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UFC 231 start time, TV schedule, who is fighting tonight at ‘Holloway vs Ortega’

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the pay-per-view (PPV) business tonight (Sat., Dec. 8, 2018) for UFC 231, which is set to go down from inside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The event will be headlined by a Featherweight title fight between division champion, Max Holloway, defending his belt against top-ranked contender, Brian Ortega. In the co-main event, former women’s Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk will face off against Valentina Shevchenko for the vacant women’s Flyweight title.

What’s Hot:

Holloway has been tearing up the 145-pound division for the last five years, winning 12 straight fights, defeating one of the most dominant champions ever in Jose Aldo along the way, and then demolishing him again five months later. His last loss was against Conor McGregor years ago, and “Blessed” has been a man possessed ever since. His momentum has taken a bit of a hit as of late, though, as he was forced to withdraw from his UFC 222 fight against Frankie Edgar with a leg injury. He was then pegged as late replacement against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223, but the commission opted to yank him because of his tough weight cut. But, it wasn’t really the Hawaiian’s fault — he didn’t get much time to shed the weight. Prior to his initial scheduled bout against Ortega at UFC 226, “Blessed” was once again forced out, this time because of some health issues that still don’t seem very clear to this day. Which brings us to UFC 231, as Holloway will step in the cage for the first time in a year against one of the hottest fighter’s going in the sport today.

Ortega has gone undefeated (14-0-1, 6-0-1) in the sport so far, and at 27 years of age, the future looks very bright for “T-City.” Holloway will be without a doubt his toughest test to date after finishing all of his opponents inside the Octagon so far ... including cracking this very-tough nut. If he can manage to do it, the doors of opportunity will burst wide open for Ortega. He already has the support of “Iron Man” himself, and he’s already getting in good with UFC owner Ari Emmanuel, which could have a lot to do with a new movie role he just snagged. But, that is only the surface of what could be in store for Ortega, as being UFC champion gives fighters more exposure, more shine, cash ... you name it. This truly is a huge opportunity for the submission wizard.

What’s Not:

It’s a major PPV event, and it feels that way to an extent because of the championship doubleheader, but the rest of the main card is simply lacking in intrigue despite have some solid match ups. Indeed, they just are not the ones that get you up in the morning. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

Original Card Vs. Actual Card:

Antonio Carlos Junior was set to face Elias Theodorou, but he was replaced by Eryk Anders after he suffered an injury. Renato Moicano and Mirsad Bektic were set to compete at this event, but Bektic was forced out with an injury. As a result, Moicano was pegged as a standby for the headlining bout, but he failed to make weight. So while he is still eligible to step in on super short notice, he will not be eligible to become champion should disaster strike between now and showtime.


Aside from Carlos Junior and Bektic coming down with injuries, John Makdessi was forced out of his scheduled fight opposite Carlos Diego Ferreira. His replacement, Jesse Ronson, was also struck down with an injury and ultimately replaced by Kyle Nelson.

New Blood:

Nelson earned the opportunity to fight for UFC after a pair of injuries to Carlos Diego Ferreira’s opponents. He brings with him a 12-1 record, which includes a six-fight win streak. It may not be the most-ideal situation to step in against a monster like Ferreira on short notice, but when opportunity knocks, a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter eager to make it to the big show should always answer.

How The “Prelims” Look:

The “Prelims” undercard will feature a pivotal women’s Strawweight showdown as Nina Ansaroff will face off against former title contender, Claudia Gadelha. Claudia has been there, done that, taking the tough fights, impressing throughout her Octagon career. Nina, despite being talented, hasn’t picked up that staple victory to put her in the mix. Taking out Gadelha accomplishes that goal and adds to her impressive three-fight win streak.

Also, Eryk Anders will look to get back in the win column when he faces off against Elias Theodorou. Plus, former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner, Brad Katona, will look to keep his undefeated mark intact when he faces off against Mathew Lopez, loser of his last two fights. Jessic Eye will look to keep her sudden resurgence going, as she hopes to win her third straight fight when she faces Katlyn Chookagian.

Who Needs A Win Badly:

Jimi Manuwa hasn’t had the best of luck in his last two trips inside the Octagon, getting knocked out by Volkan Oezdemir in less than one minute, then getting worked for 15 minutes by Jan Blachowicz. He’ll be facing a very tough out in Thiago Santos, who has won his last two contests. In fact, he is 6-1 over his last seven UFC fights and has been solid overall throughout his run with the promotion.

That said, if he can get a win over Manuwa, not only will it be big for his career, but it would be devastating for “Posterboy’s.” I don’t think it will be the end for Manuwa inside the eight-walled cage should he lose, but it will definitely put him on thin ice.

Interest Level: 8/10

I give it a high score because I am highly-intrigued by the two title fights. Ortega has pretty much stolen most headlines leading up to the fight, which hasn’t sat too well with “Blessed,” saying fight fans have already seen what Ortega’s accomplished through himself ... only better. Still, Ortega is out to prove that he isn’t all hype, and that the California boy who still sleeps on a mattress on the floor isn’t about to let the biggest stage of all break him, stifle him or even take him out of his comfort zone. Ortega simply looks like he belongs ... and he is motivated to put an exclamation point on all the hype.

Holloway, meanwhile, has been there, done that. And since he’s pretty much taken out most of the tops dogs at 145 pounds, a talented prospect like Ortega won’t do much to rattle him. One of the things Holloway needs to answer, though, is if he is truly healthy to fight at the highest level again. He’s proven can make weight, but since he most recent withdrawal at UFC 226 is still shrouded in mystery, there are tons of questions that have yet-to-be answered. A dazzling performance and win over Ortega should be enough to silence everyone. After UFC 231, Holloway will have even more opportunities to add to his legacy. That’s because a move up to Lightweight is inevitable. A loss could expedite that, but a win won’t necessarily put a stop to it. If anything, it could open up the door to a champion vs champion fight.

Jedrzejczyk is determined to go down as the G.O.A.T. of women’s MMA, and since Ronda Rousey no longer cares to compete for the sport after two straight knockout losses, Joanna is in the driver’s seat to accomplish that goal. Becoming the promotions first-ever female to win two titles in two different divisions could go a long way in aiding her quest. Standing in her way, however, is a woman who knows her all too well, having beaten her several time in the Muay Thai circuit. Shevchenko is as tough and as talented as they come, taking out the likes of Holly Holm, and going toe-to-toe twice against current women’s Bantamweight champ, Amanda Nunes.

A UFC title has always eluded her, though. but becoming UFC’s 125-pound champion will not only give her the validation she needs, it will open up bigger matchups moving forward. Because we know UFC isn’t opposed to booking big-time women’s super fights.

Also going down on the main card is a match up between Gunnar Nelson and Alex Oliveira. While they have recognizable names, they haven’t been able to put together enough solid wins to catapult themselves to the next level, as far as the title conversation is concerned. A win will be big for either man’s goals to be considered one of the elite in the division.

We should be in for a good night of fights.

UFC 231 Fight Card:

UFC 231 PPV Main Event:

145 lbs.: UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega

UFC 231 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):

125 lbs.: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk for vacant flyweight title
170 lbs.: Gunnar Nelson vs. Alex Oliveira
145 lbs.: Kyle Bochniak vs. Hakeem Dawodu
205 lbs.: Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos

UFC 231 ‘Prelims’ On FOX Sports 1 (Start Time 8 p.m. ET):

115 lbs.: Nina Ansaroff vs. Claudia Gadelha
155 lbs.: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns
115 lbs.: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jessica Eye
185 lbs.: Eryk Anders vs. Elias Theodorou

UFC 231 ‘Prelims’ On Fight Pass (Start Time 6 p.m. ET):

135 lbs.: Brad Katona vs. Matthew Lopez
170 lbs.: Chad Laprise vs. Dhiego Lima
155 lbs.: Diego Ferreira vs. Kyle Nelson
205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Aleksandar Rakic

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