Watch This fight
Event: UFC 231
Date: December 8th, 2018
Time: 10:00PM (EST)
How to Watch: PPV
Matchup: Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega
Finally. Brian Ortega is fighting Max Holloway for the UFC Featherweight Championship. The bout was postponed earlier this year when Holloway exhibited concussion-like symptoms during media obligations just days before the event. Ortega caught a bit of heat for refusing to accept another opponent on such short notice, but "T-City" stuck to his guns as the rightful #1 contender in the division and decided instead to wait until Max recovered.
"Blessed" is healthy now, and the fight is on this Saturday from the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. Both guys finish fights. Max has won twelve-straight since losing to Conor McGregor in August 2013. Nine of those were finished by stoppage: 7 KO/TKO, 2 SUB (both by guillotine choke). Ortega is undefeated (14-0, 1 NC) and has finished his last six opponents inside the octagon: 3 KO/TKO, 3 SUB (2 guillotine, 1 triangle choke).
I'll never forget the end of Max's fight with Ricardo Lamas at UFC 199, when he pointed down to the center of the mat and encouraged Lamas to stand and bang with him for the last few seconds of the round. My last impression of Ortega is the uppercut that destroyed my hero Frankie Edgar back in March. T-City is one of the most dangerous BJJ practitioners in the game regardless of weight class, but Max is a black belt himself. I don't see Ortega shooting for a takedown out of reluctance to stand with Max, and I don't think Max feels any extra apprehension if he finds himself on his back. I think this fight stays on the feet much like the bout between Jacare and Chris Weidman a few weeks ago.
I would say Max has the more well-rounded skill set and Ortega is more of a grappler in comparison, but Ortega doesn't look for the takedown the way Demian Maia does, for example. I don't see the fight going to the ground unless someone gets clipped on the feet first.
I find it interesting both fighters have so many fights in the UFC despite being so young. We fans have been able to track each fighter's progression in the sport for that reason, like your favorite indie band that finally gets a song played on the radio.
I don't think this fight goes the full 25 minutes. I see Max coming out aggressive, controlling the center of the cage while they gauge timing and distance. He lands a few significant strikes and turns up the pressure, but T-City counters him in the exchange and drops him. Ortega gets on top and wins either by ground and pound or works for a head-and-arm choke, but Max goes out rather than taps, third or fourth round.