'He is not human': UFC world erupts over 'insane' Aussie miracle

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·Sports Editor
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Alexander Volkanovski, pictured here after escaping a number of submissions from Brian Ortega.
Alexander Volkanovski escaped a number of submissions from Brian Ortega. Image: Getty

Alexander Volkanovski has sent the UFC world into pandemonium with an unreal display to defend his featherweight title against Brian Ortega.

The Aussie superstar put on an extraordinary performance to stave off fierce rival Ortega at UFC 266 in Las Vegas on Saturday.

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It looked as though Ortega was destined to cause a huge boilover when he twice had Volkanovski in submission holds in the third round.

However the Aussie managed to wiggle out of a guillotine and triangle choke to keep the fight alive.

Volkanovski then went to work breaking Ortega's spirit as he pounded the American fighter with brutal blows until the final bell.

"They'll be talking about this fight for years to come," said Jon Anik in commentary.

Volkanovski had been battering Ortega for two-plus rounds, but Ortega landed a left hand that dropped Volkanovski and brought the sell-out crowd to its feet.

Ortega, one of the best submission artists in the game, caught Volkanovski in a mounted guillotine. He was squeezing for all he was worth and the grimace on the champion’s face told the story.

“I thought he was done,” Ortega said in the cage afterward.

He was not. Volkanovski survived the guillotine and a triangle choke moments later to win his grudge match with Ortega and retain the featherweight title with a unanimous decision. 

Alexander Volkanovski, pictured here punching Brian Ortega in their UFC featherweight championship fight at UFC 266.
Alexander Volkanovski punches Brian Ortega in their UFC featherweight championship fight at UFC 266. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Judges scored it 49-46, 50-45 and 50-44 for Volkanovski.

It was one of the best fights of the year and one of the best title fights in the division’s history. The third round will rank among the greatest rounds ever in the UFC.

Afterward, Volkanovski shrugged it off with his typical humility.

“I”m a normal human being, but [my success is] just preparation and hard work,” Volkanovski said. “Anyone can do what I have done.”

UFC fans and commentators flocked to social media in awe of the insane fight, especially Volkanovski's ability to survive Ortega's submissions.

It was Ortega’s second loss in featherweight title fights, while Volkanovski has now won 20 bouts in a row. 

He has been looking for recognition from the masses that should now come.

“It’s about [expletive] time,” he said.

Nick Diaz loses in long-awaited return to UFC

Earlier, Nick Diaz lost his first mixed martial arts fight in nearly seven years, declining to go on after Robbie Lawler knocked him down with punches early in the third round.

Diaz (26-10), a wildly popular 38-year-old fighter who walked away from the sport in early 2015, traded a high volume of strikes with Lawler for two exciting rounds during his return at T-Mobile Arena.

Diaz then crumpled awkwardly to his knees after Lawler caught him with a check right hook early in the third - indicating he wouldn't or couldn't go on 44 seconds into the third round.

Afterward, Diaz disclosed he might have injured his knee, but made no excuses or apologies for his performance in his return.

"I'm glad at least I put on a show," Diaz said. 

"I knew I had it coming. There was a lot of stress coming into this one. ... I don't have any excuses. It was a long time off."

The 39-year-old Lawler ended his own four-fight losing streak by winning the rematch of these MMA pioneers' famed 2004 meeting at UFC 47.

Dominant flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko then totally shut down Lauren Murphy to controll their fight, before stopping the American at four minutes of the fourth round to retain her title.

with Kevin Iole and AAP

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