangle choke quickly after.

    The two have been eye to eye as Ortega squeezed, however Volkanovski once more wriggled free and was in a position to make use of his prime place to strafe the challenger with heavy strikes for the ultimate 20 seconds.

    “Apparently,” Felder stated, “Volkanovski doesn’t must breathe like the remainder of us.”

    The late injury left Ortega swollen and bleeding across the eyes to start the fourth, and the battle appeared almost over when referee Herb Dean and a cageside doctor took an extended look earlier than permitting him to proceed. Volkanovski was tripped to the ground and escaped one more choke try early earlier than spending the final three minutes hammering his foe to what wound up as a 35-6 putting edge.

    “(Ortega’s) a zombie,” Cormier stated. “He walks via strikes that the majority guys can’t take.”

    The challenger rallied within the ultimate spherical and had Volkanovski retreating on the ultimate horn, which was adopted by an prolonged dialog and embrace.

    “I assumed it was carried out. That’s precisely what we educated for,” Ortega stated of his choke makes an attempt. “That little bastard’s f–king powerful as hell. I heard him gurgling, however he slipped out.”

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Lauren Murphy was lengthy on again tales.

    But quick on solutions.

    Though she’d sounded assured and carried herself bravely right into a title match with flyweight famous person Valentina Shevchenko, the Texas-based challenger dubbed “Lucky Lauren” was merely overmatched from finish to finish of a scheduled 25-minute co-main occasion.

    Murphy, ranked third at 125 kilos, was crushed by TKO at 4:00 of Round 4.

    It was the sixth profitable title protection for the 33-year-old—born within the former Soviet Union—who’d received her belt from Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 231 in 2018. She’s received eight in a row and 11 of 13 since arriving to the promotion in 2015, shedding twice by slender choices to Amanda Nunes in 2016 and 2017.

    For Murphy, it’s a fifth loss in 12 UFC fights since her arrival in 2014 and ended a five-fight win streak that had stretched again to a choice loss to Sijara Eubanks in 2018.

    She was persistently crushed to the punch by her quicker and sharper opponent, which rendered her much less keen to press the motion and finally on the unsuitable finish of almost each extended change.

    The decisive sequence got here after Shevchenko countered a Murphy kick with a brief proper hook that landed flush and immediately rendered its sufferer stiff-legged and wobbly.

    She was pushed again to the fence by a follow-up volley and rapidly taken all the way down to the ground, the place Shevchenko landed a collection of punches and elbows that prompted referee Keith Peterson to halt issues.

    “It feels superb. It’s one of the best feeling,” Shevchenko stated. “When you are feeling prefer it’s a second you may get your end, you’ve obtained to go, go, go for it.”

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Combat sports activities is a damage enterprise.

    But that doesn’t all the time must imply animosity between opponents.

    Though Jessica Andrade and Cynthia Calvillo weren’t significantly good to one another in the course of the time they spent competing on Saturday night time, they greater than made up for any animosity when it was over.

    Embraces, handshakes and twin hoists into the air have been the rule of the post-fight second after Andrade dispatched Calvillo in a gathering of the first- and fifth-ranked fighters within the flyweight division.

    The finish got here at 4:54 of Round 1, after an uppercut and left hook initially drove Calvillo again to the fence and a subsequent barrage of uncontested punches left her turned away from her foe, finally prompting an intervention from referee Dean.

    “She was powerful,” Andrade stated, “however I knew that boxing was going to be the main target.”

    The win got here on Andrade’s thirtieth birthday and the end was the seventh in her UFC profession since her debut in 2013, second amongst girls to solely dual-champ Amanda Nunes, who has 10.

    Andrade referred to as out former foes Rose Namajunas and Zhang Weili, each of whom she confronted inside 4 months in 2019. She beat Namajunas by second-round KO to win the strawweight title at UFC 237 earlier than shedding it to Weili in a single spherical in a Fight Night important occasion.

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    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    There’s punishment. And then there’s punishment.

    The beating ex-title challenger Marlon Moraes took within the prelim card finale actually qualifies because the latter.

    And then some.

    The Brazilian is understood primarily as an influence puncher himself, however he was on the receiving finish of greater than 100 consecutive strikes earlier than referee Keith Peterson lastly pulled the plug at 4:25 of the second spherical of their scheduled three-rounder at bantamweight.

    On a optimistic word, there was winner Merab Dvalishvili of Georgia.

    “A star is born tonight after delivering one of many best comebacks in UFC historical past,” Anik stated. “That was one for the historical past books.”

    Indeed it was. And the primary 5 minutes alone ought to qualify as one of many prime rounds of the yr due to Dvalishvili’s outstanding rally, however the truth that it ended with a virtually unfettered barrage to a grounded Moraes should have stored the second spherical from being fairly so brutal.

    But it did not.

    Instead, the frenetic Georgian went proper again on the offensive when issues obtained again to enterprise, rapidly getting his man again on the bottom and battering him with fists and elbows.

    Moraes provided no actual protection or try to flee, and Peterson inexplicably didn’t challenge the standard “battle or I’ll cease it” warning because the one-sided onslaught continued.

    In reality, the ESPN crew steered Moraes had even been knocked out momentarily, however no finish got here till simply 35 seconds remained.

    In the second spherical alone, the strike totals have been 142 to 0.

    And that was after a primary spherical that ended 104 to 34.

    That’s ridiculous—in any language.

    “You do not wish to see somebody taken anymore,” Felder stated. “Moraes had taken sufficient pictures.”

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    Cooper Neill/Getty Images

    If you did not know, now you understand—Philadelphia heavyweight Chris Daukaus can punch. Hard.

    The newly-minted 32-year-old police officer—his birthday was Saturday—introduced his presence as an element with authority, knocking veteran No. 7 contender Shamil Abdurakhimov out with a single proper hand lower than 90 seconds into the second spherical of their scheduled three-rounder.

    Daukaus arrived at No. 10 and had already scored 4 straight KOs, three within the UFC, earlier than encountering the 40-year-old Russian who’d received 5 of eight within the Octagon since debuting in 2015.

    A left hand dropped Abdurakhimov within the ultimate 30 seconds of the primary spherical, and Daukaus adopted up with about two dozen strikes on the bottom, however referee Mark Smith gave the stricken fighter an opportunity to achieve the tip of the session. He appeared secure at the beginning of the second however was clipped by a proper hand and went to his again once more, taking one other floor shot earlier than Smith jumped in.

    The official time was 1:23 of the second, and Daukaus quickly adopted with a collection of callouts, together with a problem of former two-time champion Stipe Miocic in a would-be battle of police officer and fireman.=

    Also on the hit checklist have been the winner of Saturday’s important card bout between Blaydes and Rozenstruik and a deliberate UFC 267 conflict between contenders Alexander Volkov and Marcin Tybura.

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    Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

    There weren’t so many individuals within the area. 

    And in all probability not too many but tuned into the printed.

    But that does not imply the portion of the present that occurred between 6 and eight p.m. was uneventful.

    On the opposite, there was quite a bit happening.

    Maryland-based welterweight Matthew Semelsberger arrived to the ultimate battle of his promotional contract in model, rendering opponent Martin Sano defenseless with the primary punch he threw whereas scoring a 15-second KO of their scheduled three-rounder at 185 kilos.

    It was the second fast erasure in three fights for the 28-year-old, only a second longer than his win over Jason Witt on a Fight Night present in March. In between, he’d dropped a unanimous choice to Khaos Williams on one other Fight Night card in June.

    “It felt superb,” Semelsberger stated. “I’ll take the short knockout. But I used to be coming in prepared for a battle.”

    Elsewhere, two of the opposite three early bouts led to finishes, each on rear-naked chokes.

    Featherweight Jonathan Pearce ended his battle with Omar Morales through that methodology within the second spherical, whereas underdog Jalin Turner completed off light-weight Uros Medic along with his personal at 4:01 of the primary.

    Only middleweight beginner Nick Maximov went the gap to get his W, successful two of three rounds on all three official scorecards in toppling short-notice opponent Cody Brundage by unanimous choice.

    It was a profitable UFC debut for Maximov, who appeared on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2020.

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    Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images

    Main Card

    Alexander Volkanovski def. Brian Ortega by unanimous choice (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)

    Valentina Shevchenko def. Lauren Murphy by TKO, 4:00, Round 4

    Robbie Lawler def. Nick Diaz by TKO (punches), 0:44, Round 3

    Curtis Blaydes def. Jairzinho Rozenstruik by unanimous choice (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

    Jessica Andrade def. Cynthia Calvillo by TKO (punches), 4:54, Round 1

    Prelims

    Merab Dvalishvili def. Marlon Moraes by TKO (punches), 4:25, Round 2

    Dan Hooker def. Nasrat Haqparast by unanimous choice (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)

    Chris Daukaus def. Shamil Abdurakhimov by TKO (punch), 1:23, Round 2

    Taila Santos def. Roxanne Modafferi by unanimous choice (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

    Early Prelims

    Jalin Turner def. Uros Medic by submission (rear-naked choke), 4:01, Round 1

    Nick Maximov def. Cody Brundage by unanimous choice (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

    Matthew Semelsberger def. Martin Sano by KO (punch), 0:15, Round 1

    Jonathan Pearce def. Omar Morales by submission (rear-naked choke), 3:31, Round 2

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