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 in Scotiabank Arena.
As of early Friday night, many books had Ortega (14-0-1 MMA, 6-0-1 UFC) recorded as a -125 favored with a total of 3.5 rounds (‘beneath’ -125,’over’ -105). Holloway had been the short’chalk’ for several months before Thursday when the 27-year-old Ortega took over the favorite function.
Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) has won 12 consecutive battles since losing a unanimous decision against Conor’The Notorious’ McGregor at UFC Boston on August 17 of 2013. In this incredible run, the 27-year-old Hawaiian has finished nine of 12 foes and accumulated five fight-night bonuses.
Holloway entered the title picture in 2015 by submitting Cub Swanson, beating Charles Oliveira and earning decision successes over Cole Miller and Jeremy Stephens. Then in 2016 Holloway knocked off Ricardo Lamas by choice, enticing’The Bully’ into a swing-for-the-fences competition in the last 10 minutes of the scrap (it was savage!) .
The success over Lamas garnered Holloway a shot at the interim 145-pound strap against former lightweight champion Anthony’Showtime’ Pettis. Holloway won the belt by taking out Pettis using a third-round knockout at UFC 206 at Toronto.
Next,’Blessed’ took on the legendary Jose Aldo Jr. to combine the featherweight belts. Holloway went to Aldo’s hometown of Rio and beat him by way of third-round KO in UFC 212. Then from the rematch at Detroit in UFC 218, Holloway once again won with a third-round KO of Aldo on Dec. 2 of 2017.
Advertisement Coming into 2018, Holloway had the look of one the advertising’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 injured doing media a week before facing Khabib Nurmagomedov for Ferguson’s interim lightweight buckle, Holloway accepted an offer to confront Nurmagomedov on just six days of notice.
The battle April 7 did not occur, though, since the New York Athletic Commission compelled Holloway to stop cutting weight — from health/safety concerns — on Friday morning. He had been also scheduled to defend his featherweight title against Ortega in UFC 226 on July 7, but he had been pulled in the fight due to»concussion-like symptoms»
Holloway was put on the shelf while doctors ran different tests. The medical people never really figured out what the issue was to get its featherweight kingpin, but they nonetheless cleared him to return to fighting. There was a whole lot of chatter about how Holloway’s weight reduction 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 cut and was among the first fighters to make his or her number. He is less than 24 hours away from his shot at satisfying a lifelong fantasy.
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