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UFC 266 expert picks: Will Ortega solve Volkanovski? What will Diaz-Lawler 2 look like?

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How Volkanovski used leg kicks to win gold (3:01)

In this excerpt of Unlocking Victory on ESPN+, Dominick Cruz and Gilbert Melendez show how Alex Volkanovski used leg kicks to beat Max Holloway to win the featherweight title. (3:01)

UFC 266 features a number of must-see matchups. Brian Ortega will face Alexander Volkanovski in a bout that was supposed to happen in March, but was delayed after Volkavnoski tested positive for COVID-19. Six months (and a full season of The Ultimate Fighter) later, Volkanovski (22-1) and Ortega (15-1) will square off at UFC 266 in Las Vegas.

It's a fascinating matchup in that Volkanovski has asserted himself as nothing short of world class, following two close decision victories over Max Holloway. And Ortega is a bit of a mystery, as he has fought only once in the past two years but has changed his entire camp during that time.

Before the two of them step into the Octagon, we'll also get to see a rematch nearly two decades in the making. When Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler met for the first time at UFC 47 -- and Diaz scored a thrilling one-punch knockout -- many would have guessed they'd end up fighting again. No one would have guessed, however, it would take this long to happen. And yet, here we are. Diaz (26-9) and Lawler (28-15) will meet on Saturday, 17 years after their first encounter in April 2004.

Diaz, of Stockton, California, has not fought in more than six years, primarily due to a suspension he received after testing positive for traces of marijuana in 2015. Lawler, who fights out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is looking to snap a four-fight skid that dates back to 2017.

Who has the edge in the 145-pound title fight and Lawler-Diaz? ESPN asked several experts for their breakdowns and predictions.

Editor's note: Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.


Din Thomas, veteran coach and UFC analyst