This past Saturday in the main event of UFC 266, Alexander Volkanovski (23-1) defended his featherweight title against Brian Ortega (15-2, 1 NC). Ortega was getting his second crack at UFC gold while Volkanovski was trying to defend for the second time.
When this fight was first announced, I really liked Ortega’s chances. The Brian Ortega that fought Chan Sung Jung last year looked like he could be the guy to take out Volkanovski. Or, so I thought.
Volkanovski has had an interesting run so for as UFC champion. He did the unthinkable when he defeated Max Holloway (22-6) to win the title. Then he barely edged out Holloway in the second fight to retain.
However, the split decision nature of the second fight has casted some doubts regarding his status as UFC champion. Well, Saturday night he did a pretty damn good job of silencing those who casted doubt.
From the opening bell, Volkanovski controlled the fight. Sensational feints and pinpoint striking had Ortega flustered throughout the fight. However, there was one moment where the fight almost went to Ortega.
Ortega locked in a mounted guillotine in the third round. It was so deep that I was tapping from my chair at home. However, the UFC champion gutted it out and survived. Ultimately, he won a lopsided unanimous decision.
What’s next after UFC 266?
Volkanovski now finds himself in an interesting spot after UFC 266. To me, the clear option for his next opponent is the trilogy with Max Holloway. However, Holloway has a fight with Yair Rodriguez in November so there’s likely going to be a layoff for the champ.
Nobody is expecting Holloway to have troubles with Yair Rodriguez so I think the plan is already in place for the UFC to do the trilogy. However, there could be an outside the box idea that could get considered.
Henry Cejudo (16-2) continues to tease a comeback. The former two-division UFC champion and Olympic Gold Medalist retired last year after defending his bantamweight crown. He’s talked about his desire to capture a belt in three weight classes which has never been done.
I do not expect the UFC to go in this direction, but I wouldn’t dismiss it either. If Volkanovski wants to fight relatively close to the beginning of the year, they might have to go a different direction than Holloway. That direction could be the King of Cringe.