MAFB: UFC 266 Review
Aside from Rozenstruik freezing in time, UFC 266 was a delight to watch. There may not have been many ‘dog upsets, but the undercard had a few entertaining bouts – including Matthew Semelsberger’s 15-second knockout.
The focus will centre on Diaz vs Lawler 2 and Daukaus vs Adburakhimov, rather than the main event, as Volkanovski’s stellar performance needs a full essay to break down his masterful title defence. Just a quick shoutout for the banger between Merab Dvalishvili and Marlon Moraes – the Brazilian proved he isn’t as washed as first expected, while the Georgian gritted out a huge statement turnaround victory.
Catch up on the preview and predictions for UFC 266: Predictions if you haven’t already, and have a good old laugh at our expense.
More interested in number crunching? Find out how each fighter ranked on the Pintsized Interest scale this weekend on MAFB Math: UFC266.
Nick Diaz vs Robbie Lawler 2
Lawler def. Diaz // TKO (retirement) Round 3 0:44
As soon as Diaz jumped into a spinning back kick at the opening bell, the two veterans decided to engage in a pure stand-up clinic. Perhaps buoyed by the fact his opponent isn’t at the top of his game, Lawler was able to sit on the front foot and prevent Diaz an inch of breathing room. Keeping the Stockton man on the back-foot, Diaz maintained an impressive volume given his age/fitness, but his trademark liver hooks left no mark on the former champ.
Diaz’s excellent hand-fighting was on show for the first two rounds and left Robbie. Without the firepower to earn Lawler’s respect, nor the slicker(-ish) movement of youth, Diaz still ate too much early. Robbie regularly landed ugly clubbing shots on the inside, but more important were his kicks. Nick was visibly uncomfortable enduring the sporadic leg or body kick that Lawler threw. The finishing body shot crumpled Diaz, but he could have continued if he wished. A burning desire to fight is required to stay relevant at the upper echelons of the sport, and as seen on Saturday night, it isn’t with Nick anymore.
Nick Diaz Analysis and Future
There are two ways to approach this. Firstly, Nick is completely finished. The entire build-up to fight week saw Nick appear nonchalant and numb to his return to the UFC. Of course, the only remedy would be to hang up the gloves permanently. If, however, the loss sparked something within the fan favourite – there is one clear payday. Moving back to Welterweight, obviously, Diaz could face Mike Jackson (Mickey Gall and CM Punk destroyer). Jackson is widely disliked by fans and promotion, while the American would no doubt jump at the clout.
Robbie Lawler Analysis and Future
In victory, Lawler’s stock is unchanged. While Lawler found himself able to finally fight unchecked off the front-foot, Diaz offered little to no threat of knockout power. Breaking a four-fight streak and burying a career hatchet is a lovely way to end his career, but something tells me Lawler will fight again. If so, Jake Matthews is a solid name to get back on track towards the rankings. A more forgiving match-up would be the rematch with Donald Cerrone, another vet who finds himself in harder times.
Chris Daukaus vs Shamil Abdurakhimov
Daukaus def. Abdurakhimov // TKO (punches) Round 2 1:23
Chris Daukaus seems to have emerged into the Heavyweight top-ten in rapid time. The division may be the most shallow across the organisation, yet the speed of the former cop’s promotional rise is impressive. Questions remain over Daukaus’ durability or his Plan B when unable to execute his short front-foot bursts, but for now, Daukaus’ volume and hand speed appear unbeatable.
Abdurakhimov may have been out of the game for a while, but he didn’t appear too far off the pace. Easing himself into the fight, the UFC vet patiently watched Daukaus and prodded with jabs and leg kicks. Shifting lateral movement somewhat exposed Daukaus’ tendency to follow opponents rather than cut off the cage. Moreover, Abdurakhimov found a home for a couple of check hooks after Daukaus lingered in the pocket. A long whipped left hook, stretching just out of Abdurakhimov’s eye-sight, was the victory shot. Brutal ground and pound and a hard straight in the next round finished the job, but it was the long hook that spun the vet’s head.
Chris Daukaus Analysis and Future
Many questions remain over Daukaus’ durability and ground game, but his rise has been unstoppable. Unfortunately for the prospect, jumping straight to the top of the division leaves him unable to test himself. Every fight now has to have meaning in regards to the rankings. If Daukaus is willing to take on a wrestling threat, Sergey Spivak finds himself shellshocked after an Aspinall clinic in the clinch. Likewise, a pure striking affair could take place against Jairzinho Rozenstruik, who is in desperate need of an entertaining fight.
Shamil Abdurakhimov Analysis and Future
Not the glamorous return that Abdurakhimov was expecting. Complacent on the outside for just a moment, the veteran was forced to pay the ultimate price. Despite the knockout loss, Abdurakhimov didn’t look over the hill, and could still earn gatekeeper paydays. If Alexander Gustafsson wants to return, both men could earn a solid scalp. If Abdurakhimov wants to eat the youth, Tanner Boser and Juan Espino are both flawed but exciting prospects.
Jalin Turner. Not many gave the young man much hope against the scary striking prowess of Uros Medic, but Turner made the Serb look amateur.
Dan Hooker. Ugh, it feels awful to call Hooker a veteran, but he is thirty-one in a young man’s division.
Surprise of the Night
Dvalishvili def. Moraes (TKO Round 2 4:25). In what was sold as a Dvalishvili wrestling clinic, Moraes almost proved the party pooper with a thundering knockdown in the first round.
Fight of the Night
Volkanovski def. Ortega (UD). Despite the wide scorecards, this was a main event for the ages. Granite chins, perfect game planning and freak submission attempts – a true rollercoaster.
Finish of the Night
Daukaus def. Abdurakhimov (TKO Round 2 1:23). For someone built like Peter Kay, Daukaus hits hard and fast for a Heavyweight.
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