Alexander Volkanovski escapes multiple submissions for title win vs. Brian Ortega


Alexander Volkanovski defended his featherweight title with a bloody, tumultuous unanimous decision over Brian Ortega, and Valentina Shevchenko defended her flyweight belt with a fourth-round stoppage of Lauren Murphy at UFC 266 on Saturday night.

After five brutal rounds and a hard-earned unanimous decision victory for Volkanovski in the main event of UFC 266, there was little to do but for the two rivals to hug out their differences.

Volkanovski walked a dangerous path on his way to a wide decision win. While using feints to throw off Ortega’s timing, the champion busted up the challenger’s face before nearly slipping into the wrong side of a fight-ending submission in the third round.

After a slip as Ortega landed a punch, Volkanovski found himself mounted under the challenger, who quickly locked up a guillotine choke. Volkanovski thrashed his way free to end up on top throwing heavy punches.

Ortega pounced and nearly finished the champ with a guillotine choke, but Volkanovski willed his way out of it and got back on top — only for Ortega to escape and to trap Volkanovski in a triangle choke that the champ also barely escaped.

“I thought it was done, you know,” Ortega said after the fight. “That’s what we train for. I was trying to come for his head but that little bastard is tough as hell, man.”

Volkanovski (23-1) dominated the scorecards — 49-46, 50-45 and 50-44 — in his 20th consecutive victory, but the Australian still had to survive an extraordinary challenge from the relentless Ortega (15-2), who didn’t quit despite a bloodied face and a clearly damaged nose. Volkanovski survived a spectacular third round in which both fighters appeared to be moments from finishing the other.

“I thought I was in his head, and then he came back even stronger,” Volkanovski said. “Credit to him. … It’s just preparation. I’m a normal human being. Hard work got me to where I am. Everyone can do what I’ve done.”

Volkanovski largely controlled the first two rounds with his usual impressive work rate and striking, but a bloodied Ortega knocked him down dramatically with a left hand in the third round.

Ortega was allowed to continue after a visit from the ringside doctor despite his apparently broken nose. In the fourth, Ortega got another takedown and nearly landed another choke, but Volkanovski gave a thumbs-up to the referee before escaping and finishing the round raining blows down on a prone Ortega, whose face was bloodied again.

“Man, it’s good preparation,” Volkanovski said of his relentless pace throughout the five rounds. “I told you. I’m a normal human being. Hard work got me where I am. … All the doubters, I’m going to keep proving you wrong time and time again. Bring it.”

With the win, Volkanovski is only the fifth fighter in UFC history to start his Octagon career with 10 consecutive victories. His 10-fight winning streak is the third-longest active streak on the UFC roster, behind women’s featherweight and bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (12) and welterweight champion Kamaru Usman (14).

Volkanovski finished the fifth round strong, and both fighters received multiple standing ovations.

Volkanovski’s next fight will likely come against the winner of the Nov. 13 UFC Fight Night main event between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez. Volkanovski defeated Holloway to win the title and won a highly-controversial split decision in their rematch.

  • Alexander Volkanovski (c) def. Brian Ortega via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)
  • Valentina Shevchenko (c) def. Lauren Murphy via fourth-round TKO (punches)
  • Robbie Lawler def. Nick Diaz via third-round TKO (punches)
  • Curtis Blaydes def. Jairzinho Rozenstruik via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Jessica Andrade def. Cynthia Calvillo via first-round TKO (punches)
  • Merab Dvalishvili def. Marlon Moraes via second-round TKO (punches)
  • Dan Hooker def. Nasrat Haqparast via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
  • Chris Daukaus def. Shamil Abdurakimov via second-round TKO (punches)
  • Talia Santos def. Roxanne Modafferii via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Jalin Turner def. Uros Medic via first-round submission (rear naked choke)
  • Nick Maximov def. Cody Brundage via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Matthew Semelsberger def. Martin Sano via first-round knockout (punch)
  • Jonathan Pearce def. Omar Morales via second-round submission (rear naked choke)

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