Alexander Volkanovski is still the UFC featherweight champion, but he went through a serious battle to successfully retain that title for the second time.

In the UFC 266 main event, Volkanovski (23-1 MMA, 10-0 UFC) defeated Brian Ortega (15-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44).

The featherweight title bout took place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and ESPN+.

The first round was closely contested. Both fighters needed some time to get their footings and rhythms but once they did the technical battle amplified in quality and quantity. Each man threw with bad intentions. Some heavy strikes missed and some landed. An Ortega jab sliced Volkanovski under his left eye, but he relied heavily on his leg kicks.

The chess match resumed in Round 2 with punches and leg kicks galore exchanged. Midway through the round, Volkanovski landed perhaps his biggest combination of the fight to that moment. He tried to transition to a takedown but Ortega denied him.

Champ comin’ in HOT @AlexVolkanovski

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— UFC (@ufc) September 26, 2021

An exchange appeared to pop Volkanovksi’s ear, causing him to bleed even more. When the end-of-round horn sounded, the two fighters converged in a Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald 2-esque staredown before they were separated.

Things are getting intense after RD 2

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— UFC (@ufc) September 26, 2021

Drama struck in Round 3 when an Ortega punch connected on an off-balance Volkanovski, who fell backward. Ortega dove on top and grabbed hold of a mounted guillotine choke. Somehow, Volkanovski bucked and kicked his way out of danger. Both fighters scrambled, covered in blood. Volkanovski landed in guard, only to be met by an Ortega triangle attempt.

How’d he escape?!?! #UFC266 pic.twitter.com/0dTELGsNZx

— UFC (@ufc) September 26, 2021

Volkanovski once again expertly avoided danger. On top again, Volkanovski rained down dozens of ground-and-pound punches on Ortega, who covered up. Referee Herb Dean gave warnings, but Ortega was saved by the bell.

THIS. ROUND. IS. INSANE!!!! #UFC266 pic.twitter.com/tfzHrIjUpp

— UFC (@ufc) September 26, 2021

Swollen and busted, Ortega was examined by the cageside physician, who determined Ortega was OK to continue. In Round 4, Ortega had another chance – a guillotine choke. However, Volkanovski escaped again and exploded into full-on ground-and-pound mode while Ortega threw up triangles.

The ground-and-pound kept coming, however, as did a series of warnings by Herb Dean. Somehow, someway Ortega survived to get to his feet before the end of the round.

HEAVY shots from the champ

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— UFC (@ufc) September 26, 2021

Before the final round, Ortega once again passed the doctor’s test. Despite all of the damage absorbed, Ortega continued to put up a fight – and found success. He landed a series of punches on Volkanovski and marched forward. Volkanovski’s output wasn’t as extreme in Round 5, as the champion used his footwork to circle around the cage.

In the final seconds of the fight, Ortega landed perhaps his best shots of the fight – a pair of hard one-punch combinations that were acknowledged by Volkanovski. The siren sounded and the two fighters, who served as rival coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter,” Season 29 embraced in a showing of respect in the center of the cage.

The GREAT remains #ANDSTILL @AlexVolkanovski makes his successful second title defense! #UFC266 pic.twitter.com/kWqqrffsyM

— UFC (@ufc) September 26, 2021

With the win, Volkanovski successfully defends his title for the second time and extends his winning streak to 19. His resume now includes Ortega’s name, among others such as Max Holloway, Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, and more.

As for Ortega, the loss marks his second failed attempt in as many UFC title fights. The two title fights, which are also Ortega’s only career losses, bookend a lone victory against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung in 2020.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 266 results include:

Alexander Volkanovski def. Brian Ortega via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-44)
Valentina Shevchenko def. Lauren Murphy via TKO (strikes) – Round 4, 4:00
Robbie Lawler def. Nick Diaz via TKO (retirement) – Round 3, 0:44
Curtis Blaydes def. Jairzinho Rozenstruik via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jessica Andrade def. Cynthia Calvillo via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:54
Merab Dvalishvili def. Marlon Moraes via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:25
Dan Hooker def. Nasrat Haqparast via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Chris Daukaus def. Shamil Abdurakhimov via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 1:23
Taila Santos def. Roxanne Modafferi via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Jalin Turner def. Uros Medic via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:01
Nick Maximov def. Cody Brundage via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Matthew Semelsberger def. Martin Sano via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 0:15
Jonathan Pearce def. Omar Morales via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:31

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