The Octagon returns to Toronto on Saturday night with Max’Blessed’ Holloway defending his featherweight belt against undefeated Brian’T-City Ortega at the UFC 231 headliner at Scotiabank Arena.
As of early Friday night, many books had Ortega (14-0-1 MMA, 6-0-1 UFC) recorded as a -125 favorite with a total of 3.5 rounds (‘under’ -125,’over’ -105). Holloway had been the brief’chalk’ for many months until Thursday if the 27-year-old Ortega took over the favourite function.
Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) has won 12 consecutive battles since losing a unanimous decision against Conor’The Notorious’ McGregor in UFC Boston on August 17 of 2013. During this incredible run, the 27-year-old Hawaiian has finished nine of 12 foes and collected five fight-night bonuses.
Holloway entered the name image in 2015 by submitting Cub Swanson, beating Charles Oliveira and making decision victories over Cole Miller and Jeremy Stephens. Subsequently in 2016 Holloway knocked off Ricardo Lamas by choice, enticing’The Bully’ to a swing-for-the-fences contest in the final 10 seconds of the scrap (it was savage!) .
The victory over Lamas garnered Holloway a shot in the interim 145-pound strap against former lightweight champion Anthony’Showtime’ Pettis. Holloway won the belt by simply taking out Pettis using a third-round knockout at UFC 206 at Toronto.
Next,’Blessed’ took on the mythical Jose Aldo Jr. to unify the featherweight belts. Holloway went to Aldo’s hometown of Rio and defeat him through third-round KO at UFC 212. Then from the rematch at Detroit in UFC 218, Holloway once again won using a third-round KO of Aldo on Dec. 2 of 2017.
Advertisement Coming into 2018, Holloway had the appearance of one the promotion’s most dominant champions. But he needed to withdraw from his scheduled March 3 title defense against former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar because of an injury. When Tony Ferguson was hurt doing press a week before confronting Khabib Nurmagomedov for Ferguson’s interim lightweight belt, Holloway accepted an offer to face Nurmagomedov on just six days of notice.
The fight on April 7 didn’t happen, though, since the New York Athletic Commission compelled Holloway to stop cutting weight — out of health/safety worries — on Friday morning. He was scheduled to defend his featherweight title against Ortega at UFC 226 on July 7, however, he had been pulled in the fight because of”concussion-like symptoms”
Holloway was put on the shelf while doctors ran different tests. The health care people never really figured out what the issue was for the featherweight kingpin, but they cleared him to return to fighting. There was a good deal of chatter concerning how Holloway’s weight cut would go, but he stepped on the scale this morning and hit his mark with a half-pound to spare at 144.5 lbs.
Ortega also had an easy weight reduction and was one of the fighters to make his or her number. He is less than 24 hours off from his shot at satisfying a lifelong fantasy.
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