UFC 266 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night features not just a pair of title fights atop the bill, but one of the longest-anticipated rematches in mixed martial arts history.
The event is topped by a featherweight title fight, as Australia’s Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) puts his belt on the line against Torrance, Calif.’s Brian Ortega (15-1).
Volkanovski will make his second title defense and puts a 19-fight winning streak on the line as well. Ortega is 7-1 in the UFC, with his only blemish coming in a challenge against then-champ Max Holloway in December 2018.
With both preferring the hard-nosed, high-volume approach, this seems to come down to a battle of wills.
Volkanovski is the -180 favorite at DraftKings, where he is being backed by 65 percent of the money and 60 percent of the bets. The action is even more one-sided at PointsBet, where Volkanovski (-190) is backed by 69 percent of the money and 76 percent of the bets.
The co-feature bout is a women’s flyweight title matchup. Valentina Shevchenko (21-3), of Kyrgyzstan and Las Vegas, has reached the point in her career where her dominance is the draw, and it’s news if someone makes her sweat.
Her opponent in her sixth title defense is Houston’s Lauren Murphy (15-4), a plucky underdog who rides a five-fight winning streak into her big opportunity.
Shevchenko is the heavy -2000 favorite at DraftKings, where she is being backed by 59 percent of the money and 84 percent of the bets. She’s also a big favorite at PointsBet, although with much shorter odds at -1000 while being backed by 92 percent of the money and 91 percent of the bets.
All of this is preceded by a bout 17 years in the making, as the legendary Nick Diaz (26-9) of Stockton, Calif., returns from a near-seven-year absence to take on former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler (28-15) of Coconut Creek, Fla., in a middleweight fight.
At UFC 47 in 2004, Lawler was hyped as a future star, but the then-unheralded Diaz face-planted him with a memorable second-round knockout. Diaz went on to become one of the game’s biggest stars, while Lawler would wash out of the UFC before returning years later and finally becoming champion in 2014.
Lawler is the -145 favorite at DraftKings and -140 at PointsBet. However, Diaz (+125) is backed by 58 percent of the money and 68 percent of the bets at DraftKings while the money has been split at PointsBet and Diaz supported by 51 percent of the bets.
–Field Level Media
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