By News Team
23rd September 2021
Alexander Volkanovski v Brian Ortega – UFC Featherweight Championship:
UFC Featherweight champion Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski will defend his crown for the second time, in his first championship bout that isn’t against Max Holloway. While that might be a relief to the Australian, Brian Ortega will provide little let-up from the fast-paced fights ‘Blessed’ enforced on his opponent.
Ortega returned to action impressively last October following a loss to Holloway that had stalled his championship momentum following a six-fight winning streak. Whilst it had looked like his championship dreams were fading at one point, such was the buzz he created with his performance against Chan Sung Yung, there was only one name the UFC top brass could have face Volkanovski next.
As it was, the two would first go head-to-head as coaches on the UFC’s returning Ultimate Fighter reality show, trading the occasional barb and prank during the competition. The week’s spent filming together certainly did not bring them closer together, but it certainly helped build anticipation for a fight which now seems to have genuine tension between the two competitors.
Volkanovski silenced any doubters with his performances against Holloway. He was able to deal with Max’s pressure and used his movement and feints to try and prevent him from unloading combinations. Ortega’s southpaw style may give the champion some difficulty though, as we saw against ‘Korean Zombie’ his jab is snappy and sharp and his left cross can be brutal when it lands. Expect the early rounds to be tight and restraint as they figure each other out and it could well be explosive towards the end.
The champion is currently the favourite at 4/7, with Ortega currently 11/8 to win. Volkanovski’s most likely method of victory looks to be via decision at 5/4, with Ortega’s best path to victory looking to be via submission at 4/1.
Valentina Shevchenko v Lauren Murphy – UFC Women’s Flyweight Championship:
The all-conquering Valentina Shevchenko is also back in action, defending her flyweight title for a sixth time. Valentina brought her A game in her last fight against Jessica Andrade, who has long been established as one of the best all-round female fighters in the game, but Shevchenko was ruthless in her performance, finishing her opponent with a second round barrage.
Her latest challenger comes in the form of Lauren Murphy who arrives into this on the back of a five-fight win streak, which culminated in a split-decision victory over Joanne Calderwood in June. There doesn’t seem an obvious path to victory for her in this one, but she’ll need to be crisp in her striking, constantly on the move and not afraid to mix in a level change from time to time.
Nick Diaz v Robbie Lawler:
This one has been labelled the ‘people’s main event’ as fan-favourite Nick Diaz returns to the octagon for the first time in over six years to take on veteran Robbie Lawler. The two first faced off at UFC 47, way back in 2004, with Diaz winning via second round KO.
It was a classic fight, but Father Time has taken its toll on both men and it’s difficult to see exactly how this one will play out. Diaz has been out of action completely since January 2015, so whether he can overcome the ring rust effect or not will be a big factor in play here. Lawler on the other hand has had 7 UFC fights since Diaz’s last appearance but comes into this on a four-fight losing streak and could well be making his last UFC appearances if things don’t go his way this weekend.
One thing this should guarantee is action. Neither are renowned for being particularly reserved in the octagon and Nick Diaz is arguably the greatest showman the sport has seen. The rest is rather unknown and that’s reflected in the betting market, with both men currently 11/10 to land the victory.