Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight technicians Max Holloway and Brian Ortega clashed last night (Dec. 8, 2018) at UFC 231 from inside Scotiabank Center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Owner of UFC’s longest win streak, Holloway faced a lot of doubt as to whether he would actually make it to the Octagon after a pair of problematic fight weeks. The Hawaiian seemingly had no issues this time around, but that positive result simply meant he had a remarkably difficult task ahead of him in Ortega. “T-City” has been nothing short of spectacular throughout his UFC career, taking chances and scoring dramatic finishes with remarkable consistency.
It was a true match up of the division’s No. 1 opposite No. 2, which are becoming more rare as of late. In short, it was a must-see fight.
Holloway opened the fight rangy and relaxed, keep his hands wide and firing straights down the middle. It didn’t take long for the champion to begin finding his range, peppering his opponent with one-two combinations and shifting his timing between punches. Before long, Ortega’s nose was bloodied, and Holloway began working the body more.
Ortega had his moments though. His check hook found a home a few times, and he briefly scored a takedown. Also of note was that Holloway threw very few kicks, likely hoping to avoid any potential grappling exchanges with the jiu-jitsu ace.
It was a clear opening round for the Hawaiian.
A clear advantage shifted onto an onslaught by the midway point of the second frame. Ortega never backed down or away from exchanges, but his offense became more limited to single counter shots, whereas Holloway was flurrying with dozens of straight punches. Holloway also did a tremendous job of countering those single shots. In addition, a great technique from the Hawaiian was to throw a one-two or one-one-two then shift Southpaw, throwing another rangy one-two.
Ortega managed to land some hard shots throughout the round, but he was in a deep hole and his face was stained with blood.
Ortega came out fired up in the third, opening with a hard body and throwing in combinations again. He landed well and bloodied Holloway up a bit, even threatening a back take at one point. After that exchange, Ortega seemed a bit looser, throwing some whipping low kicks and more volume in general. Holloway remained calm though, recovering some distance and going back to his cross as Ortega pushed forward.
Both men did big damage across five minutes.
Holloway wanted no part of any momentum shift. Opening the championship rounds, Holloway looked relaxed and aggressive again, back to his loose hands and stance-shifting. Immediately, the beatdown was back on: Holloway went to town with long combinations, landing straight shots, pulling, and landing even more of ‘em. Ortega’s face returned to its previously destroyed state and then deteriorated further as his eye closed. All the while, Holloway just kept landing. Ortega’s attempts to grapple became increasingly desperate, although he never looked to quit.
At the end of the round, the doctors called the bout.
Stellar performance from Holloway. Once again, his footwork and movement are largely unmatched in the sport of MMA. While staying in range of his opponent, Holloway pressures, switches stances, and lands hundreds of punches. More than that, he does with a ridiculously high accuracy rate and avoids a large amount of his opponent’s blows.
I cannot even begin to describe how difficult it is to fight like that.
Holloway largely abandoned kicks in this fight — not a choice I loved, but it worked beautifully! — which really highlighted his boxing. In the pocket, Holloway was so relaxed and let his hands flow, most of his one-two combinations were effortless and fast rather than strained. Fighting with that type of half power that the Diaz brothers made popular is the only way to maintain such a high-volume, as Holloway managed to throw 500 strikes in 20 minutes!
Remarkable work from a special champion.
Ortega should be proud. Much of the fight consisted of him getting nailed by straight crosses, but Ortega never wavered or was even dropped. He kept looking for openings, landed some big shots, ripped the body a few times, and there was serious tension each time he managed to latch onto Holloway.
“T-City” is a great fighter, and this is only the beginning for him.
Last night, Max Holloway picked apart Brian Ortega for a late knockout win. Who will ‘Blessed’ face next?
For complete UFC 231: “Holloway vs. Ortega” results and play-by-play, click HERE!