Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight contenders Brian Ortega and Frankie Edgar collided last night (Sat., March 3, 2018) at UFC 222 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Edgar has been a champion or top contender inside the Octagon since his 2009 victory over Sean Sherk. “Iron” has shown no signs of slowing down, so he jumped at the opportunity to square off with another rising contender when his title shot opposite Max Holloway fell through.
Of course, Edgar’s decade of excellence makes adding his name to your resume a huge accomplishment. Ortega has proven that his potent mix of boxing, jiu-jitsu, and pure guts is not to be taken lightly, raising himself into the top five and earning this title eliminator match.
Edgar opened the bout with aggression and sharp striking, firing the jab constantly and digging low kicks. Ortega responded with good jabs of his own, but Edgar was the more accurate and active striker early.
Before long, Edgar’s overhand was coming over Ortega’s shoulder and landing on the chin. Ortega tried to force the issue and make it more of a scrap, but Edgar’s footwrok from the outside kept him safe from Ortega’s power shots. Outside of a few heavy kicks, Orterga wasn’t able to connect with anything too significant.
In the final 30 seconds, Ortega connected with a brutal counter elbow that stunned his foe. Edgar maintained his composure and did not shoot into a guillotine, but that didn’t save him from Ortega’s punches. “T-City” flurried and connecting with huge punches while Edgar tried to latch onto a clinch, but an uppercut from the up-and-comer shut his lights out.
Ortega is unlike any fighter I’ve ever seen. He’s undefeated and remarkably dangerous, yet he seems to consistently lose most exchanges until he suddenly wins. Edgar seemed a difficult match up for him: a high-volume fighter who’s incredibly hard to finish. Ortega became the first man to do so with accurate counter punches and heavy shots, and I think it really helped that Edgar was so wary of his jiu-jitsu that he could not revert to his wrestling roots.
If Ortega hurts you, there’s nowhere safe to go.
Aside from that, Ortega’s boxing continues to sharpen with each fight. It’s easy to visualize Max Holloway picking him apart only to be suddenly rocked or strangled, which makes that bout extremely intriguing. Win or lose, Ortega is already an incredible fighter with amazing skill.
This is a devastating turn of events for Edgar. Instead of squaring off with the champion, he faced off with the next most dangerous man in the division. Everything was going well until it wasn’t, and this time Edgar’s famous durability and heart were unable to carry him deep into the fight.
Moving forward, it’s not clear where Edgar goes next. If he can drop down to Bantamweight, that might be the best move, but weight drops rarely end well for older fighters. If he remains around the Featherweight division, he’s still an intriguing match up for Holloway, but Edgar will have to get a couple wins back before receiving a potential title shot. At 36 years old, there are nothing but extremely difficult options in Edgar’s immediate future.
As a Jersey boy and Frankie Edgar-inspired fighter, it was mildly depressing to witness the potential end of the “Iron” era.
At UFC 222, Brian Ortega shocked the world with a brutal first-round knockout win. Will Ortega capture gold in his next bout?
For complete UFC 222: “Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya” results and play-by-play, click HERE!