UFC 231 will this Sunday (AEDT) from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada. The event features a number of interesting bouts, headlined by a featherweight title bout between the champion Max Holloway and the undefeated challenger Brian Ortega. We take a look at the headline fight and give our betting tips below.
The UFC featherweight division has arguably been the most interesting division in mixed martial arts over the last few years. Conor McGregor famously made the division and its competitors household names when he defeated Jose Aldo to unify the title but never defended it.
Jose Aldo went on to claim the interim title by defeating Frankie Edgar but was later defeated by Max Holloway twice, once to lose the title and once in a rematch in an attempt to regain the title. Holloway will now make his second title defence against Brian Ortega this weekend at UFC 231.
After a meteoric rise from Brian Ortega, which saw him win his first 14 professional MMA fights and his first seven in the UFC, his challenge for the featherweight title was originally scheduled for UFC 226, but Holloway had to pull out due to suffering concussion like symptoms in the lead up to the fight. The two will finally do battle this weekend in Toronto in what should be a very intriguing fight.
Holloway looked shaky early in his career, dropping three of his first ten fights, two via decision to start his professional MMA career with a 7-3 record. However, since losing to Conor McGregor back in 2013, Holloway has been undefeated in 12 fights.
After losing to McGregor, Holloway was sent back into the abyss of the featherweight division, fighting some relatively unknown names in his rise back to the top. His last five opponents in Charles Oliveira, Jeremy Stephens, Ricardo Lamas and Jose Aldo have all been top class.
Holloway prides himself on his stand-up fighting. He has great take-down defence and loves to keep the fight uproght, which is what he will try to do this weekend against Ortega who is a great technician on the mat. Holloway is quite long for a featherweight and should look to use the length advantage in the stand-up game.
Ortega’s rise in the featherweight division has been meteoric. He currently holds a perfect 14-0 record and amazingly, since joining the UFC, no fighter has been able to go the distance with him. His resume does lack star power, however. He was great against Frankie Edgar in his last fight, claiming a Round 1 KO but Edgar has been arguably his only world class opponent to date.
Ortega’s stand up game is opportunistic, which was what allowed him to produce a surprise shot on Edgar before finishing with hammer fists. Ortega’s favoured position, however, is on the ground. He has won seven of his 14 professional fights by submission and is already regarded as one of the best tacticians on the ground in the division.
Ortaga might be the talk of the town at the moment but it’s hard to look past the form and resume of Holloway at the moment. Many forget that Holloway is just 27 years of age because he fought and lost to McGregor so long ago. The fact is that Holloway is better now than he has ever been and Ortega has never faced an opponent at this level.
Holloway is the bigger fighter and should use that extra size to his advantage here. He is a smart fighter and will use his length to stay well clear of Ortagas elbows and knees that have been so successful in taking fights to the ground. We think Max gets the better of Ortega here, stopping the fight in round three or four.
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