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With Max Holloway possibly ‘water poisoned,’ Brian Ortega now wants to fight for vacant title at UFC 227

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UFC 222: Edgar v Ortega Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

We still don’t have an official diagnosis for reigning featherweight champion Max Holloway, who was pulled from his UFC 226 co-main event against Brian Ortega for what was initially thought to be “concussion-like symptoms.”

Now, a week after his “Blessed” withdrawal, the leading theory is yet another grueling weight cut, which may have resulted in water poisoning as the Hawaiian tried to lose weight — and stay alive — on his trip down to 145 pounds.

“We heard that he was water loading, which is super dangerous,” UFC President Dana White told Kevin Iole. “When you water load, and I didn’t know this for those of you out there that might not know, either, there is such thing as water poisoning. And you can actually drink too much water and die from it.”

That left Ortega high and dry at last weekend’s pay-per-view (PPV) event in Las Vegas and while he’s too business savvy to waste his title shot on the substitute strap, he would be willing to hop back into the cage next month for the one-and-only title.

“From what I’m getting now, they said that Max might not fight for a long time, and he might not even fight 145,” Ortega told Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. ”So I told them then, make the belt vacant and then I’ll fight whoever you guys want me to fight ASAP. I’ll fight them at UFC 227 here in Staples (Center in Los Angeles) but let’s get that situated.”

The leading ranked contenders would be Jeremy Stephens and Frankie Edgar, the latter of whom was already condemned by “T-City” back in March. As for “Lil’ Heathen,” he has a pre-existing beef with Ortega and already offered to battle for the belt.

Still lots of missing pieces to this featherweight puzzle ... stay tuned.