Alexander Volkanovski successfully defended his featherweight title tonight at UFC 266 in a hard-fought battle with Brian Ortega, having to survive a few scares along the way, but ultimately emerging with a well-earned decision victory.
The featherweight main event title fight is underway in Las Vegas!
Missed high kick attempt from Volkanovski early. Both coming up short with their opening strikes, then Volkanovski does land a body kick.
Now a low kick for Volkanovski. Head kick attempt from Ortega is blocked. Ortega presses forward pumping out the jab without landing cleanly.
Now Ortega does land thhe jab. Leg kick from Volkanovski is checked. Punch for Volkanovski and Ortega counters it with one of his own.
Ortega with a low kick. Ortega connects cleanly with a punch. Inside leg kick from Volkanovski. Right hand counter from Volkanovski as Ortega pressed forward.
Good jab from Volkanovski snaps Ortega’s head back. Body kick from Ortega. Bothh men already sporting slight cuts.
Short left hand from Volkanovski as he bursts forward. Body kick from Volkanovski and Ortega tried to catch that, but couldn’t quite manage to do so.
Exchange in close. Left hook from Volkanovski as Ortega was working a kick. left hand lands for Ortega.
Nice stepping jab from Volkanovski. Body kick for him and Ortega briefly caught it and works a left hook counter.
Low kick for Volkanovski. Now a calf kick on the other side. Front kick to the body from Volkanovski and Ortega lands couple of punches in response.
Another low kick for Volkanovski. Left hook from him. Calf kick for him, but then Ortega throws a heavier one of his own.
Body kick for Volkanovski. leg kick from Volkanovski and then a right hand behind it. Jab for Ortega. Now a body punch.
Volkanovski gets through with a right hand. Now another lands. Jab for Ortega and then sneaks in a right hand too. Inside leg kick from Volkanovski.
Jabs from the champ then a low kick, and doubles up on that. High kick attempt from Ortega. Hard right hand for Volkanovski. Now he lands a big elbow too.
Body kick from Volkanovski and then a calf kick. Right hand from Ortega. jabs for the champ. Calf kick for Volkanovski but eats a counter punch.
One-two from Volkanovski. Body punch from Ortega. Short flurry of punches for Ortega. leg kick for the challenger.
Volkanovski bleeding from his right ear. Solid right hand lands for him. Low kick from Volkanovski is checked.
Solid elbow for Volkanovski as the round ends and then the two square off before walking back to their corners.
Right hand over the top from Ortega. Leg kick for Volkanovski. Body kick for Volkanovski and then Ortega returns with one of his own.
Leg kick for the champ. Now an inside leg kick. Body punch from Ortega. Both men starting to swing hard now. Clash of heads now and Ortega got the worst of that.
Both men land heavy leather. Ortega’s nose bleeding now from the head clash.
Ortega with a hard combo. Ortega with a crisp jab. Low kick from Volkanovski and then a clubbing right hand.
Ortega with a hard left hand that drops Volkanovski and then Ortega drops down on top of him with a very tight guillotine choke attempt.
Volkanovski in all sorts of trouble, but he’s hanging tough regardless and trying to wriggle his way out. All heart from Volkanovski and it pays off as he manages to get his head free.
Not only that but Volkanovski then manages to work on top. Remarkable stuff there and now he’s landing hard ground and pound, and Ortega is getting even more bloodied up.
However, now Ortega sets up a triangle choke attempt and it looks tight. Volkanovski in survival mode again, but he stays calm and again manages to break free.
Volkanovski back to his feet and presses forward, bringing Ortega down and blasting him with big ground and pound. The bell saves him, but Ortega takes a lot of time to get back to his feet.
The doctor checks on Ortega before the start of the fourth round. He’s clearly still struggling a bit and barely passes a check to see how many fingers are being held up, but he is allowed to continue.
Volkanovski pressing forward and landing the jab. Now a leg kick. He throws heavy leather and punches just wing past Ortega’s head.
Reaching right hand from Ortega. Left hook from Volkanovski. Now a nice jab and steps back out of range before Ortega can counter.
Ortega works for a takedown and does well to land it. Ortega seizes upon another guillotine choke attempt, but he’s in a bit of an awkward posiition and he can’t finish it.
Volkanovski escapes and get on top with half the round remaining. Volkanovski working some ground and pound, but has to be wary as Ortega is still trying to throw up submissions from his back.
Solid blow lands for Volkanovski. He lands a couple more strikes. Now he stands over Ortega and drops down some hard blows that forces Ortega to move in desperation.
Now Volkanovski goes back down and into full guard. He stands up again, then back down, before opting to stand again and walks away.
Ortega has to stand, but does so slowly. Heavy body punches from Volkanovski and then looks for more against the cage as the round ends.
Ortega said something to an official before the final round and he brings over the ref to clarify what he said, but then he says he’s ok to continue. He’s wearing a lot of damage though.
Counter jab from Volkanovski. Head kick attempt from Ortega is blocked. He tries to go to the other side but it’s blocked too.
Hard jab lands for Volkanovski. Another lighter jab and Ortega attempts a takedown that’s easily shrugged off.
Solid elbow from Volkanovski. Volkanovski steps into range but there’s another clash of heads which forces a very brief stoppage.
Ortega with a series of jabs and a right hand behind it. Volkanovski then lands a solid punch in return though.
Right and left hand for Ortega. Inside leg kick for the champ. Volkanovski stumbles momentarily, but Ortega can’t capitalize.
Right hand for Volkanovski. Right hook for Volkanovski. Now a body punch. Again a body strike. Ortega with a hard right hand.
Solid jab and another punch behind it for Volkanovski. Ortega with an uppercut. Ortega doing his best to press forward here.
Jabs for Ortega. Body-head combo from Volkanovski. Volkanovski clinches up but only briefly. Ortega catches a kick and tries a jumping knee.
Body kick for Ortega that Volkanovski partially catches and tries to counter. Jab for Volkanovski. Jabs for Otega now. He lands a hard right hand and has Volkanovski backing up as a left lands too just as the round ends.
Great fight then and Ortega had his moments, particularly in the third round, but in the end it was the champion Volkanovski who was often getting the better of the action, showed excellent submission defense when in trouble and a great gas tank on his way to a convincing unanimous decision victory (49-46, 50-45, 50-44).
This was very impressive stuff from Volkanovski. We already knew that he was a hard fighter to beat on the feet and has strong wrestling, but he’s also now proven that he’s incredibly difficult to submit too as Ortega is one of the best in the business in the position’s he tested him, yet he emerged unscathed.
As for Ortega, he perhaps had to showcase his toughness more than he would have liked in this fight, but he’s clearly still a talented fighter and there’s still ample time for him to regroup and make another title push in the future.