The sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) is awaiting this weekend’s (Sat., December 8, 2018) UFC 231 from Toronto with both anticipation and apprehension. The featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Brian Ortega is one of the most awaited fights in the sport right now.
However, it’s also one that has fallen apart before. Originally set for July’s UFC 226, it was called when Holloway exhibited “concussion-like” symptoms the week leading up to the card. The disappointing cancellation lead to a string of concerning events that ultimately saw Holloway removed from three big title fights this year.
It’s gotten so murky that “Blessed” won’t answer questions about his health heading into the bout. He’s often teased a move up to lightweight to combat the issues that seem to show up when he begins his draining cut. But he is supposedly awaiting the results of an ongoing investigation into what happened at UFC 226. His team still doesn’t know what it was.
That has Ortega on edge, and understandably so. During a recent media luncheon (via MMA Fighting), “T-City” was flabbergasted to learn Holloway still doesn’t know what’s wrong with him:
“Both of us did a show in Canada and that was the first time I heard it,” Ortega said. “He was like, ‘We still don’t know what it is.’ I looked over during the show like, What the f*ck do you mean you don’t know what it is? I was like, Are you serious? And we’re scheduled already not too far from now. I don’t know. I pray for the guy and I hope he’s good.”
Ortega touched on how Holloway has made it very close to all the fights he’s withdrawn from this year. Yet when the time to make weight comes, for one reason or another, he hasn’t been able to. The surging contender is still concerned about what may happen, and he thinks the cut triggers it.
But “T-City” wants to be at the top, and he knows beating Holloway is the only way to get there for now:
“He’s made it all the way through his training camp, he’s always successful with that,” Ortega said. “It’s just these last … I don’t know if the [weight] cutting triggers something. I don’t know what it is. He doesn’t know what it is. But there is a concern there. Obviously, he is the best and I want to fight him. That’s why he’s got the belt around him. For me to fight him, it would secure my name at the top as well.”
The challenger seems leary about the situation. He thinks Holloway and his team have undergone all the right tests because he’s fighting. Then again, he isn’t one hundred percent positive about that. The fact they still don’t know what happened is still lurking in the back of Ortega’s mind:
“They did all the tests, right?” Ortega said “They evaluated, they made sure he was healthy. The UFC, being the name that they are, I don’t think they’re gonna let someone go in there if they’re not in the right state.
“What does kind of seem a little bit off is the the fact that they still can’t seem to figure out what’s going on. That’s kind of where it’s like, well are you guys being professional with this? Or do you guys really want to push this fight? I don’t know.”
A Legitimate Concern
Ultimately, Ortega’s concern is for Holloway’s health, even if he’s trying to damage it in a way. The California challenger doesn’t want to be the one that triggered something bad happening to the young Hawaiian champion – and father:
“My concern is always for him. I said it before, even though we’re fighting, I still have respect and love for the guy. He has a family, he has a kid and I don’t want to be the guy that triggers something bad to happen. I wouldn’t like to live with myself with that.”