Late last night, the news that UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway had been forced out of his awaited co-main event with Brian Ortega at Saturday’s UFC 226 sent shockwaves through the MMA universe.
As has unfortunately become the case for seemingly every UFC pay-per-view event this year, the promotion was left scrambling to find a potential replacement for “Blessed,” but alas, it was not meant to be.
Ortega’s camp recently confirmed that “T-City” would not be competing on the midsummer spectacle, instead taking the perhaps more intelligent route of waiting for Holloway when he does return. However, there was the possibility of another high-profile featherweight fight taking place on the card.
According to a report earlier today from ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, the UFC offered former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar, who rebounded from a knockout loss to Ortega this March by defeating Cub Swanson a month later, an interim title bout with surging veteran Jeremy Stephens, who is currently scheduled to on longtime former champion Jose Aldo in the UFC Boise co-main on July 28.
As he’s also shown throughout his stellar career. Edgar wanted to be “The Answer,” but there just wasn’t enough time to make it happen:
Per sources, the UFC tried to make Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens for interim featherweight title late, late last night, but it’s just too short of notice for Edgar. He wanted to do it, I’m told, but wasn’t feasible.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) July 5, 2018
The fact that the reported fight was going to be for the interim featherweight title is curious as there’s a clear top contender in Ortega, while clogging up the division with a placeholder champion would have only further complicated matters.
With Holloway already pulling out of three fights in 2018 and it only being July, there’s no certainty he returns anytime soon now that he’s dealing with concussion-like symptoms.
An interim champion in the division would not have added clarity to that situation – quite the opposite would have been true.
Edgar can now wait to see how the situation plays out because fighting at UFC 226 just wasn’t feasible even if he owns a unanimous decision victory over ‘Lil’ Heathen’ at UFC 205.