First, let me start off by saying, what a fight! This is a featherweight matchup for the ages. The tested and battle-proven champion, versus the undefeated contender. When looking at the style matchup here, one can’t help but to get excited: a relentless, aggressive, and dynamic striker––with serious finishing skills and a well-rounded grappling game––versus a world-class grappler with well-rounded striking and proven finishing ability. The big question on everyone’s mind seems to be: Is Max ok? Since nobody seems to have that answer, not to mention, that nobody seems to know what was even wrong with Max that caused him to have to pull out of his last few fights, there are unanswered questions hanging over this fight that make predictions cloudy at best. I’ll give it a shot.
As stated, both fighters have finishing ability: Holloway has finished top-shelf opposition, including––among others––Anthony Pettis, Jose Aldo (twice) and Cub Swanson. Brian Ortega has finished Diego Brandao, Cub Swanson and is the first fighter to ever finish Frankie Edgar. So, clearly, either fighter has what it takes to take it to the other and come away with the win, or possibly even the finish. The clear differences between Max Holloway and Brian Ortega come to light when comparing each to the other at their given specialties.
Max Holloway has shown an aggressive striking style, putting on a pace that most fighters can’t handle and he eventually overcomes them with volume. If he has his usual sharpness and aggression, I think he has what it takes to beat Brian Ortega. However, the question still remains as to whether or not Max is fully recovered and if he will come to the cage with rust or not. The blessed one has been out of the cage for over a year, and with mysterious (and yet unexplained) health issues in his recent past, there are still questions looming.
Brian “T-City” Ortega has been on fire. He boasts an undefeated UFC record and numerous impressive finished over top-level fighters. He has ridiculous submissions that are seemingly instantaneous and come from anywhere, and he has legit striking skills. Ortega has the ability to create scrambles on the feet that could lead to submissions, and he has shown he can put top fighters away with strikes. That being said, Max Holloway is his toughest matchup to date, is good everywhere, and has what it takes to provide a detour to Ortega’s run for the title. But, once again, questions remain.
Because this fight has these questions about Max Holloway’s state of health and potential ring rust, it’s a tougher one to call. If Max hadn’t had the stumbles that lead to pulling out of his last few fights, I’d give the decided edge to him. However, with those questions still unanswered, it would be easy to pick Brian Ortega to come away with the win––likely creating a scramble that leads to a submission. With all this considered though, above all else, Max Holloway is a fighter, and this is a fight. Prediction: Max Holloway wins a hard-fought decision over Brian Ortega.