Alexander Volkanovski puts his UFC featherweight title on the line at UFC 266 against the dangerous Brian Ortega.
With two losses between them, the class is there for everyone to see. UFC betting odds have the title holder as a favorite, but we think the challenger could prove too powerful for the Australian.
Ortega Deserves Another Chance
Brian Ortega had a chance to win the title in 2018 when losing by TKO to Max Holloway, but his effort to beat the Korean Zombie was to be commended.
The 30-year-old took a year off before fighting Chan Sung Jung at UFC Fight Night in October. The five-round decision victory was convincing, despite the lack of a highlight finish.
Ortega has beaten the likes of Frankie Edgar, Cub Swanson, and Renato Moicano, so he deserves all the credit he gets.
He’s not the most technically gifted fighter, but he doesn’t lack heart.
“I see the game, I play the game,” Ortega told MMA Fighting. “I’m climbing this technical mountain, to speak. These guys are already there. They’re far beyond me, I admit that, like some technical sh*t. But when I get in there, I’m different. There’s some things you can’t teach through technique.”
Brian Ortega was drilling the elbow before the TKZ fight 😳 pic.twitter.com/KgcEwyXaDS
— ᴛʜᴇᴀʀᴛᴏꜰᴡᴀʀ🗿🏝 (@TheArtOfWar6) September 13, 2021
Although it’s never wise to look past your next opponent, Ortega is already eyeing a return meeting against Holloway.
“I’m not trying to speak ahead or get past Volkanovski because he beat Max twice, so I’m not here to already start celebrating but that would be ideal. I’m a better person, better fighter than I was when I fought him and watched his last fight, so is he,” Ortega added.
We believe Ortega could be a champion in waiting. He’s still young, so even if he loses on Saturday, he’ll likely get another chance. However, the sportsbook is offering value odds this time around and the +140 could be worth taking.
Volkanovski Continues to Defy
When it looks like Alexander Volkanovski looks beat, he somehow manages to get the judges’ decision.
That was the case when he fought Holloway, but a steady barrage of leg kicks is what could have tipped the scales in his favor. Either way, we think the Australian will need to be better against Ortega.
He hasn’t lost since arriving in the UFC in 2016, which is an impressive record. His last three wins came via decision, but he has knocked out the likes of Chad Mendes and Jeremy Kennedy, so he can end the fight.
Alexander Volkanovski vs Brian Ortega!
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) September 20, 2021
However, we see this fight over the full five rounds. Bet online markets have over 4½ at -130, so we’re not alone in thinking it will go the distance. That plays into Volkanovski’s strategy, as he’ll land a steady dose of strikes and leg kicks.
’I’ve already proved I’m the best featherweight in the world,” Volkanovski said. “But as you can see, sometimes that’s not enough. “And don’t get me wrong, there are a s–tload of people out there who do understand my skills.
“Who understands I’m levels ahead of most guys in this division.
“But there are others who are drawn only to the crazy moments. The highlight-reel finishes.
“And so I want to capture those casual fans who are just looking for violence
“You can mop the floor with someone over five rounds, but it’s the guy who get the big finish people remember. So once Ortega is tired, I’m going to take advantage of that.”
Confidence is something the champion doesn’t lack and bettors have come for him. He is currently -170 to retain his title and remain undefeated in the UFC.
Volkanovski vs Ortega Pick
It’s a risk to back Brian Ortega, but we think this is his moment to show the world his ability.
The American has the goods to become a UFC champion and we don’t think he’ll get a better chance to wear the belt.
Bettors get value odds and our UFC best bets have Ortega winning with a late right hand, sending Volkanovski to the canvas.
We don’t think Ortega winning would be much of an upset, so the +140 is worth snapping up.