UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski retained his belt with a unanimous decision win over Brian Ortega (49-46, 50-45 and 50-44) at UFC 266 in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
In what some consider the best fight of 2021, Volkanovski picked Ortega apart for the entirety of the bout, but not without some challenges, The Atletic reports.
Volkanovski faced multiple submission attempts from the jiu-jitsu ace, including two very tight attempts in the third round. Both times he somehow managed to break free, reverse positions and throw hard punches and elbows back. Volkanovski was consistently the aggressor and did heavy damage both on the feet and on the mat.
The Australian landed 176 significant strikes in the contest and has improved to 23-1 as a professional. Ortega, a two-time title challenger, has now lost two of his last three fights.
Also on the card: Valentina Shevchenko once again dominated her opponent, this time Lauren Murphy en route to a fourth-round TKO win. The UFC flyweight champion cruised from the opening moments and proved that nobody in her division is near her level.
Fan favorite Nick Diaz also returned to the cage for the first time since 2015. He lost by third-round TKO to fellow legend Robbie Lawler, who was the faster and sharper fighter in the matchup.