UFC 266 – An In Depth Look At The Fighters

With an absolutely stacked UFC 266 ahead of us, the boys at the Run It Back Podcast wanted to highlight just the quality of contenders on the card.

Each of the boys was tasked with picking a main card fighter and diving deep into their histories within the sport of MMA to produce a list of the Top 5 Moments from the UFC 266 fighters.

Due to the storied legacies of the fighters on display, we’re sure we’ll disappoint more than one of you by missing out on your personal favourite moment, so be sure to send us word at either our Instagram [plug] or on any of the NEDs social media posts.

Let’s get into it.

Statman’s Pick – ‘Ruthless’ Robbie Lawler

  1. Robbie Lawler vs. Nick Diaz 1

What better time to highlight the first Lawler/Diaz fight than just before the second? 17 years (coincidentally, 209 months!) ago.

These two legends met for the first time, and while the first fight didn’t go Lawler’s way, it was a sensational 2-round war that stuck with fans for long afterwards.

  1. Lawler Claims UFC Gold

It wasn’t the clean cut, decisive victory we know and love from Robbie Lawler, but it was a true success story for the long-time veteran of the sport.

Often counted out, it was inspirational to see the soft-spoken deliverer of violence hold the championship belt high.

  1. Robbie Lawler vs. Adlan Amagov

Off the back of two straight losses, Lawler was thrown into the cage against the extremely dangerous 25-year-old Russian Adlan Amagov.

Lawler managed to overcome the deck stacked against him and got the finish in the first two minutes.

  1. Robbie Lawler’s UFC Return

After nearly 9 years away from the UFC, Lawler would return after Strikeforce was bought out.

Brought in to open the PPV portion of the first ever UFC card to feature Ronda Rousey and women’s MMA, Lawler capitalised on his position in a historic event, finishing career heel Josh Koscheck and earning Knock Out of the Night.

  1. Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald 2

The main card of UFC 189 will go down as one of the greatest in MMA history, and Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald fought four and a half rounds to claim Fight of the Night on a card filled with stand outs.

The brawls, the violence, the damage and the stare downs combine to make this fight one for the ages and one of the best fights of all time.

 

Stoney’s Pick – Nick Diaz

  1. Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley

Perhaps the greatest one-round title fights in MMA history, Diaz vs. Daley took place in 2011 and was Diaz’s last under the Strikeforce banner.

Huge swings in momentum and dramatic near finishes helped catapult this wild brawl into many Fight of the Year lists, despite only lasting 4:57

  1. Nick Diaz and GSP

This entry pertains to the build-up, hype, and legacy of the feud itself, rather than the fight.

The fight – while a solid entry into GSP’s records – paled in comparison to the animosity that brewed between the two men in the lead into the fight.

No two other fighters could be more different than the brash, honest, and abrasive Diaz and the polite, positive company man St. Pierre.

  1. Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn

Before we finally saw Diaz locked in the cage with St. Pierre, we had numerous bizarre turn of events occur that ended up with Diaz making his long-awaited return to the Octagon against the legend BJ Penn at UFC 137.

Nearly 10 years ago, Diaz made his return and notched his first UFC victory in 5 years – and his last since that date.

  1. Nick Diaz vs. Takanori Gomi

Long considered to be the greatest Lightweight at the time, Takanori Gomi entered his bout with Diaz with a record of 27-3 (13-1 in Pride, with 10 finishes).

Before the end of the second round, Diaz had finished the fight with one of the greatest submissions ever seen – the Gogoplata, a submission that has only ever credibly been pulled off five times in MMA.

An all-too-familiar fate befell the fight, however, with the win being  overturned due to a recreational drug test failure.

420 points to whoever can guess the drug!

  1. Cesar Gracie BJJ vs. Mayhem Miller

The number one moment for Nick Diaz occurred during an event that Diaz wasn’t even competing on!

After Jake Shields defeated Dan Henderson to retain his Middleweight title at Strikeforce: Nashville on CBS, Jason Miller gained access to the cage and asked for his rematch.

Shields and fellow teammate Gilbert Melendez – angry over ruining their celebrations – pushed Miller away.

Diaz, however, launched the first strike and the brawl escalated. MMA didn’t return to network television until the UFC’s FOX deal.

Producer DL’s Pick – Valentina Shevchenko

  1. Valentina Shevchenko vs. Juliana Pena

Honestly, Shevchenko’s list is what basically amounts to a kill list of some of the best in women’s MMA.

Here we had Shevchenko at her previous home of Bantamweight competing against Ultimate Fighter winner Juliana Pena.

Shevchenko dominated the fight, finishing it late in the second with a submission.

  1. Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade

Shevchenko has hardly ever looked like more of a complete fighter than in her blow out of highly skilled opponent Andrade.

Everyone knows about her mastery over striking, many know about the ground skills, but few times had we ever had a clearer display of the physical strength and wrestling of Shevchenko.

The Fight IQ displayed in this fight, as well as the active and engaging groundwork on route to the 2nd Round TKO make this a Top 5 moment for sure.

  1. Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Eye

A common theme so far with these moments: dominant, destructive victory by way of a 2nd round finish.

Capping off this theme, the head kick finish of Jessica Eye is one that needs to be heard to be believed.

Only the sound of a tree being felled in the woods or a home run hit can come close to the sound of Shevchenko’s shin slamming into Eye’s head.

  1. Valentina Shevchenko vs. Amanda Nunes II

A rare example on this list of a losing effort, but many considered this fight to be Nunes’ toughest fight ever, opening the door to a future trilogy date.

Shevchenko pressured Nunes unlike any other when the two met at UFC 215, and was competitive throughout with smart game planning, despite being noticeably smaller.

MMADecisions.com had the fight split down the middle too, with 10 media outlets scoring the fight for Nunes, 10 for Shevchenko and 2 scoring it a draw.

  1. Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

The fight that would be Shevchenko’s title winning effort, against one of the all-time greats in the former Strawweight Queen Jedrzejczyk.

Despite the fight being between two all-time great strikers, the fight was hardly close, with Shevchenko claiming the title she still holds today with a shutout Unanimous Decision victory.

Snags’ Pick – Alexander Volkanovski

  1. Alexander Volkanovski vs. Chad Mendes

Despite being 4-0 in the UFC with a sequence of decisive victories, Volkanovski still had questions above his head about how far he could go in the stacked Featherweight division.

His 2 Round destruction of multiple time title challenger Chad Mendes answered a lot of questions and silenced many doubters, moving Volkanovski up the chain.

  1. Alexander Volkanovski vs. Jose Aldo

His very next fight was against a resurgent Jose Aldo.

Aldo’s only defeats in the past 14 years had come against divisional GOATs Max Holloway and Conor McGregor, whereas Volkanovski was still an unproven prospect desperate to make his mark.

And what a mark he made, taking a clear cut 30-27 decision from the King of Rio, and advancing Volkanovski’s name into title contention.

  1. Cardio Machine

As this list was devised by Snags – lover of all things cardio, extreme and gym based -, it should come as no surprise that an insane cardio regime makes it onto the list.

20 minutes of hell, with fresh opponents rotating in every five seconds, Alexander Volkanovski was tasked with completing a double leg takedown.

Every five seconds.

For 20 minutes.

240 straight double leg takedowns, and the man could still stand at the end of it…brutal!

  1. Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway I and II

Capturing and defending the UFC title is something all UFC fighters dream of and so few achieve.

Doing so against a divisional GOAT in what is one of the most talent stacked divisions in the UFC is another thing.

Volkanovski shocked the world, beating Holloway cleanly to capture the title and, while the second bout was considerably closer, he backed up the effort a second time.

With a resurgent Holloway setting striking records every round, a third fight could soon, hopefully, be on the cards.

  1. The Goosey Side-step

This one is a bit of a sentimental one for the Run It Back boys.

On our way to our first UFC PPV as a unit (and ahead of recording our first podcast as a group), Snags was keen to do a Goosey side-step across Melbourne after seeing Alex ‘The Great’ knock out a few prime examples from his rugby days.

Cut to the day of UFC 243, and all the guys were Goosey’ing to their seats, to the loo, to the concession stands and to the pubs after the event.

There you have it – the (not-so) definitive list of greatest moments from the greatest competitors on the ultra-stacked UFC 266 card.

Remember to chuck some of your favourite memories of the fighters in the comments, a do a Goosey down to your local before the event to make sure you’re well supplied to enjoy the fights!