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UFC 266 predictions: Picking winners for each fight on the card

UFC 266 has a lot going for it, and we’re here to simplify it. Picks, analysis, and all the info you need.

Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler face off during the UFC 266 Press Conference at Park Theater at Park MGM on September 23, 2021 Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

UFC 266 is a 14-fight card taking place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The early preliminary card kicks off at 5 p.m. ET. The main card action starts at 10 p.m. ET and below we outline the entire blowout event.

Main card

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega, for Volkanovski’s featherweight championship

Winner: Alexander Volkanovski

A man with pressure, a gas tank that can’t quit, and a chronically underrated reputation going up against a fan favorite with a history of being broken down? Yeah, it sounds like a recipe for another impressive Volkanovski performance. Ortega will find no grappling salvation against the relentless pressure of the champion.

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy, for Shevchenko’s flyweight championship

Winner: Shevchenko

Call me a Shevchenko bandwagoner, but she has been utterly impressive in recent outings. The former Muay Thai standout has a (predictably) killer clinch and razor sharp hands that have picked apart better opponents than Lauren Murphy in the past. Until a bigger, stronger opponent comes along, I won’t be going against Shevchenko.

Nick Diaz vs. #15 Robbie Lawler, welterweight

Winner: Lawler

Although both men are clearly past their prime, and a winner is likely to be declared within the first round, I believe Lawler’s sharper boxing will be the deciding factor when an older, heavier Diaz attempts to rush forward and eat punches as his main form of defense.

#4 Curtis Blaydes vs. #6 Jairzinho Rozenstruik, heavyweight

Winner: Blaydes

Unless Rozenstruick wins this within one round, his chances diminish significantly. Although I believe in his punching power, I doubt Rozenstruick’s chances to actually land any of that power on a fighter capable and willing to drag this into clinches, takedowns, scrambles, and anywhere else that isn’t the feet.

#1 Jessica Andrade vs. #5 Cynthia Calvillo, flyweight

Winner: Andrade

The stronger, more experienced former champion on Saturday night may have ran into some recent struggles against the best of the division, but sees a graceful step down in competition against Calvillo. Considering Calvillo’s fast feet, a stoppage may be hard for the powerful but plodding Andrade to elicit, but I nonetheless expect her pressure and aggression to earn her more than enough points to secure victory.

Preliminary card

#6 Marlon Moraes vs. #11 Merab Dvalishvili, bantamweight

Winner: Dvalishvili

#8 Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast, lightweight

Winner: Haqparast

#7 Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. #10 Chris Daukaus, heavyweight

Winner: Daukaus

#9 Roxanne Modafferi vs. #12 Taila Santos, women’s flyweight

Winner: Santos

Early preliminary card

Uros Medic vs. Jalin Turner, lightweight

Winner: Turner

Cody Brundage vs. Nick Maximov, middleweight

Winner: Maximov

Matthew Semelsberger vs. Martin Sano, welterweight

Winner: Semelsberger

Jonathan Pearce vs. Omar Antonio Morales Ferrer, featherweight

Winner: Morales