ESPN broke the news of this double-header Tuesday evening, the same day the return of Nick Diaz was made official for a five-round return bout against Robbie Lawler. Volkanovski will be defending the UFC featherweight championship, and Valentina Shevchenko will once again be putting her women’s flyweight title on the line. The event is set to take place on September 25 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega are serving as the coaches for the current season of The Ultimate Fighter. After months of build-up, including a cancellation back in March, these two prime featherweights will finally get to show the world who belongs at the top of the 145-lbs. division.
Alexander Volkanovski is yet to lose in the UFC and, in fact, has not suffered a defeat since 2013. Volkanovski is currently on an incredible 19-fight winning streak and last defeated Max Holloway via split decision at UFC 251, making it back-to-back wins over the conductor of The Blessed Express. Volkanovski has also picked up wins over highly respected names at featherweight like José Aldo and Chad Mendes, contributing to the Australian being ranked #4 on the UFC’s pound-for-pound list. Volkanovski is healed up from his battles with COVID and will be ready to return to the Octagon for the first time in over a year at UFC 266.
Brian Ortega rebounded after losing to Max Holloway in 2018 by putting on an absolute showcase against The Korean Zombie (Chan Sung Jung) last October. The “2.0” expression may be overused in this sport as of late, but T-City put Brian Ortega 2.0 on display for all to see for themselves by putting on a masterful display of crisp and precision striking against The Zombie. The version of Brian Ortega who showed up that October night looked like a handful for anybody at 145 to handle. UFC 266 will reveal if the man currently holding the gold is up for the undertaking.
The Flyweight Queen Returns
Additionally, Valentina Shevchenko will look to continue dominating the women’s flyweight division when the UFC’s #2-ranked women’s pound-for-pound fighter takes on veteran Lauren Murphy in the co-main event. Shevchenko’s last domination came against Jéssica Andrade at UFC 261 for her fifth consecutive title defense.
Meanwhile, Lauren Murphy has quietly rallied together five straight wins to earn this opportunity. The 11-year MMA veteran most recently defeating Joanne Calderwood via split decision at UFC 263.
With this championship doubleheader official, the updated lineup for UFC 266 is as follows:
UFC Featherweight Championship Bout: Alexander Volkanovski(c) vs. Brian Ortega
UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship Bout: Valentina Shevchenko(c) vs. Lauren Murphy
Five-Round Feature Fight: Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler
Jéssica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo
Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Merab Dvalishvili vs. Marlon Moraes
Roxanne Modafferi vs. Tatiana Suarez
Uros Medic vs. Jalin Turner
Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva