Pre-fight Analysis

Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega – UFC 266 Preview

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The main event of UFC 266 will put the featherweight title on the line with two men of iron wills; Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega. The Australian-born champion “The Great” Alexander Volkanovski will be looking to defend his UFC title against the notoriously tough “T-City” Brian Ortega.

The two, Volkanovski and Ortega, had just finished a season coaching against each other on The Ultimate Fighter. On this most recent season, both winners were from Team Volkanovski. Ricky Turcios and Welterweight and Bryan Battle at Middleweight.

Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega – UFC 266

Alexander Volkanovski (22-1-0)

The reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski has risen to the highest levels he could in MMA, the apex of his career, and yet remains one of the most disrespected champions in the UFC. He won the title in a close fight against Max Holloway, a fight which many fans scored for Holloway. So the UFC booked a rematch in which Volkanovski again defeated Holloway however many fans still say Holloway deserved to win this fight also. Commenters on Instagram and Twitter like to remind Volkanvoski of this.

He is an aggressive fighter who seeks to land his overhand and will often open with inside or outside leg kicks. Volkanovski has great fortitude and intelligence as well. He faced early adversity and knock-downs in his bouts against Holloway and Mendes, yet he never got intimated and showed great determination in battling back and winning these fights. Even though he has had some close match-ups, it’s important to note that largely his wins in the UFC have been quite dominant.

The former rugby player Alexander Volkanovski is undefeated in the UFC with impressive wins over Holloway, Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, and others. He will be looking to add another name to his record at the UFC 266 main event with Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega.

Alexander Volkanovski

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – SEPTEMBER 18: Australian UFC fighter Alex Volkanovski poses during a portrait session at Kirribilli on September 18, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Alex ‘The Great’ Volkanovski is the current UFC Featherweight Champion and is fighting Brian Ortega of the United States in the Featherweight division at UFC 266 in Las Vegas on September 26th, 2021. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images for UFC)

Brian Ortega (15-1-0 1 NC)

Born of Los Angeles, California Brian Ortega has added a series of great names to his record and will be looking to add UFC gold at UFC 266. Ortega impressively had defeated Clay Guida, Renato Moicano, Cub Swanson, Diego Brandão, and Frankie Edgar, all via KO/TKO or Submission. His submissions are trained under Rener Gracie by which Ortega is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.

He was undefeated in MMA before getting a title shot in 2018 against then-champion Holloway. Holloway put a stop to the young man forcing a doctor’s stoppage and out-landing Ortega 307 to 112 in total strikes. In this match, Ortega never quit and showed fortitude carved of iron.

Since his first UFC title shot Ortega spent some time away and came back with an impressive win over “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung. In this five-round decision win, Ortega showed patience and intelligence. Spending time working body kicks, jabs, and waiting for his openings. He scored two knockdowns in this fight and out-landed Sung Jung significantly with 127 strikes to 62. At UFC 266 in Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega, Ortega will be looking to prove himself again and walk away with UFC gold this time around.

Brian Ortega

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – APRIL 29: Coach Brian Ortega leans over the Octagon during the filming of the The Return of The Ultimate Fighter at UFC APEX on April 29, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega – Featherweight Gold

When analyzing fights we want to seek the habits of each combatant and study how their opponent reacts to these repeated habits. In the Holloway fights Alexander Volkanovski was struggling during exchange openings. Here he was caught with uppercuts and knees. This is a very similar uppercut to the one Brian Ortega knocked out Frankie Edgar with. Volkanovski made adjustments by ensuring he opened exchanges with his lightning-fast jabs, and leg kicks. Vokanovski also showed susceptibility to jabs and teep kicks to the body. Similarly, Brian Ortega was landed straight body kicks and jabs in his last bout against Sung Jung.

Brian Ortega is a very impressive offensive fighter however seems to struggle defensively. He sometimes throws counters to his opponents but more frequently he’ll turtle his guard and back away when pushed. He frequently struggles with defense to strikes. If Ortega does not open the exchange, more often than not, he will not land in that exchange. Holloway was able to exploit this to great effect in their fight. Volkanovski will be looking to exploit this and will likely be seeking to overwhelm his opponent with overhands, jabs, and leg kicks.

Both fighters in Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega will need to control the center, be the aggressor, pick their exchanges, and land first. Volkanovski will be seeking to set up exchanges with jabs, leg kicks, and feints. While Ortega will be looking to control the fight with jabs and body kicks. Both fighters have amazing offensive tools.

UFC 266 will crown the featherweight champion, either the reigning holds with Alexander Volkanovski or a new champion in Brian Ortega. Either way, the winner will next face the winner of Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez in the next featherweight title defense. Certainly a tall order. The future of featherweight continues to be chaotic. And as viewers, we’ll continue to benefit from these great fights.

Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega – Statistics

Alexander Volkanovski Brian Ortega
22-1-0 Record  15-1-0 (1 NC)
      9-0-0 UFC Record  7-1-0 (1 NC)
11 (T)KO 3
3 Sub. 7
5 ft 6 in (168 cm) Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
71 in (180 cm) Reach 69 in (175 cm)
145 Weight 145
Orthodox Stance Switch
Australia Born USA
32 Age 30
Champion Rank 2
55% Sig. Strike Accuracy 38%
60% Strike Defence 52%
6.02 Strikes Landed per Min. 4.29
3.31 Strikes Absorbed per Minute 6.29
34% Takedown Accuracy 21%
72% Takedown Defence 56%

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Tim Wheaton has been with the sport of MMA since 2005. MMA & Boxing training and fight experience. From Canada, now in Scotland.
Check him out here and twitter.com/TimWheatonMMA

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