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.
At early Friday night, many books had Ortega (14-0-1 MMA, 6-0-1 UFC) listed as a -125 favored with a total of 3.5 rounds (‘under’ -125,’over’ -105). Holloway was the brief’chalk’ for several months until Thursday when 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 at UFC Boston on August 17 of 2013. In this unbelievable run, the 27-year-old Hawaiian has completed nine of 12 foes and collected five fight-night bonuses.
Holloway entered the name picture in 2015 by submitting Cub Swanson, beating Charles Oliveira and earning decision victories over Cole Miller and Jeremy Stephens. Then in 2016 Holloway knocked off Ricardo Lamas by decision, enticing’The Bully’ into a swing-for-the-fences competition in the final 10 minutes of this garbage (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 simply taking out Pettis using a third-round knockout at UFC 206 in Toronto.
Next,’Blessed’ took on the mythical Jose Aldo Jr. to unify the featherweight belts. Holloway went into Aldo’s hometown of Rio and beat him by way of third-round KO in UFC 212. Subsequently from the rematch in Detroit in UFC 218, Holloway once more won using a third-round KO of Aldo on Dec. 2 of 2017.
Ad Coming into 2018, Holloway had the appearance 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 confronting Khabib Nurmagomedov for Ferguson’s interim lightweight belt, Holloway accepted an offer to confront Nurmagomedov on just six days of notice.
The battle April 7 didn’t occur, however, because the New York Athletic Commission forced Holloway to stop cutting weight — out of health/safety concerns — on Friday morning. He had been also scheduled to defend his featherweight title against Ortega in UFC 226 on July 7, however, he was pulled in the fight because of”concussion-like symptoms.”
Holloway was placed on the shelf while doctors ran various tests. The health care people never really figured out what the problem 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 cut would go, but he stepped on the scale this morning and then hit his mark with a half-pound to spare at 144.5 pounds.
Ortega also had an effortless weight reduction and was among the fighters to make his number. He is less than 24 hours off from his shot at fulfilling a life-long dream.
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