UFC 266: Volkanovski vs. Ortega Full Card Betting Guide

With the a loaded 13-fight card, UFC 266 provides us bettors with plenty of value to find as a pair of title fights and a rematch 17 years in the making highlight the Saturday, Sept. 25, event.

At T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Alexander Volkanovski defends his featherweight belt against Brian Ortega, Valentina Shevchenko seeks another defense of her flyweight belt against Lauren Murphy, and Nick Diaz returns after six years away to face Robbie Lawler.

The card begins at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+, with the pay-per-view starting at the traditional 10 p.m. ET.

Check out the Full Card Preview for Matt and Craig’s comprehensive analysis of every fight on the card. Also tune in for Question Mark Kicks at 4 p.m. ET, live on YouTube. Then join Matt and Craig on the Fight Companion, which goes live alongside the main card.

Best Bets

Omar Morales (-154) — The pressure striking of the “Venezuelan Fighter” should give Jonathan Pearce loads of problems in this curtain-jerker. Morales’ lone loss to Giga Chikadze continues to look better.

Matthew Semelsberger inside the distance (-186) — I’m throwing max units at this bet. Martin Sano hasn’t won a fight in seven years, is 4-2-1, and only has this bout because Nick Diaz requested it. Semelsberger will find a finish, and probably early. Put Semelsberger on all your parlays this weekend.

Chris Daukaus (-205) — The smaller-than-most heavyweight is light on his feet, quick with his hands and has the grappling acumen to threaten any opponent. Shamil Abdurakhimov is a stiff test, but Daukaus is on his way to becoming a big star in the heavyweight division.

Alexander Volkanovski (-189) — Volkanovski has looked unbeatable during his UFC tenure. He excels in every aspect of fighting; he’s defensively sound; he doesn’t make mistakes. So where is Brian Ortega’s path to victory? A possible submission from the clinch, perhaps (that prop is at +478), but Volkanovski should patiently pick apart Ortega on the way to the title defense.

Pop and Popcorn Fights

Roxanne Modafferi (+317) vs. Taila Santos (-411) — I can never find it in myself to bet against “The Happy Warrior”. She’s an incredible person and pioneer of women’s MMA. Santos is the clear favorite for a reason, but never count out Modafferi and her wonky striking and unique style.

Dan Hooker (-154) vs. Nasrat Haqparast (+130) — Tip of the cap to both fighters for working through visa issues to make it to Vegas this week, and then go out and make weight too. It’s a testament to both of these guys’ professionalism. But the circumstances leading up to this fight gives me pause betting one way or the other.

Jessica Andrade (-242) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (+195) — Andrade’s physicality will give her a lot of advantages in this fight against Cynthia Calvillo. But Calvillo’s submission ability and the toll Andrade’s run to the top has taken cast doubt for me betting on this one.

Underdogs to Consider

Jalin Turner (+105) — In a matchup between long, rangy strikers, I side with Turner’s five UFC fights over Uros Medic’s one.

Nick Diaz (+135) — He hasn’t stepped into the Octagon in six years and his comments this week are concerning to say the least. But on fight night, Diaz always brings it. Against Robbie Lawler, he has a path to victory and that’s what you seek when betting underdogs. Sprinkle a little on Diaz by submission at +874.

Intriguing Props

Nick Maximov by submission (+276) — The accomplished grappler will have plenty of opportunity to catch an arm or neck against the wrestling-heavy approach of short-notice replacement Cody Brundage.

Merab Dvalishvili by decision (+105) — Dvalishvili knows what he’s good at and sticks to it. That should give him plenty of success against Marlon Moraes, who might be the latest victim of Dvalishvili’s wrestling-heavy approach.

Curtis Blaydes inside the distance (+111) — If Blaydes can avoid the one power punch of Jairzinho Rozenstruik, he’s going to dominate “Bigi Boy” on the ground. Whether it’s by rear-naked choke or ground and pound, Blaydes can end this early.

Valentina Shevchenko by decision (+211) — Shevchenko will beat Lauren Murphy. Let’s get that out of the way. But “Lucky” is criminally underrated and is tough as nails. She will not leave the Octagon unless she’s unconscious or the ref intervenes. I see this playing out very similar to Amanda Nunes’ decision win over Felicia Spencer. Nunes won, but Spencer earned a ton of respect.

Parlay of the Night

Omar Morales (-154), Matthew Semelsberger (-504), Curtis Blaydes (-324), Alexander Volkanovski (-189)+295

Add Merab Dvalishvili to boost odds to +450.

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