UFC 231: Max Holloway vs Brian Ortega preview

Max Holloway puts his featherweight title on the line in Toronto this weekend against unbeaten challenger Brian Ortega. 

All the promotional blurb surrounding this fight has deemed this fight as “the most anticipated featherweight fight in history”.

While it’s certainly anticipated, it’s probably a bit of a stretch to place it higher than the Conor McGregor vs Jose Aldo showdown. With that being said, there are similarities in how we have finally gotten to this fight.

HEALTH SCARE

Champion Max Holloway (19-3) was originally scheduled to fight Brian Ortega (14-0) earlier this year. However a a health scare to Holloway forced him out of the proposed July showdown.

All of the medical reports since then have been positive and the Hawaiian is now medically cleared to fight this Saturday in Toronto, Canada.

THE STYLES

Holloway is currently riding a 13 fight win streak and in his last three bouts he has really showcased his striking prowess and has knocked off two former champions in his last three fights by TKO/KO with Anthony Pettis and Jose Aldo (x2) laying waste to the champion.

On the other side, Brian Ortega has never tasted defeat in his professional career and has finished six of his last opponents including Cub Swanson and former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.

Ortega is as well rounded as they come and has the punching power to compete with Holloway on the feet but it’s his unorthodox submission game that has been the most difficult thing to solve especially against strikers where he has been able to secure standing guillotines from all angles in the past.

THE FIGHT

This is genuinely one of the more tricky fights to call. Looking at both men’s records, you would think that on paper that it’s going to be a classic ‘striker vs grappler’ contest but due to “T-City’s” ability to catch fighters in a submission whilst standing adds an extra layer of complexity to the fight.

Holloway will enjoy a slight reach advantage over Ortega and has long limbs to be able to stay on the outside and potentially pepper away at Ortega and make him keep his distance in the early goings.

“Blessed” has arguably got the advantage in the striking and if Ortega does want to attempt to close the distance early on, Holloway may give him something to think about if he is able to land any clean punches initially.

Holloway has fought some of the best in the division but his most admirable trait could also be his downfall in this fight – calling his opponent to stand and trade with him in the middle of the Octagon.

As has already been mentioned, Holloway has the better striking but if he allows his heart to dictate over his head, he could very well find himself wrapped up by Ortega who has an unforgiving submission game and could cost him dearly.

It’s what makes it such an intriguing contest but perhaps the biggest factor is how well Holloway will do having overcome his recent health issues against such a high level opponent.

Do we see a more cautious approach from the champion or does he pick up where he left off a little over a year ago?

THE VERDICT

Ring rust is one thing and a year away, despite not seeming like a long time, can be difficult especially with medical issues on top of that.

There is no doubting Max’s heart and there is absolutely no doubt that on paper he will want to put on a show for his fans and his native Hawaii of which he speaks so proudly of.

However, Ortega is a nightmare match up for Holloway and unless the featherweight champion can land early, it could be a long night for him.

Prediction: Brian Ortega via submission (Round 2)

 

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