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MMA Sucka’s UFC 266 Staff Picks

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The UFC brings a stacked card to fight fans tonight with UFC 266, happening live from the T-Mobile Arena in the “Fight Capital of the World”: Las Vegas, Nevada. Tonight’s main card will begin at 10:00pm ET/7:00pm PT live on pay-per-view for those subscribed to ESPN+.

UFC 266 Fights

The UFC 266 main event is for the featherweight title, as champion Alexander Volkanovski tries to make his second title defense against “T-City” Brian Ortega. Volkanovski’s last two fights have been close decision victories to take and defend the belt against Max Holloway. Ortega gets his second shot at UFC gold tonight after losing to Holloway back in 2018, but rebounded with a dominant decision victory over “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung last October to earn another chance.

The co-main event is for the women’s flyweight championship, as dominant champion Valentina Shevchenko looks to tie Ronda Rousey for the most title defenses by a woman. Standing in her way is “Lucky” Lauren Murphy, whose five-fight winning streak has surged her into the upper echelon of the division.

The middleweight five-round feature fight is a rematch 17 years in the making. Cult fan favorite Nick Diaz returns to action for the first time since January 2015 as he takes on former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. Diaz will be looking for his first win in nearly a decade, while “Ruthless” has lost four in a row and five of his last six.

Rounding out the main card are two fights featuring high-level contenders in their respective divisions. Heavyweights Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik face off in a classic Grappler versus Striker bout. “Razor” Blaydes will be looking to rebound from a brutal KO loss in his last outing against “Bigi Boy” Rozenstruik, who has split wins and losses in his last four.

Kicking off the main card is a top-five matchup between two former strawweights, as former UFC strawweight champion Jessica Andrade faces Cynthia Calvillo. Both fighters are looking to rebound from a loss in their most recent fight.

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Staff Picks

Throughout the calendar year, staff picks will be composed of main card fights from both UFC and Bellator events. Main card fights and selected preliminary fights will be selected for PFL MMA. Dana White’s Contender Series will be composed of the full fight card.

The WINNER of staff picks in 2021 will have a choice between receiving a custom-made championship belt from ProAmBelts or a chain from Championship Chains. For the third straight year, Michael DeSantis captured the 2020 victory compiling a record of 201-88.

See our UFC 266 staff picks below.


Staff Records after Dana White’s Contender Series 40

1. Nate Freeman: 168-97
2. Wesley Riddle: 165-100
3. Michael DeSantis: 163-102
4. Frazer Krohn: 152-113
5T. Ash Camyab: 143-103
5T. Jeremy Brand: 143-122
6. Mike Lynch: 142-113
7. Andrew Benjamin: 115-118
8. Mitchell Banuelos: 107-89
9. Tim Wheaton: 100-78
10. Brandon Joint: 71-36
11. Matt Bricker: 57-57
12. Chris Presnell: 47-22
13. Amanda Grace: 13-8
14T. Steven Irvine: 9-7
14T. Al Mac: 9-2

*Note – not all staff pick for every event*


Jessica Andrade (21-9) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (9-2-1)

Jeremy Brand: Calvillo via Unanimous Decision
Wesley Riddle: Andrade via Unanimous Decision
Michael DeSantis: Andrade via Round 1 TKO
Ash Camyab: Andrade via Round 2 KO
Andrew Benjamin: Andrade via Round 1 KO
Frazer Krohn: Andrade via Round 2 TKO
Mike Lynch: Andrade via TKO
Nate Freeman: Andrade via Unanimous Decision
Tim Wheaton: Calvillo via Unanimous Decision
Chris Presnell: Andrade via Round 1 TKO

Staff picking Andrade: 8
Staff picking Calvillo: 2


Curtis Blaydes (14-3, 1 NC) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (12-2)

Jeremy Brand: Blaydes via Unanimous Decision
Wesley Riddle: Blaydes via Round 2 TKO
Michael DeSantis: Blaydes via Unanimous Decision
Ash Camyab: Blaydes via Round 3 TKO
Andrew Benjamin: Rozenstruik via Round 2 TKO
Frazer Krohn: Blaydes via Round 2 TKO
Mike Lynch: Blaydes via TKO
Nate Freeman: Blaydes via Unanimous Decision
Tim Wheaton: Blaydes via Round 3 TKO
Chris Presnell: Blaydes via Round 2 TKO

Staff picking Blaydes: 9
Staff picking Rozenstruik: 1


Nick Diaz (26-9, 2 NC) vs. Robbie Lawler (28-15, 1 NC)

Jeremy Brand: Lawler via Round 3 TKO
Wesley Riddle: Lawler via Round 2 TKO
Michael DeSantis: Lawler via Unanimous Decision
Ash Camyab: Lawler via Unanimous Decision
Andrew Benjamin: Lawler via Unanimous Decision
Frazer Krohn: Diaz via Split Decision
Mike Lynch: Diaz via Unanimous Decision
Nate Freeman: Lawler via Unanimous Decision
Tim Wheaton: Diaz via Unanimous Decision
Chris Presnell: Lawler via Unanimous Decision

Staff picking Diaz: 3
Staff picking Lawler: 7 


Valentina Shevchenko (21-3) vs. Lauren Murphy (15-4)

Jeremy Brand: Shevchenko via Round 2 TKO
Wesley Riddle: Shevchenko via Round 1 Submission
Michael DeSantis: Shevchenko via Round 2 TKO
Ash Camyab: Shevchenko via Round 2 Submission
Andrew Benjamin: Shevchenko via Round 1 KO
Frazer Krohn: Shevchenko via Round 3 TKO
Mike Lynch: Shevchenko via Unanimous Decision
Nate Freeman: Shevchenko via Round 2 TKO
Tim Wheaton: Shevchenko via Round 2 TKO
Chris Presnell: Shevchenko via Unanimous Decision

Staff picking Shevchenko: 10
Staff picking Murphy: 0


Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) vs. Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC)

Jeremy Brand: Volkanovski via Unanimous Decision
Wesley Riddle: Volkanovski via Round 4 TKO
Michael DeSantis: Volkanovski via Unanimous Decision
Ash Camyab: Volkanovski via Unanimous Decision
Andrew Benjamin: Volkanovski via Unanimous Decision
Frazer Krohn: Volkanovski via Unanimous Decision
Mike Lynch: Volkanovski via TKO
Nate Freeman: Volkanovski via Unanimous Decision
Tim Wheaton: Volkanovski via Round 5 TKO
Chris Presnell: Volkanovski via Unanimous Decision

Staff picking Volkanovski: 10
Staff picking Ortega: 0

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Nate Freeman is from Birmingham, AL, and has been an MMA fan since 2013 after buying UFC Undisputed 2009 for $2 from a second-hand electronics store.

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