Australian UFC fighter Alexander Volkanovski has successfully defended his Featherweight title against American Brian Ortega in the main event of UFC 266.
Fans in Las Vegas’ T-Mobile arena were on their feet as the featherweights went to war in a battle that lasted the full 25 minutes. Volkanovski retained his title via unanimous decision, judges scoring the bout 49-46, 50-45 and 50-44.
Volkanovski stayed in control that vast majority of the bout, keeping the fight a striking match. Volkanovski utilised leg kicks effectively throughout the fight, a strategy that has been on display in his previous two title fights against Max Halloway.
Ortega did initiate ground game towards the latter half of the bout, even locking in an extremely tight guillotine choke in the third round. However, Volkanovski kept his composure and managed to escape the submission, secure a dominant position, and land some significant strikes.
Referee Herb Dean consulted a ringside physician multiple times during the bout, between the third and fourth rounds, and again between the fourth and fifth. The doctor cleared Ortega to compete, although Volkanovski did raise issues with that decision.
“The ref decided to give [Ortega] a minute, to ask him questions, he wasn’t answering them right I’m telling you, I was looking. He answered every question wrong,” Volkansovski said at the post-fight press conference. “I was like ‘what’s going on here?’, they gave him an extra minute.”
This fight raises Volkonovski’s winning streak to 20 straight victories, his successful title defences to two, and his overall record to 23-1.
“Hard work has gotten me where I am. Anyone can do what I’ve done, sky’s the limit for any of you,” Volkanovski said in the cage after the fight, wrapped in an Australian flag.
“Everyone back home in Australia, I know you are going through a rough time – I did this for you. To my family, to my teams, everyone that’s backed me, everyone that’s helped me – I did this for you. Thank you.”
Volkanovski was the second champion to retain their belt at UFC 266, the first being Women’s Flyweight Valentina Shevchenko, who scored a TKO over title challenger Lauren Murphy in the fourth round.
Shevchenko stayed in control the entire fight and dictated when the fight would remain standing and when it would go to the ground, taking down her opponent with ease towards the latter half of the fight. A flurry of strikes dropped Murphy to the ground, where Shevchenko finished the fight via ground and pound.
This is Shevchenko’s sixth successful title defence since winning the belt in 2018, and although she holds a decisive victory over number one contender Jessica Andrade, Shevchenko holds no interest in moving weight divisions and becoming a two weight division champion, she revealed at the post-fight press conference.
Volkanovski was all smiles at the post fight press conference, walking in with his title and a can of Modelo in his hand.
“I wanted to get the finish, but at least it was a war, at least it was entertainment. Everyone enjoyed it, everyone’s absolutely buzzing,” Volkanovski said. “I’m just happy. I got the 50Gs, got the win, got the belt, bringing it back to Australia, on the piss – we’re laughing.”
Volkanoski concluded the press-conference by drinking the rest of his beer out of his shoe, a reference to fellow Australian fighter Tai Tuivasa.
Volkanovski’s performance earned him, along with Ortega, a bonus $50,000 USD for Fight of The Night.