UFC 266

Robbie Lawler (left) and Nick Diaz (right) both land punches at UFC 266.

Matchmaker Monday following UFC 266

UFC 266 was a memorable night for the sports biggest promotion as it had a great fight in the main event, a dominant champ in the co-main event and the return of a star also on the main card.

The main event saw a classic in which Alexander Volkanovski defended his title in a crazy 25 minute contest with Brian Ortega.

Valentina Shevchenko once again looked unstoppable in the co-main event has she stopped Lauren Murphy in the fourth round.

Finally, Nick Diaz returned to the octagon facing Robbie Lawler in a rematch of their fight 17 years ago. The 2021 meeting was much different than the first for multiple reasons, but the biggest difference was the outcome has Lawler evened the score with Diaz by earning a TKO win in the third round.

Now that the event is over lets find out what’s next for these fighters on this edition of Matchmaker Monday.

Alexander Volkanovski
Result: defeated Brian Ortega by unanimous decision at UFC 266
Next: Yair Rodriguez or Korean Zombie (maybe Max Holloway)

<em><strong>Alexander Volkanovski left and Brian Ortega right each land a punch in the main event of UFC 266<strong><em>

The road to featherweight gold still through Volkanovski after a great performance.

As for his next fight, God only knows.

At some point the UFC is going to have to consider giving Max Holloway a third crack at Volkanovski, but a trilogy when someone is down 0-2 is rare.

Holloway is fighting Rodriguez in November and if Rodriguez wins then he is absolutely next. If Holloway wins, it’ll between him and the Korean Zombie for the next shot.

Either way, look for the UFC to try and get this division moving a little bit more as this was Volkanovski’s first appearance in over a year.

Brian Ortega
Result: lost to Alexander Volkanovski by unanimous decision at UFC 266
Next: loser of Holloway and Rodriguez

Have to give credit to Ortega. He’s tough and he almost found a way to win that fight as he had three submission attempts that seemed to be close. Regardless, he still lost the fight and will have to work back to title fight.

The road back likely starts with the loser of Holloway and Rodriguez as Ortega has never fought Rodriguez and he only fought Holloway once in which he lost in what was also a championship defeat for Ortega.

One thing that can change up his opponent is time off. Ortega had some damage after the fight and might be out for some time.

Valentina Shevchenko
Result: defeated Lauren Murphy by fourth-round TKO at UFC 266
Next: Katlyn Chookagian

<em><strong>Valentina Shevchenko celebrates after defeating Lauren Murphy at UFC 266<strong><em>

Shevchenko doesn’t appear to be losing that belt anytime soon.

She’s at the point now where she is going start going through opponents for a second time. As for the next opponent to get a second crack at the flyweight queen, Chookagian might be the front runner.

She’s been in the division since it’s started and already climbed the mountain to get a title fight once. Right now she’s No. 2 in the official UFC flyweight rankings. The only person ranked above her is Jessica Andrade, who lost to Shevchenko earlier this year.

A wildcard is Jennifer Maia, who won a round against Shevchenko. Yes, Shevchenko is so dominant that winning a round against her gives reason for a rematch.

Lauren Murphy
Result: lost to Valentina Shevchenko by fourth-round TKO at UFC 266
Next: Jessica Andrade

Murphy deserved the title fight given her at the time winning streak and the fact that she got skipped over a few times.

If she wants to earn another title fight, she should have a great opportunity in her next fight.

Up next, a fight with Andrade makes sense. They are both the last two victims of Shevchenko and ranked No. 1 and No. 3 in the division. The winner of the fight would earn another shot at UFC gold.

Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler
Result: Lawler won by third-round TKO at UFC 266
Next: retirement

UFC 266
<em><strong>Robbie Lawler left and Nick Diaz right both land punches at UFC 266<strong><em>

This fight was hyped up and the outcome was clear. Both guys are way past their primes and really shouldn’t be doing this anymore.

Both fighter have done a lot for the sport, but their time has come and gone. I’m sure they will fight again, but the UFC should really start looking at telling them it’s time to hang it up.

It was clear that both men were slow and sloppy. Their health must start being priority.

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John Eric Poli