It’s time to stop doubting UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
While a pair of extremely competitive fights with fan favorite Max Holloway didn’t seem to earn Volkanovski the credit he likely deserved as a UFC titleholder, his latest victory was nothing short of a star-making performance.
At UFC 266, Volkanovski (23-1 MMA, 10-0 UFC) turned in a largely dominant effort that also saw his character tested when he was forced to battle out of a third-round guillotine choke from Brian Ortega (15-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) that seemed destined to end the fight. “The Great” later admitted the choke was incredibly tight but that he refused to cede his title and simply gutted his way out of the hold.
Ortega showed his heart, as well, refusing to quit despite being absolutely battered over the course of 25 minutes, earning the pair a “Fight of the Night” bonus in a matchup that will likely find its way on some “Fight of the Year” lists in a few months’ time.
With the incredible win, Volkanovski reclaims the No. 1 spot at 145 pounds in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie featherweight rankings, and he also climbs to No. 6 in the pound-for-pound list, as well.
Of course, Volkanovski wasn’t the only fighter to make a move after UFC 266. Bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili (14-4 MMA, 7-2 UFC) and women’s flyweight Taila Santos (18-1 MMA, 3-1 UFC) also made major strides with their wins at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
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UFC 266: Best photos from Las Vegas
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