UFC 266 Post-Fight Matchmaker – Volkanovski, Shevchenko, Lawler

UFC 266 lived up to the hype with Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega putting on a fight for the ages, Valentina Shevchenko continuing her dominance and Robbie Lawler likely saving his job with his victory over Nick Diaz. We’ll play matchmaker for all these winners and look at who they should fight next.

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway/Yair Rodriguez winner

Volkanovski (23-1) once again proved why he’s the best featherweight on the planet with a unanimous decision victory over Brian Ortega on Saturday night. Despite two wins over former champion Max Holloway, many felt their rematch should have gone the other way on the judge’s scorecards. Fans want to see how the trilogy plays out, especially with the beating Holloway put on Calvin Kattar earlier this year. But don’t count out Yair Rodriguez either. The 28-year-old will face Holloway on November 13th, and an upset win could secure a title shot for the Mexican fighter.

 

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanne Calderwood/Alexa Grasso winner 

Shevchenko (22-3) became the first fighter to stop Lauren Murphy, when she finished the Texas native in the fourth round of their flyweight title fight. The 33-year-old is running out of opponents, but the most obvious choice would be the winner of the upcoming Joanne Calderwood vs. Alexa Grasso fight on Nov 20. Calderwood secured a title shot back in 2020, only to take a “stay busy” fight against Jennifer Maia where she ended up getting submitted in the first round. The 35-year-old remains the one notable opponent left in the division for Shevchenko to face, while Grasso provides a fresh matchup.

 

Robbie Lawler vs. Nate Diaz (or retirement) 

Lawler (29-15) was able to avenge an April 2004 loss to Nick Diaz by defeating the Stockton native by third-round TKO (retirement) at UFC 266. The 38-year-old looked closer to the fighter that defeated Rory MacDonald in 2015, then the welterweight that lost four straight fights prior to Saturday night. It’s rare for fighters to retire off a win, so I’d have no issues if Lawler wanted to call it a day at this stage in his career. Lawler already won a UFC championship in 2016 and will go down as one of the most entertaining fighters in MMA history. He has nothing left to prove. However, should the Sanford MMA product want to continue his career, I think a Nate Diaz fight makes a lot of sense. Not only would Nate get revenge for his brother, but it’s an opportunity for the 36-year-old to snap a two-fight skid. With Conor McGregor out due to injury and Jorge Masvidal seemingly linked to a fight with Leon Edwards, Lawler vs. Nate Diaz makes a lot of sense at this point.

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