Under The Radar Fights To Look Out For On UFC 266

With the card headlined by 2 title fights, seeing the end to the 29th season of The Ultimate Fighter as Alexander "The Great" Volkanovski (22-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC) defends his title against arguably the prettiest featherweight on the roster and former title challenger Brian "T-City" Ortega (15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) after outclassing TKZ over five rounds with a dominant Unanimous decision win as a rebound to his beatdown loss to Max Holloway back at UFC 231. The long-standing flyweight queen Valentina "Bullet" Shevchenko (21-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) has wiped out almost everyone in the division with her only UFC losses to the best female fighter of all time Amanda Nunes. With a newfound mean streak with 3 KO/TKO's in her last 5, Lauren "Lucky" Murphy (15-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC) needs to be lucky to even stand a chance against Shevchenko. With a four-fight win streak with decision wins over Andrea Lee and Joanne Calderwood, maybe she can find the perfect game plan to earn herself the UFC flyweight championship, but there are just levels to the sport of MMA. But the people's main event sees the return of Nick Diaz after a six-year layoff to face off against former UFC Welterweight champion "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler (28-15 MMA,13-9 UFC), which happens to be a rematch from a 2004 matchup with Diaz pulling away with a 2nd Round KO. Even on a four-fight losing streak and 1-5 in his last 6, Lawler, in his prime, fought a who's who of the Welterweight division and holds two of the best title fights of all time against Carlos Condit and Rory McDonald. Both men are deep into their 30's and out of their primes, but it is a fun scrap and a sight to see Nick Diaz back into the UFC octagon again. Many eyes are glued onto the fights that top the card but other fights on the early prelims and the prelims that will produce fireworks with lesser-known names to the fans and media alike.

Uros Medic V.S Jalin Turner

"The Doctor," as Medic is called, made a big splash in his UFC debut with a 1st Round TKO over Aalon Cruz back in March. The 28-year-old undefeated prospect out of Serbia, he earned a UFC contract and kept up his 100% finishing rate on the first week of Season 4 of Dana White's Contender Series with a 1st Round TKO win over Mikey Gonzalez. With a perfect record of 7 wins and no defeats, Medic is primed to be the next big prospect with a few more fights on his record, with very strong pressure with kicks and punches and surprising power at 155; the future looks super bright if he can get past his next opponent. The opponent, however, is Jalin "The Tarantula" Turner (10-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC), who made his UFC debut and got the short end of the stick and got matched up with "The Silent Assassin" Vicente Luque and lost via 1st Round KO, however after the rough start in his debut, he has won 3 out of his last 4 with three stoppage wins over Callan Potter, Josh Culibao and most recently Brok Weaver. He came into the UFC with a doctor's stoppage victory on the Contender Series against Max Mustaki and came in with very strong striking. His skill set has become more well-rounded, shown against Brok Weaver with not only knocking him down twice on the feet but took him down and earned his first-ever submission win in the 2nd by Rear Naked Choke. This matchup screams stand-up affair but don't be shocked if Turner shoots if the timing is right. The UFC wants to see Medic reach the next level, but Turner might play spoiler. With Medic and Turner both having similar striking styles, only Medic throws kicks more often, and Turner prefers to stay at the end of his punches. It will be fireworks on the feet, and no matter the outcome, both men's stocks are likely to go up after the bout.

Nick Maximov V.S Karl Roberson (Now Cody Brundage)

In a classic striker versus grappler matchup, it pits former Glory kickboxer Karl "Baby K" Roberson (9-4 MMA, 4-4 UFC) against light heavyweight prospect with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt and trains under the Diaz brothers at the Nick Diaz academy Nick Maximov. He might only have a brown belt but has shown time and time again on Submission Underground that he has the ability to tap out even the highest of black belts with the tutelage of Nick and Nate Diaz as well wrestling in college for Clackamas Community College. With an undefeated record of 6-0 and only at the age of 23, his wrestling based and very strong ground game can lead Maximov to a lengthy tenure in the UFC, but it is not an easy debut fight for the fighter out of Chico, California because in his way is an established kickboxer and arguably holds a win over all-time kickboxing legend Jerome LeBanner. Roberson fought his way into the UFC with a 16 second knockout against former RFA and currently ranked #11, light heavyweight, in the world Ryan Spann where Spann shot for a takedown, and Roberson threw elbows down at the side of Spann's head and got the finish along with a UFC contract. Coming in flaming hot with an undefeated 5-0 record and in his debut submitting former Cage Warriors star Darren "The Dentist" Stewart via 1st Round Rear Naked Choke. However, Roberson would suffer his first professional defeat against TUF Season 1 winner and UFC and PFL veteran Cezar Ferreira and has gone on to amass a 3-3 since the Ferreira lose and has not seemed to get over the hump with all three losses being submission losses to #2 ranked light heavyweight Glover Teixeira, former UFC middleweight title challenger Marvin Vettori and most recently a 1st Round heel hook loss to former LFA Middleweight champion Brendan Allen. A win over the UFC newcomer Maximov would put Roberson back on track with a much-needed win. Roberson by far has the standing advantage but can his wrestling and ground game hold up to Maximov's intelligent attack? This is why you should watch the prelims. With Roberson out of his bout as of 9/22, DWCS alum Cody Brundage makes his UFC debut on only a week's notice against the debuting Maximov.

Shamil Abdurakhimov V.S Chris Daukaus

Looks like the 3rd time is a charm when it comes to this matchup of top 15 heavyweights after the first two scheduled bouts fell through due to complications with Covid-19. The police officer from Philadelphia, Chris Daukaus (11-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC), steaked his claim into the heavyweight's top 15 with a 1st Round TKO to MMA veteran and submission specialist Aleksei Oleinik back in February and is riding a three-fight KO/TKO streak since entering the promotion back in August of 2020 with a 1st Round TKO over Parker Porter, being listed as one of the main faces for the "new generation" of heavyweights like current UFC interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane and rising UK star and the #11 ranked heavyweight in the world Tom Aspinall. To solidify himself as one of the new faces of the division, he has to "get out with the old" and beat Shamil Abdurakhimov (20-5 MMA, 5-3 UFC). The 40-year-old holds wins over names like Chase Sherman, current #8 heavyweight Marcin Tybura and former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski and is no easy matchup for anyone in the division fighting the likes of Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis to headline a Fight Night card back in 2016. He is more or less standing in as a "gatekeeper" of sorts in this, used as a test to see if younger contenders are legit; many gatekeepers include names such as Derek Brunson (who now is making a significant title push with a five-fight win streak), Eddie Wineland and most famously Michael Bisping. With Shamil on his last legs for his MMA career and entering his 40's, this is his last shot towards the UFC heavyweight strap. His last fight was a 2nd round TKO loss to Curtis Blaydes back at UFC 242 in 2019. Two bouts with Ciryl Gane, a fight with Augusto Sakai, and the last two attempts with Daukuas all fell through, so ring rust realistically can be a massive issue for Shamil against Chris, who last fought only seven months ago. Shamil has fought at the highest of levels for years and has more experience compared to Daukaus, but Daukaus has enough power on the feet to stop the fight wherever he pleases, but Abdurakhimov is as game as they come.

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