A trio of high-profile five-round fights, including two title bouts and the return of Nick Diaz was reported for UFC’s September 25th pay-per-view card. News of the big fights was first broken by Brett Okamoto of ESPN.
The fights join a show that is reportedly being targeted to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Volkanovski vs. Ortega Re-Booked
Brian Ortega’s title shot against UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski has been re-booked, now placed on UFC 266. A meeting between the 145-pound fighters was first targeted for March this year, although it was removed from that lineup due to COVID-19 protocols.
The matchup gives Volkanovski a chance to defend his belt for the second time. After earning it off Max Holloway in 2019, Volkanovski rematched the former champ in July of last year and won via split decision to retain his belt for the first time.
Ortega will be facing a champion for the second time in his pro career. He first challenged Holloway in 2018, losing via doctor stoppage after a four-round war. He is being given a title fight after winning his first fight back from that bout, defeating The Korean Zombie in October last year.
Volkanovski and Ortega are currently starring as the coaches for reality TV series “The Ultimate Fighter.” The fighters have had somewhat of a rivalry during the show, exchanging words in some segments.
Murphy Gets Shot Against Shevchenko
Rising flyweight Lauren Murphy is the next fighter that will attempt to break the long title reign of UFC Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Murphy is getting the fight after attaining five consecutive wins from 2019 to 2021. Her last victory was just last month, where she fought to a split decision win over Joanne Calderwood.
Shevchenko has the opportunity to defend her belt for the sixth time with a win. Should she succeed, she would set a record for the woman with most title defenses in UFC history. That record is currently held by Ronda Rousey, who had a near three-year run at bantamweight.
Shevchenko last defended her belt in April, stopping former strawweight champ Jessica Andrade in the second round with strikes.
Fan Favorite Nick Diaz To Return Against Lawler
Fighting for the first time in over a half-decade, Nick Diaz will return for a five-round fight against fellow veteran Robbie Lawler.
Diaz’s UFC run left off in 2015, where he fought for 25 minutes against Anderson Silva. While he lost the bout via unanimous decision, it was later overturned to a no contest due to a drug test on Silva.
Before then, Diaz had two consecutive losses on his record that still count to this day. His last win was his 2011 UFC return against BJ Penn.
Like Diaz, Lawlor is a fighter loved by the fans. He enters this five-round fight with something to prove, as he has lost four consecutive bouts, including a fight last year against Neil Magny.
The welterweights crossed paths over a decade ago, competing at UFC 47 in 2004. That fight went the way of Diaz, who scored a second-round stoppage win.
With three big fights in the lineup, here is how UFC 266 looks:
Bout 7: Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) vs. Brian Ortega (15-1) (UFC Featherweight Championship)
Bout 6: Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) vs. Lauren Murphy (15-4) (UFC Flyweight Championship)
Bout 5: Robbie Lawler (28-15) vs. Nick Diaz (26-9) (Welterweight)
Bout 4: Marlon Moraes (23-8-1) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (13-4) (Bantamweight)
Bout 3: Manon Fiorot (7-1) vs. Mayra Bueno Silva (7-1-1) (Flyweight)
Bout 2: Curtis Blaydes (14-3) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruick (12-2) (Heavyweight)
Bout 1: Tatiana Suarez (8-0) vs. Roxanne Modafferi (25-18) (Flyweight)