Alexander Volkanovski points to Brian Ortega’s durability, ‘granite chin’ as keys to UFC 303 win over Diego Lopes

Alexander Volkanovski thinks Brian Ortega’s experience will help him prevail at UFC 303.

Ortega (16-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) takes on Diego Lopes (24-6 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in Saturday’s co-main event (pay-per-view, ESPN, ESPN+) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Lopes is coming off back-to-back first-round knockouts of Pat Sabatini and Sodiq Yusuff. Volkanovski expects Lopes to land on Ortega but isn’t sure if he’ll be able to put him away. The former featherweight champion also thinks Ortega’s striking is underrated.

“His (Lopes) striking is next level, but Ortega’s chin, you might wear him down, he might get hurt, I don’t know about shutting his lights off,” Volkanovski said on his YouTube channel. “I can’t see that happening. … Going from experience and what I’ve seen, he’s got a granite chin.

“I think that might cancel out the big KO punch from Lopes to get Ortega. It’s going to be interesting on the feet. Ortega’s got some pretty good skill on the feet. I think he’s going to want to do more work on the feet. I think he’s going to be working on the striking, and when he chooses to work on his striking, he’s actually got great striking.”

Volkanovski was pushed to the brink by Ortega in their title fight at UFC 266 in 2021. Ortega dropped Volkanovski and caught him in a deep guillotine choke, but Volk managed to battle out of it. He went on to batter Ortega for the unanimous decision win.

Volkanovski sees Ortega vs. Lopes as a guaranteed banger and hopes the fight hits the ground. Ultimately, he’s picking Ortega to get the upset win over the surging Lopes.

“Who am I picking? Lopes is favorite,” Volkanovski said. “Lopes is good, man. This is going to be the first time I might be going against Lopes. Ortega’s durability. It is a three-rounder. Does he do enough damage in the first two rounds to get a decision? Three rounds, man, am I going to go with Lopes? I think on the feet he’s going to land more because he’s going to come aggressive.

“I don’t think he’s going to drop him or knock him out. Could, but like I said, Ortega’s chin is legit. Man, this is a tricky one for me. I can’t pull the trigger on this. This one might ruin the parlays, guys. I’m going to go with the underdog here. I got a lot of respect for Lopes, and I know he’s going to bring it, and I know this is a short-notice fight, three rounds. Stylistically in this situation might favor him a little bit more, but I’m going to go Ortega.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 303.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie