Sep 24, 2021
Sep 24, 2021

UFC 266 preview: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega betting preview and odds

Volkanovski and Ortega stats

Volkanovski vs. Ortega predictions: Where is the value?

Volkanovski and Ortega's fighting styles analysed

UFC 266 preview: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega

In one of two title bouts taking place at UFC 266, Alexander Volkanovski will be taking on Brian Ortega for the Featherweight Championship. Can Volkanovski successfully defend his title for a second bout running, or will Ortega claim the belt on his second attempt? Read on to inform your Volkanovski vs. Ortega predictions.

Event: UFC 266

Date: September 25, 2021

Venue: T-Mobile Arena (Las Vegas, US)

Volkanovski vs. Ortega: Tale of the tape

Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski

Fighter

Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega

32

Age

30

168 cm

Height

173 cm

66 kg

Weight

66 kg

181.6 cm

Reach

175 cm

9-0-0

UFC record

7-1-0 (1 NC)

22-1-0

Overall MMA record

15-1-0 (1 NC)

55%

Striking accuracy

38%

Champion

UFC ranking

#2

As mentioned, this is one of two title bouts being held at UFC 266, with Valentina Shevchenko set to defend the Women’s Flyweight Championship against Lauren Murphy in the other.

Volkanovski enters the fight in fine form, having racked up 19 MMA and nine UFC wins in succession. He initially claimed the Featherweight belt in his second-last outing against Max Holloway at UFC 245 in December 2019, before retaining it against the same opponent at UFC 251 last July. He was originally scheduled to defend his title against Ortega at UFC 260 in March, but the bout was postponed after Volkanovski tested positive for COVID-19.

This will be Ortega’s second attempt to land the Featherweight Championship, after failing in his first against Holloway at UFC 231 in what remains the only defeat of his MMA career. The 30-year-old’s nine UFC appearances to date have deservedly caught attention by earning four Fight of the Night and two Performance of the Night awards, and he collected at least one of the two accolades in four of his last seven wins.

Volkanovski has been palpably motivated ahead of the bout, claiming “I’m coming in bigger and better than five months ago. I’ve put all the work in and I’m ready for war, so it’s down to him if he’s ready to take on everything I have to offer.”

In a similar vein, Ortega has also hinted at recent improvements, stating “I’m now a different Brian Ortega who’s more focused and well-rounded. You don’t get many of these opportunities in your career, so you’ve got to make the best out of them.”

Analysing the Volkanovski vs. Ortega odds

The betting market lists Volkanovski as the narrow favourite for this bout at 1.641*, equating to an approximate 59% chance of victory. Ortega has been priced as the underdog at 2.350*, translating to a 41% likelihood of winning on the night. The Over/Under for rounds has been set at 4.5, with 1.775* for over and 2.100* for under.

Volkanovski has been priced somewhat shorter than the average closing odds for his last five bouts of 2.034. Of these, he was the favourite on two occasions and the underdog on three, emerging victorious from all five. However, perhaps the most notable takeaway from the title holder’s recent odds is that ahead of all five bouts, his odds narrowly shortened between open and close by an average margin of 0.13.

This immediately suggests that you can access better value by placing bets on Volkanovski sooner rather than later, as well as suggesting that Ortega’s odds may be inclined to lengthen during the build-up to September 25.

Conversely, Ortega has been priced narrowly longer than his rolling five-bout closing odds of 2.244. His odds imply that he possesses an average chance of beating Volkanovski in comparison to Volkanovski’s recent opponents, having been priced longer than Holloway in their first bout (1.50), Jose Aldo (1.60), and Chad Mendes (1.67), but shorter than both Darren Elkins (2.77) and Holloway in their second meeting (2.90).

Ortega’s price tends to more commonly shorten between open and close, and among his last five bouts, he actually moved from underdog to favourite ahead of his fights against both Holloway and Cub Swanson. However, Ortega also opened as the underdog for his bouts against Frankie Edgar and Renato Moicano and his odds had lengthened by close on both occasions.

Volkanovski vs. Ortega: Fighting styles analysed

Since making his UFC debut in November 2016, Volkanovski has developed a reputation for being particularly skilled at crafting out victories over the distance. Indeed, four of his last five wins were settled by decision and he is yet to be involved in a UFC bout featuring a submission.

Ortega possesses a formidable ability to take hits.

The 32-year-old primarily aims to achieve victory simply by outhitting his opponent. He lands 6.02 significant strikes per minute while absorbing just 3.31, and he can also lean on decent defensive attributes including a significant strike defence rate of 60% and takedown defence rate of 72%. Volkanovski has landed more hits than his opponent in each of his last five bouts, doing so by a margin of at least 20 against all of them apart from Darren Elkins.

The belt holder’s preference is to keep proceedings upright and he launches 70% of his attacks from a standing position while aiming 57% at his opponent’s head. However, he isn’t averse to taking the fight to the floor and he does average 2.09 takedowns per 15 minutes, although the fact that this entails just 0.33 submissions in the same timeframe indicates that he utilises such moments to continue striking his opponent as opposed to engineering submission opportunities.

Ortega is arguably the more versatile fighter of the pair and his last five wins have witnessed two knockouts, two submissions, and a decision victory. He unreservedly leans on his durability and stamina to navigate fights, which explains why he has turned in consistently positive results despite absorbing more strikes (6.28) than he lands (4.29) per minute and having posted a considerably weaker striking accuracy rate than his opponent (38% to 55%).

Ortega also targets the majority of strikes at his opponent’s head (71%), although he also doesn’t shy away from keeping his options open. Indeed, despite launching a greater proportion of his attacks from a standing position than Volkanovski (89%), he bests his opponent for both submissions per 15 minutes (1.06) and knockdown ratio (0.66 to 0.44).

With this in mind, perhaps Ortega’s most intimidating attribute is his ability to catch his opponents off guard. He has consistently exhibited a capability to control fights despite being outstruck, while the fact that the only defeat of his MMA career came courtesy of a doctor stoppage suggests that there isn’t an immediately reliable route to victory against him.

Volkanovski vs. Ortega: Where is the value?

The onus is on Ortega entering this fight to establish a method of disrupting Volkanovski’s usual approach. While his proven ability to take hits indicates that he should be able to withstand the likely onslaught without being knocked out, without reasonable attacks in response he will almost definitely find himself on the receiving end of a decision defeat.

Ortega’s versatility should lend itself to such a challenge, although Volkanovski’s sole MMA loss to date reasonably portrays its difficulty. Given his penchant for attacking his opponent’s head from an upright position, it wouldn’t be surprising if Ortega opted to try and knock out Volkanovski, although such a tactic would require one of the finest offensive performances of his career.

If you are confident Volkanovski will win, over 4.5 rounds at 1.775* seems the obvious value bet. There is little to suggest that he will deviate from his usual approach, particularly as he should be aware that Ortega’s willingness to take hits could entail a straightforward points victory. Conversely, it is unlikely that any scenario that produces an Ortega win will witness the fight last the distance, meaning you may want to look into backing him with under 4.5 rounds at 2.100*.

Looking forward to UFC 266? Get the latest UFC odds for every bout with Pinnacle.

Odds subject to change

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