UFC 266 will officially feature a pair of title fights at the top of the bill.
UFC president Dana White confirmed to promotion broadcast partner ESPN on Tuesday that a featherweight clash pitting reigning champ Alexander Volkanovski against Brian Ortega will serve as the evening’s headliner, while Valentina Shevchenko will defend her flyweight crown against Lauren Murphy.
UFC 266 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Sept. 25 and will also see Nick Diaz return for the first time since 2015 in a five-round, non-title matchup with Robbie Lawler.
Volkanovski was originally slated to defend his belt against Ortega at UFC 260 on March 27, but the Australian champion tested positive for COVID-19 to put that matchup on hold. The two featherweights were then tabbed as coaches on Season 29 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Volkanovski is currently on a 19-bout professional winning streak that includes nine triumphs in the UFC. He claimed 145-pound gold with a five-round verdict over Max Holloway at UFC 245 and made his first defense with a split-decision triumph over the Hawaiian in a rematch at UFC 251.
After falling to Holloway via four-round doctor stoppage in a title bout at UFC 231, Ortega rebounded to outpointed Chan Sung Jung in the UFC Fight Night 180 headliner this past October. “T-City” has lost just once in 17 professional outings and owns other notable triumphs over the likes of Frankie Edgar, Cub Swanson, Renato Carneiro and Clay Guida.
Shevchenko continued her dominant reign at flyweight at UFC 261, where she defeated former strawweight queen Jessica Andrade via second-round TKO on April 24. The former bantamweight title challenger is 7-0 at 125 pounds with five successful title defenses to her credit.
A former Invicta FC title holder, Murphy has won five straight in the Octagon after dropping four of her first six appearances within the Las Vegas-based promotion. Most recently, the 37-year-old known as “Lucky” captured a split-decision win against Joanne Calderwood at UFC 263 on June 12.