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Brian Ortega cleared for UFC return, eyes Max Holloway rematch

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MMA: UFC 231-Weigh Ins Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight title contender, Brian Ortega, is planning to make his mixed martial arts (MMA) return this summer, preferably during International Fight Week in Las Vegas, or when the promotion returns to Staples Center this August in Los Angeles.

And his primary goal is to get right back into the 145-pound title hunt.

“Saturday was my official time when everything got cleared,” Holloway told TMZ. “My nose is cleared, my hand is cleared, everything. Now it’s time to get out there and put my hand to the test and really get to work now. I’m looking at something maybe in summer. I’m ready to go back out there and fight whoever I have to fight, prove myself again, show the world that (UFC 231) just wasn’t my night and we can make it happen again.”

Ortega (14-1, 1 NC) suffered the first loss of his professional career when Max Holloway beat him pillar to post in the UFC 231 pay-per-view (PPV) event last December. “T-City” broke both his hand and nose, but also demonstrated some impressive recuperative powers just days after the fight.

Now he’s ready for the rematch.

“There’s a lot of things I could have done different, especially if I showed up in the right state of mind,” Ortega continued. “I told everyone, this is not the first time him and I are gonna meet. We’re gonna meet each other multiple times in this weight class or the next. We’re both young, we’re both learning. With the right adjustments, it could really easily be a different fight, and without breaking my freakin’ hand and nose and getting everything messed up.”

How fast Ortega gets back into the title picture could depend on what happens in the showdown between Jose Aldo and Alexander Volkanovski, who collide this weekend at UFC 236. “Junior” is unlikely to get a “Blessed” rematch after previously losing twice to the Hawaiian.

Volkanovski, however, would be 20-1 with a victory over Aldo, which is expected to elevate him to No. 1 contender. That means Ortega can fight the Brazilian, or perhaps face the No. 7 ranked (and 19-1) Zabit Magomedsharipov.

Either way, there are plenty of great fights right now in the featherweight division.