Holloway vs Ortega Preview

For true combat sports fans, it does not get any bigger than this. Two fighters approaching their prime, squaring off for the world title. The highest level of mixed martial arts that one could ask for. That’s exactly what the featherweight title bout between champ Max Holloway and challenger Brian Ortega is. A showdown between two young fighters that have all but cleared out the division and now it is time for them to meet at the summit. 

For the reigning champ, Max Holloway, it’s nothing less than a legacy fight. It’s been nothing but victories for the “Blessed” one ever since his decision loss in the memorable fight against Conor McGregor back in 2013. Following that setback, the “blessed era” began and Holloway has been on a tear winning 12 consecutive fights, including two dominant stoppages of arguably the greatest featherweight of all time, Jose Aldo, to unify and defend the featherweight strap. And that title right there is what Holloway is after now, to be called the greatest featherweight of all time. 

Looking at his meteoric rise and the dominance and swagger with which he performs every time he sets foot in the octagon, it would be hard to make a case against Holloway being up there as one of, if not the greatest 145-pounder if he can put away the tricky submission artist in Ortega on Saturday. 

For the undefeated Brian Ortega, it is all about finally reaching the top, against all odds, and proving that he is the best featherweight on the planet. Ortega has taken the UFC by storm ever since his debut in 2014. A very impressive debut at that, with a win over Mike De La Torre via a rear naked choke. That was soon blurred by Ortega testing positive for steroid use and the fight being overturned to a No Contest. From hero to zero straight off the bat. Getting caught “juicing” in your first fight could make or break you, and it was most definitely the former for the LA fighter. 

That incident for Ortega, was very similar to what the McGregor loss was for Holloway, it was a minor setback for a major comeback.

Since then, Ortega has notched up a six-fight win streak, stopping all of his opponents in the process. A wide variety of submission and knockout victories quickly made Ortega a fan favorite and also one of the most entertaining fighters in the organization. Experts were awaiting the moment when the hype train finally gets derailed, but the Ortega express is still picking up speed as he approaches his first title shot.

This fight is as close to a guaranteed barn burner as you can get, as both fighters are very well rounded mixed martial artists that will want to put on a show whether the fight is standing or on the ground. 

Holloway is an outstanding, powerful striker with a more than respectable ground game and Ortega is a respectable striker with knockout power and a spectacular ground game, acquiring his knowledge straight from the well of Brazilian jiu jitsu phenoms that are the Gracie family (Ortega’s BJJ coach is Rener Gracie).

Ortega said it best during the ceremonial weigh ins when asked about his thoughts on this fight by Joe Rogan:

“It’s very rare in the UFC where you get two young, hungry motherf***ers who are ready to throw down and we’re going to give you a show that you have been waiting for. It’s time now.” 

This fight could easily be a showdown for the ages and a fight of the year contender for sure before the fighters even touch gloves. It is a must watch on what looks to be a fantastic night of fights. 


Sports journalist based in CA, USA. Twitter: @ArionArmeniakos

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