Alexander Volkanovski, Valentina Shevchenko retain titles at UFC 266 | Inquirer Sports

Alexander Volkanovski, Valentina Shevchenko retain titles at UFC 266

/ 02:39 PM September 26, 2021
Volkanovski UFC

FILE PHOTO: July 12, 2020; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Alexander Volkanovski of Australia celebrates after his split-decision victory over Max Holloway in their UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports

Australian champion Alexander Volkanovski won a unanimous decision victory over Brian Ortega to successfully defend his featherweight title and Valentina Shevchenko dominated Lauren Murphy to retain the flyweight belt at UFC 266 on Saturday.

In a five-round war of attrition, Volkanovski had the better of the opening two rounds before explosive activity in the third saw the champ survive two choke attempts to unleash a merciless storm of punches on Ortega, who barely made it to the end of the round.

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Sep 24, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Alexander Volkanovski during weigh-ins for UFC 266 at Park Theater. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Californian Ortega went for another choke early in the fourth and once again Volkanovski was able to reverse the position to land thunderous blows from the top, but again Ortega survived.

Behind on the judges’ scorecards, Ortega had no choice but to swing for the fences in the final frame, but Volkanovski gutted out the last five minutes to take the decision and retain the belt.

Sep 24, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Valentina Shevchenko during weigh-ins for UFC 266 at Park Theater. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In the co-main event, flyweight challenger Murphy was no match for Shevchenko, and the 33-year-old from Kyrgyzstan completely outclassed the American before securing a TKO finish on the ground with a minute remaining in the fourth round.

In one of the most anticipated bouts on the card, fan favorite Nick Diaz made his return to the octagon after an absence of more than six years, but the 38-year-old lost his middleweight fight with Robbie Lawler by third-round TKO.

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TAGS: Alexander Volkanovski, Brian Ortega, Lauren Murphy, UFC 266, Valentina Shevchenko
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