Robbie Lawler Alexander Volkanovski defended his featherweight title with a bloody, tumultuous unanimous selection over Brian Ortega, and Valentina Shevchenko defended her flyweight belt with a fourth-round stoppage of Lauren Murphy at UFC 266 on Saturday night.
Nick Diaz additionally misplaced his first combined martial arts combat in almost seven years, declining to go on after Robbie Lawler knocked him down with punches early in the 0.33 spherical at T-Mobile Arena.
Volkanovski (23-1) dominated the scorecards — 49-46, 50-45 and 50-44 — in his twentieth consecutive victory, however the Australian nevertheless had to live on an magnificent mission from the relentless Ortega (15-2),
who didn’t give up no matter a bloodied face and a virtually broken nose. Volkanovski survived a wonderful 1/3 spherical in which each opponents seemed to be moments from ending the other.
“I concept I was once in his head, and then he got here again even stronger,” Volkanovski said. “Credit to him. … It’s simply preparation. I’m a regular human being. Hard work received me to the place I am. Everyone can do what I’ve done.”
Volkanovski generally managed the first two rounds with his ordinary brilliant work price and striking, however a bloodied Ortega knocked him down dramatically with a left hand in the 0.33 round.
Ortega pounced and almost completed the champ with a guillotine choke, however Volkanovski willed his way out of it and acquired again on pinnacle — solely for Ortega to get away and to entice Volkanovski in a triangle choke that the champ additionally barely escaped.
Ortega was once allowed to proceed after a go to from the ringside medical doctor regardless of his curiously damaged nose. In the fourth, Ortega received some other takedown and almost landed some other choke,
however Volkanovski gave a thumbs-up to the referee earlier than escaping and ending the spherical raining blows down on a inclined Ortega, whose face used to be bloodied again.
Volkanovski completed the fifth spherical strong, and each warring parties obtained more than one standing ovations.
“I idea he was once done,” Ortega said. “I used to be making an attempt to go for his head, however he’s hard as hell. I tried to end him. I heard him gargling, however he slipped out. He’s the champ for a reason.”
Shevchenko (22-3) cemented her fame as one of MMA’s most dominant champions with her eighth consecutive victory over the closing 4 years, which includes six stoppages. The champion from Kyrgyzstan step by step wore down Murphy (15-5)
over the first three rounds earlier than amazing Murphy with a proper hook and then battering her throughout the cage and onto the canvas, the place she finished with punches and elbows on the ground.
The 38-year-old Murphy had gained 5 straight bouts on account that July 2018 to earn the first UFC title shot of her late-blooming MMA career. Yet she used to be little greater than a difficult sparring fit for Shevchenko, who hasn’t misplaced to absolutely everyone in the previous eleven years, besides two-belt champion Amanda Nunes.
The raucous Vegas crowd cheered the loudest for Diaz (26-10), a wildly famous 38-year-old fighter who walked away from the game in early 2015.
In his return, Diaz traded a excessive extent of strikes with Lawler (29-15) for two interesting rounds at some stage in his return at T-Mobile Arena. But Diaz then crumpled awkwardly to his knees after Lawler caught him with a take a look at proper hook early in the third.
Diaz rolled onto his again when Lawler hit him once more with a left hand, however Lawler declined to go to the floor with Diaz, as an alternative gesturing at him to get up. The referee then spoke to Diaz, who indicated he wouldn’t or couldn’t go on forty four seconds into the 1/3 round.
Afterward, Diaz disclosed he may have injured his knee, however made no excuses or apologies for his overall performance in his return.
“I’m satisfied at least I put on a show,” Diaz said. “I knew I had it coming. There used to be a lot of stress coming into this one. … I don’t have any excuses. It was once a lengthy time off.”
The 39-year-old Lawler ended his personal four-fight dropping streak by way of triumphing the rematch of these MMA pioneers’ famed 2004 assembly at UFC forty seven Diaz stopped Lawler in that bout for one of his most memorable victories.
Lawler seemed to be lots sharper in the rematch than Diaz, who in the end discovered a putting rhythm late in the first spherical earlier than tiring in the second.
“It was once a exciting fight, and that’s the stuff I like to do,” Lawler said.
Diaz is a former Strikeforce welterweight champion and a cherished MMA iconoclast who competed in some of the most memorable bouts of the 2000s earlier than on foot away from the game after his loss in January 2015 to Anderson Silva, his 1/3 straight defeat.
Diaz nevertheless claims he doesn’t experience MMA competition, and he backed up his phrases by means of refusing the UFC’s moneymaking presents for six years. His absence solely boosted his reputation amongst followers who adore his antiauthoritarian attitudes and tough-guy image.
Lawler is additionally a veteran with a embellished career, which include a stint as the UFC’s welterweight champion from 2014-16. Lawler had diminished in latest years, dropping 5 of six bouts heading into this rematch with Diaz.