On Saturday night (Dec. 8), UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway will once again put his 145-pound title on the line against unbeaten top contender Brian Ortega live from the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada in a bout that represents the best of what mixed martial arts has to offer.
In an era that seems to continuously be defined by “money fights” and “super fights,” Holloway vs. Ortega represents the complete opposite, as it undeniably matches the top two contenders in the featherweight division up against each other. In addition, both men are in the primes of their respective careers. There’s simply no better time for the fight to take place than now.
How We Got Here
For Holloway, the road to this bout has been a bit of a rough one. Last April, the man known as “Blessed” was scheduled to defend his title against former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar in the main event of UFC 222, but he was forced to withdraw with a leg injury. He then accepted a short notice lightweight title fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov at April’s UFC 223, but he was pulled from the card due to weight-cutting concerns.
Finally, Holloway was slated to meet Ortega at UFC 226 in July, but once again, things went south. He was forced to withdraw due to concussion-like symptoms. Regardless, he remains one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport.
A native of Waianae, Hawaii, the 26-year-old Holloway has been on a tear since suffering a decision loss to former two-division world champion Conor McGregor in 2013. Holloway is coming off of back-to-back wins over ex-titleholder Jose Aldo and has finished nine of those 12 victories. He’s remained unbeaten in that stretch.
The 27-year-old Ortega, meanwhile, has also established himself as a force to be reckoned with at 145 pounds. He holds a 14-0-1 record and is riding a six-fight winning streak that includes six stoppages. Most recently, “T-City” became the first man to finish Edgar, viciously knocking out the New Jersey native at UFC 222.
The Stylistic Match-up
Aside from the credentials of both men, the fight is incredibly intriguing from a stylistic standpoint. Both fighters are quite large for the weight class in addition to being very well-rounded.
A lengthy fighter, Holloway pairs crisp boxing skills with an endless gas tank used to put a relentless pace on opponents. He’s also continuously honed his grappling skills in order to round out his game.
Ortega, on the other hand, may very well be the best submission artist in the division. He trains under the tutelage of the renowned Rener Gracie. He, however, has also rounded out his skills, improving his striking game tremendously over the years.
Ultimately, this bout serves as a breath of fresh air. In today’s day and age, it’s not always the case that we see the best fighting the best at the perfect time in mixed martial arts. But at its core, fighting should feature just that in order to determine true supremacy. And with Holloway and Ortega, we have two elite level finishers ready to settle the score.
It doesn’t get better than this.
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