Ortega vs Volkanovski: UFC 266 preview, odds, tickets

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July 12, 2020; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Alexander Volkanovski of Australia celebrates after his split-decision victory over Max Holloway in their UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via USA TODAY Sports

Ortega vs Volkanovski will be a matchup with Ultimate Fighting Championship gold on the line, and is a battle of elite featherweights in the main event of UFC 266 on Sept. 25, from inside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ortega vs Volkanovski: What you need to know

  • Time: UFC 266 kicks of with the prelims at 6 pm ET on ESPN and streaming service ESPN+
  • Cost: The main card PPV, which costs US $69.99, begins at 10 pm ET exclusively on ESPN+
  • Odds: The current odds have Volkanovski as a favorite at -180, to Ortega’s underdog line of +155 (via DraftKings)
  • Tickets: You can purchase tickets for UFC 266 directly from the T-Mobile Arena box office here.

Has Ortega grown enough to hang with “The Great” on the feet?

A key narrative going into this fight will be if Brian Ortega has evolved enough as a striker to effectively combat the talents the champion has on the feet. No one will forget the toughness the American showed in his UFC 231 title fight loss to Max Holloway, however, he was still beaten brutally over four rounds with “Blessed.”

Alexander Volkanovksi has gone toe-to-toe with Holloway for 50 minutes, mostly on the feet, and left with two wins. Some are wondering if Ortega will once again be outmatched when competing against a fighter that twice beat the man who battered him two and half years ago.

  • Ortega’s showed alot in October: In October, “T-City” competed for 25 minutes with one of the most feared strikers in the UFC featherweight division in Chan Sung Jung, and put on a striking clinic against the former title contender. It was an impressive leap forward that changed many observeres minds of Ortega’s chances to compete against elite strikers.
  • Volkanovski’s technical brilliance: Beating Max Holloway in a striking heavy fight is impressive, but doing it twice is downright awe-inspiring. Whether you agree with the decision or not, the Australian did what the legendary Jose Aldo could not. He clashed with one of the best strikers in the sport, and out techniqued him to the tune of two wins being added to his resume.

Advantage: Volkanovski

Is Volkanoski ready for Ortega’s grappling gifts?

A widely accepted fact in the featherweight division is going to the mat with Ortega is a decision at your own peril. That said, Volkanoski is not a lost babe in the woods when it comes to the ground game at the highest levels.

  • Ortega is a BJJ gangsta: Although only three of his seven career submission wins have come in the Octagon, Ortega has shown on multiple occassions why grappling with him is one of the biggest risks in the division. Be it from on top, or from his back, the Californian is as slick a grappler as their is in the promotion, and dueling him on the ground should be avoided at all costs.
  • The underrated wrestling of Volkanovski: While he has become a pound-for-pound fighter from his striking skills, Volkanovski has show talents as a grappler. His hulking size makes him a beastly wrestler at times, and he has proven more than once that he isn’t just a striking specialist.

Advantage: Ortega

Handling the heightened pressure of a rivalry?

This matchup has developed some serious interest-momentum over the last few months because it’s become quite apparent that these two men don’t like each other. The Aussie’s disdain for his American counterpart has been especially notable since the pair have faced off as coaches on the latest season of The UItimate Fighter.

Legitimate dislike can brighten a fight spotlight and heighten emotions during the bout. Whoever handles it best could be a major decider in who comes out victorious on fight night.

  • Ortega is used to the spotlight of hate: Even before he challenged for the division’s title in 2018, Ortega was a star for the UFC. He was in Modelo beer commercials, was the envy of his contemporaries for his rapid success, and the newest sex symbol for the few females in the UFC fan base. And he only turned 30 a few months ago. He is used to increased attention — be it positive or negative — at the highest levels.
  • Rivalries are new for Volkanovski: Despite the serious heat between Volkanovski and Holloway in the Octagon, there was always a mutual respect between the two before the fight. There was never a legitimate hate that motivated their preparation for the fight. For much of the champs ascension he was not a heavily marketed talent or one disliked by his fellow fighters. This growing rivalry and the different attention it brings is a new challenge for the 32-year-old.

Advantage: Ortega

The bottom line: The MMA sphere is excited for this fight because it is a battle of two of the very best, and most well-rounded 145-pound fighters on earth. They are evenly matched and small strategic adjustments and technical mistakes could play massive roles in the result. However, because of the hate between the two, this fight has risen from just a fun bout between two great talents to a must-see clash of championship rivals.

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