Why cannot it be like this all nights of struggle? Why are we in the trashy melodrama if we can excite our thoughts and endorphins by the evening of battle as we just saw at the UFC 266?
In the main event, Alexander Volkanovski faced another obstacle, as he silently did for years waiting for anyone to notice. The 20th consecutive victory for the Aussie, a gory hammering of featherweight defendant Brian Ortega, was a five-round struggle in which the champion twice had to escape close efforts by the jiu-jitsu fighter. This triumph might eventually attract a bit more notice to the “Alexander The Great” – even with two documented victories against Max Holloway.
UFC 266 amazing actual battles are Volkanovski, Shevchenko and Nick Diaz
The co-main event was another good spectacle. Valentina Shevchenko has shown her performances as maybe the dominant flyweight champion in a fourth-round TKO, Lauren Murphy. No boxer is defeated on a certain night, but there is not just a 125-pounder who seems to be able to push him. She was thrilled to look, even as a -1.500 betting favourite, till she talked with the crowd in four languages. What can she not do? What can she not do?
However, Nick Diaz was the star of the night. We could have forgotten after his 6 years without battling that he is a genius to extract every feeling from all of us. He reminded us by fighting Robbie Lawler, who set the clock somewhat back. Not before their first encounter 17 years ago, but perhaps at a period when Lawler wasn’t bogged down in a losing four-bout skid and Diaz’ will to fight wasn’t questioned UFC
None of Diaz nor Lawler appeared to be in his prime, but this dismal show some would have feared was not. Lawler had the TKO in the third round, following a stubborn back and forth that reached deafening heights with a T-Mobile Arena. Here is the hope that both guys were pouring from all the corners of the building with fan love. Saturday evening was no different, they always kept it true.
Those three battles were only the conclusion of an important night in combat sports. At a time when the Youtuber-as-Boxer trend takes its place from a distance to at least a sports affiliate, a night of genuine battles is no more a luxury. MMA must maintain its position in the scene – and boxing is also an essential element. Anthony Joshua, the champions of heavyweight, throned Oleksandr Usyk earlier that day, before 66,000 London spectators.
However, UFC 266 was a lengthy combat feast. There were battles between ranking fighters both in heavyweight (Jairzinho Rozentruik dominated Curtis Blaydes) and in the feminine flyweight before the two title bands and the Diaz comeback (Jessica Andrade knocked out Cynthia Calvillo). We also watched Meraab Dvalishvili rebound from the edge of the Marlon Moraes knock-out to turn things around for his own TKO win – a triple dam of unanswered blows. We saw Meraab Dvalishvili come back.