Brian Ortega expects nothing less than epic title fight with Max Holloway at UFC 231

first_imgJoin DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearDuring that span, the 27-year-old has rallied to beat underrated Brazilian Renato Moicano, choked out veteran Cub Swanson, and knocked out Frankie Edgar, becoming the first to stop the perennial contender and former lightweight champion, making it clear that not only was he the only man deserving of the opportunity to face the Hawaiian champion for the title, but also that he has the skill and the will to end “The Blessed Era” before it really gets going.Originally scheduled to meet in July at UFC 226, the bout had to be postponed when Holloway was forced to withdraw due to what was classified as “concussion-like symptoms,” setting up this weekend’s second attempt at pairing off the streaking champion and surging contender.Throughout it all — from Moicano to take two with Max — Ortega continued grinding.“I’ve just been working to be honest — training, keeping my head high, putting in work,” Ortega said regarding the five months between his scuttled first bout with Holloway and Saturday’s main event. “I just figured I would keep putting in work and eventually things are going to pan out and they did. Now, we’re here and it feels like déjà vu. I still haven’t stopped to soak it all in. After Frankie, we got ready for Max. After that fell through, we stayed ready in case it was going to be at Staples [Center] (the site of UFC 227) and then that fell through. And then we got ready to see if I could possibly be a fill-in for Khabib and Conor and then right after that, I got into training camp for my fight. It’s been no breaks.”He doesn’t have any intention of slowing down either; at least not until after he fights next summer.“There is no break until next summer,” he said with a laugh before detailing his plans. “We do this — we fight, we enjoy two weeks of December — and then in January, I’m leaving for three months to film a movie. I’ll be gone for three months and when I get back from that, we start training camp again for my fight in the summer. It’s non-stop. I love the journey part of it — being with my friends, training with them, hanging out with them and bonding with them on the family side. But I do miss my own family as well, so I just can’t wait to just hang out, relax and get fat.”Putting away a disturbing amount of Jack in the Box and packing on the pounds is far off in the distance. For now, Ortega is locked in on the task at hand — unseating Holloway from atop the featherweight division and continuing to add to his own budding legacy.Though he will battle for championship gold on Saturday evening, Ortega’s arrival at this position wasn’t preordained. While he always showed skill and potential, the Harbor Area hopeful really only took on the look of a title contender and possible champion over his last few fights.Victories over Thiago Tavares and Diego Brandao made it clear that Ortega was more than just a regional talent destined for a middling career in the UFC Octagon and his last-minute stoppage win over Clay Guida established him as someone to watch in the 145-pound ranks. The win over Moicano showed his heart, grit and toughness while adding to his growing reputation as a guy who can manufacture a finish out of nowhere.All four of those stoppage wins came in the third round of relatively close fights, which made it difficult to really get a true read on the depth of Ortega’s skills and his ceiling as a prospect. But once he made quick work of Swanson in his first main event assignment and then iced Edgar in the first round — on short notice, no less — it became clear to everyone that the Black Belt Surfing representative and Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belt was the real deal.Although he still hasn’t stopped to take a full inventory of everything he’s accomplished in the last couple years, Ortega has recognized that he’s continually improved, especially in his most recent outings, which he attributes to finally starting to understand the technical aspects of the fight more and more and starting to implement them when he steps into the cage.“They threw me in with so many wolves at a young age that I had no choice but to win or lose and I refuse to lose, so now I feel like I’m getting the technical part of stuff,” explained Ortega. “I feel like I’m actually learning now. I don’t feel like it’s just ‘train hard and make sure you endure any storm.’ Now it’s ‘go out there and implement what you do; showcase your skills. Don’t just go with the flow.’ Since we’ve been doing that, things have been good. We had the Cub Swanson fight, which was really good, and we had the Frankie Edgar (fight), which was great.”And now it’s finally time for he and Holloway to meet in the Octagon in what has the potential to be one of the best fights of the year.It has taken longer to come together than anticipated and endured a false start earlier this summer, but Saturday evening, the two streaking standouts will collide, with the featherweight title hanging in the balance. As far as Ortega is considered, he and Holloway have no choice but to set Scotiabank Arena ablaze.“We better!” he boomed when asked if he expects to deliver an instant classic with Holloway on Saturday evening.Over-the-top expectations aside, the challenger really does believe the UFC 231 main event will be epic. Brian Ortega has spent the last 17 months putting in work, building towards the opportunity that stands before him on Saturday night in Toronto.Since returning from a one-year hiatus at UFC 214, Ortega has transformed from an unbeaten prospect with vast potential into the top contender in the 145-pound weight division; a soft-spoken, blue-eyed assassin who faces Max Holloway for the featherweight title in the main event of UFC 231 this weekend in “The Six.” Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a year“Both of us have a lot of pressure — being the main event, being these young guys — but I think once we get in there, him and I both know what our objective is and we’re going out there to kill. You have two young and hungry people who refuse to quit and one of them has got to give.”Don’t expect either of them to give very easily.last_img read more