UFC 266 pre-event facts: Inside the numbers on Nick Diaz’s return

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The UFC returns to pay-per-view on Saturday with UFC 266 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card lineup follows prelims on ESPNNews and ESPN+.

A pair of championship fights headline the card. Alexander Volkanovski (22-1 MMA, 9-0 UFC) will attempt to make his third featherweight title defense against Brian Ortega (15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) in the main event, while Valentina Shevchenko (21-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) puts her women’s flyweight strap on the line for the sixth time against streaking challenger Lauren Murphy (15-4 MMA, 7-4 UFC).

In addition, the card will feature the long-awaited, highly anticipated return of Nick Diaz (26-9 MMA, 7-6 UFC), as he’s set to run it back with Robbie Lawler (28-15 MMA, 13-9 UFC) in a rematch of a 2004 fight Diaz won by knockout.

For more on the numbers behind the loaded lineup, check below for 80 pre-event facts about UFC 266.

Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega

Alexander Volkanovski

Volkanovski is the only Australian-born champion in UFC history. Volkanovski's six-fight UFC winning streak at featherweight is tied with Giga Chikadze for the second-longest active streak in the division behind Arnold Allen (eight). Volkanovski enters the event on a 19-fight winning streak. He hasn't suffered a defeat since May 2013. Volkanovski's 19-fight winning streak in MMA competition is the longest among active UFC fighters. Volkanovski's average fight time of 16:19 in UFC featherweight competition is the second-longest in divisional history behind Artem Lobov (16;40). Volkanovski lands 55 percent of his significant strike attempts in UFC featherweight competition, the second-best accuracy rate in divisional history behind Jimmy Hettes (57.3 percent). Volkanovski lands 6.16 significant strikes per minute in UFC featherweight competition, the third-best output rate in divisional history behind Shane Burgos (7.29) and Max Holloway (7.18).

Brian Ortega

Ortega has earned nine of his 14 career victories by stoppage. That includes all six of his UFC wins. Ortega's six stoppage victories in UFC featherweight competition are tied for third-most in divisional history behind Holloway (10) and Ricardo Lamas (seven). Ortega is the only fighter in UFC history to earn four consecutive third-round stoppage victories. Ortega's three submission victories in UFC featherweight competition are tied for third-most in divisional history behind Charles Oliveira (six) and Chas Skelly (four). Ortega and Holloway combined for 400 significant strikes landed at UFC 231, the single-fight UFC record.

Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy

Valentina Shevchenko

Shevchenko is one of two women’s flyweight champions in UFC history. Nicco Montano also accomplished the feat. Shevchenko's five consecutive UFC women's flyweight title defenses are most in divisional history. Shevchenko's five consecutive UFC title defenses are tied with Amanda Nunes' five at bantamweight for most among current promotional champions. Shevchenko is one of seven fighters in history to end a UFC title fight with a knockout stemming from a head kick. She accomplished the feat at UFC 238. Shevchenko is 7-0 since she dropped to the UFC women's flyweight division in February 2018. Shevchenko's seven-fight UFC winning streak at women's flyweight is the longest active streak in the division. Shevchenko's seven victories in UFC women's flyweight competition are tied with Katlyn Chookagian for most in divisional history. Shevchenko's four stoppage victories in UFC women's flyweight competition are tied for second-most in divisional history behind Gillian Robertson (five). Shevchenko's three knockout victories in UFC women's flyweight competition are most in divisional history. Shevchenko lands 56.4 percent of her significant strike attempts in UFC women's flyweight competition, the best accuracy rate in divisional history. Shevchenko is the only fighter in UFC history to earn multiple knockouts stemming from the crucifix position. She accomplished the feat at UFC 247 and UFC 261. Shevchenko has completed at least one takedown in 11 of her 12 UFC appearances. Shevchenko's 25 takedowns landed in UFC women's flyweight competition are most in divisional history.

Lauren Murphy

Murphy is 6-1 since she dropped to the UFC flyweight division in December 2017. Murphy’s five-fight UFC winning streak at women's flyweight is the second-longest active streak in the division behind Shevchenko (seven). Murphy's six victories in UFC women's flyweight history are tied for third-most in divisional history behind Shevchenko (seven) and Chookagian (seven). Murphy has earned four of her six UFC flyweight victories by decision. Murphy is one of six female fighters in UFC history to earn a knockout stemming from a knee strike. She accomplished the feat at UFC on ESPN 5.

Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler

Nick Diaz

Diaz (26-9 MMA, 7-6 UFC) returns to competition for the first time since Jan. 31, 2015. The 2,429-day layoff is the longest of his more than 20-year career. Diaz's three-fight winless skid is tied for the longest of his career. He also went on a three-fight losing skid from 2005-2006.

Robbie Lawler

Lawler's (28-15 MMA, 13-9 UFC) four-fight losing skid is the longest of his career. He hasn't earned a victory since July 2017. Lawler is 9-6 since he returned to the UFC for a second stint in February 2013. Lawler became the first fighter in UFC history to force a belt to change hands by split decision when he defeated Johny Hendricks at UFC 181 in December 2014. Lawler is one of two fighters in UFC history to win two title fights by split decision. Benson Henderson also accomplished the feat. Lawler's significant strike disadvantage of -84 against Carlos Condit at UFC 195 marked the largest disparity in UFC title-fight history for a fighter who won a bout. Lawler completes 77.9 percent of his takedown attempts in UFC competition, the third-highest accuracy rate in company history behind Nordine Taleb (76.2 percent) and Montel Jackson (75.9 percent).

Curtis Blaydes vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Curtis Blaydes

[autotag]Curtis Blaydes[/autotag]' (14-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) 59 takedowns landed in UFC heavyweight competition are most in divisional history. Blaydes' 14 takedowns landed against Alexander Volkov at UFC on ESPN 11 is the single-fight record for a UFC heavyweight bout. Blaydes' 14 takedowns landed are tied for the third-most in a single UFC fight behind Khabib Nurmagomedov (21 at UFC 160) and Sean Sherk (16 at UFC 73). Blaydes has achieved 59:44 of top control time in UFC heavyweight competition, the most in divisional history. Blaydes' three knockout victories stemming from elbow strikes in UFC competition are tied with Paul Felder for most in company history.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik

[autotag]Jairzinho Rozenstruik[/autotag] (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) has earned 11 of his 12 career victories by stoppage. He's finished all of those wins by knockout. Rozenstruik's nine-second knockout at UFC on ESPN+ 12 is the second-fastest in UFC heavyweight history behind Todd Duffee’s seven-second finish at UFC 102. Rozenstruik's knockout of Alistair Overeem at the 4:56 mark of Round 5 at UFC on ESPN 7 marked the third latest stoppage in UFC history behind Demetrious Johnson’s win (4:59 of Round 5) at UFC 186 and Yair Rodriguez’s victory (4:59 of Round 5) at UFC Fight Night 139. Rozenstruik defends 80 percent of opponent takedown attempts in UFC heavyweight competition, the third-highest rate in divisional history behind Marcin Tybura (82.1 percent) and Junior Dos Santos (81.8 percent).

Jessica Andrade vs. Cynthia Calvillo

Jessica Andrade

[autotag]Jessica Andrade[/autotag] (21-9 MMA, 12-7 UFC) becomes the first female in UFC history to make 20 octagon appearances. Andrade is 1-1 since she moved up to the women’s flyweight division in October 2020. Andrade is one of 13 fighters in UFC history to earn victories in three weight classes. She’s the only female to accomplish the feat. Andrade's 12 UFC victories are the second-most by any female in company history behind Nunes (14). Andrade is one of 12 fighters in UFC history to earn a knockout stemming from a slam. She accomplished the feat at UFC 237. Andrade is one of four in history to win a UFC title fight by knockout stemming from a slam. She accomplished the feat at UFC 237. Andrade landed 242 total strikes against Claudia Gadelha at UFC Fight Night 117, the single-fight record for a UFC strawweight bout. Andrade’s 10 takedowns landed against Tecia Torres at UFC on FOX 29 is the single-fight record for a women’s UFC bout. Andrade's seven fight-night bonuses for UFC strawweight bouts are most in divisional history.

Cynthia Calvillo

[autotag]Cynthia Calvillo[/autotag] (9-2-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) is 1-1 since she moved up to the women's flyweight division in June 2020. Calvillo has completed at least one takedown against eight of her nine UFC opponents. Calvillo's three submission victories in UFC strawweight competition are tied for second-most in divisional history behind Mackenzie Dern (four).

Marlon Moraes vs. Merab Dvalishvili

Marlon Moraes

[autotag]Marlon Moraes[/autotag] (23-8-1 MMA, 5-4 UFC) is a former WSOF (now PFL) bantamweight champion. He defended his title a record six times. Moraes is one of four bantamweights in UFC history to earn multiple knockouts stemming from a knee/kick. Cory Sandhagen, T.J. Dillashaw, and Jonathan Martinez also accomplished the feat. [autotag]Merab Dvalishvili[/autotag]'s (13-4 MMA, 6-2 UFC) five-fight UFC winning streak at bantamweight is the second-longest active streak in the division behind Aljamain Sterling (six). Dvalishvili has earned 10 of his 13 career victories by decision. That includes all six of his UFC wins. Dvalishvili's 46 takedowns landed in UFC bantamweight competition are most in divisional history. Dvalishvili is one of two fighters in history to land 10 or more takedowns in three separate UFC bouts. Demetrious Johnson also accomplished the feat. Dvalishvili out-landed Terrion Ware by 183 total strikes at UFC Fight Night 136, the largest differential in a single UFC/WEC bantamweight bout.

Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast

Dan Hooker

[autotag]Dan Hooker[/autotag] (20-10 MMA, 10-6 UFC) is 7-3 since he moved up to the UFC lightweight division in June 2017. Hooker has earned 17 of his 20 career victories by stoppage. That includes eight of his 10 UFC wins. Hooker has earned UFC knockouts stemming from a punch, kick, knee, and elbows. Hooker and Dustin Poirier combined for 390 total strikes landed at UFC on ESPN 12, the single-fight record for a UFC lightweight bout. Hooker defends 90 percent of all opponent takedown attempts in UFC lightweight competition, tied for the third-best rate in divisional history behind Leonardo Santos (94.3 percent) and Gleison Tibau (92 percent). [autotag]Nasrat Haqparast[/autotag] (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has earned four of his five UFC victories by decision. Haqparast defends 74.5 percent of opponent significant strike attempts in UFC lightweight competition, the best rate in divisional history. Haqparast has a +2.58 significant strike differential in UFC lightweight competition, the biggest margin in divisional history.

Roxanne Modafferi vs. Taila Santos

Roxanne Modafferi

[autotag]Roxanne Modafferi[/autotag] (25-18 MMA, 4-6 UFC) competes in her 10th UFC women's flyweight bout, tied with Robertson and Chookagian for most appearances in divisional history. Modafferi's total fight time of 2:18:32 in UFC women's flyweight competition is the most in divisional history. Modafferi has alternated wins and losses over her past 10 fights. She lost her most recent bout at UFC 257 in January. [autotag]Taila Santos[/autotag] (17-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) has earned both of her UFC victories by decision.

Manon Fiorot vs. Mayra Bueno Silva

Manon Fiorot

[autotag]Manon Fiorot[/autotag] (7-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) has earned all six of her career stoppage victories by knockout. That includes both of her UFC wins. Fiorot's two knockout victories in UFC women's flyweight competition are tied for second-most in divisional history behind Shevchenko (three). UFC research analyst and live statistics producer Michael Carroll contributed to this story. Follow him on Twitter @MJCflipdascript.

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