For the first time in what feels like months, the UFC is back in the pay-per-view business as the company prepares for UFC 266 in Las Vegas.
The promotion last held a pay-per-view event towards the beginning of August, which was highlighted by a lackluster main event that saw Ciryl Gane defeat Derrick Lewis to win the interim heavyweight championship in Houston.
More than a month and a half later, Dana White and company will look to bounce back in a big way, putting on a card with two title fights and the highly-anticipated return of Nick Diaz.
In the night’s main event, the coaches of the 2021 season of “The Ultimate Fighter” will collide as featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski defends his title against Brian Ortega.
The Australian champion, entering the night with a 22-1 record, will look to make things right after a positive COVID-19 test derailed the first bout between Volkanovski and Ortega that was scheduled UFC 260 in March.
Meanwhile, the 15-1 Ortega will hope for a different outcome in his second UFC title fight after a devastating loss to former featherweight champion Max Holloway at UFC 231 in December of 2018. In that bout, Ortega absorbed 290 significant strikes from Holloway, 244 of which were directed at the California native’s head.
Elsewhere, women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko will square off against the No. 3-ranked Lauren Murphy, who finally earned a title shot after winning each of her last five fights.
Murphy’s win streak followed an unimpressive stretch beforehand that saw her lose four of six fights over the span of almost four years. Now, she’ll enter UFC 266 with a 15-4 record in the cage, and she’ll run into the buzzsaw that is Valentina Shevchenko.
Shevchenko, the No. 2-ranked fighter in the UFC’s women’s pound-for-pound rankings, has been on a tear since becoming the promotion’s women’s flyweight champion.
She won 10 of her first 12 fights in the UFC, with each of her only two losses coming at the hands of current UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes, who happens to be the only fighter ahead of Shevchenko in the UFC’s women’s pound-for-pound rankings.
In the middle of the card, fans will finally see the return of Nick Diaz, who will make his way to the Octagon as a fighter for the first time since a bout against Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 183 in 2015.
Almost seven years after his last appearance in the cage, Diaz will get reacquainted with a man he fought all the way back in April of 2004: Robbie Lawler.
Lawler, a former UFC welterweight champion, hasn’t been the same threat since losing the title more than five years ago. He has just one win to his name since losing the belt to Tyron Woodley at UFC 201 in July of 2016, and enters UFC 266 with a four-fight losing streak.
Regardless of the two fighters’ ring rust or recent bout results, this one is sure to provide some fireworks in the midst of the main card.
As you clear out your calendars for a loaded pay-per-view event, we have everything you need to know to make sure you’re fully prepared for when UFC 266 kicks off in Las Vegas.
When is UFC 266?
UFC 266 will start at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 25, 2021.
Where is UFC 266 taking place?
UFC 264 will be held live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
UFC 266 main card:
Main event for the UFC Featherweight Championship: Alexander Volkanovski (c) vs. Brian Ortega (2)
UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship bout: Valentina Shevchenko (c) vs. Lauren Murphy (3)
Welterweight bout: Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler (15)
Heavyweight bout: Curtis Blaydes (4) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (6)
Women’s flyweight bout: Jessica Andrade (1) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (5)
How can I watch the UFC 266 main card and prelims?