Brian Ortega’s paradigm-shifting victory over Frankie Edgar on Saturday night at UFC 222 brought into focus one of the most exciting potential fights of the year: Ortega vs. UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway.
Ortega stepped in to fight Edgar in the evening’s co-feature after Holloway, who was originally scheduled to headline the card at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas against Edgar, had to pull out of the bout due to injury.
And with Ortega stating his case in fine form by knocking Edgar out in the opening round and becoming the first fighter ever to finish the super tough former lightweight champ, the clear-cut next title matchup is set.
UFC president Dana White confirmed at the UFC 222 post-fight press conference that Ortega is next in line for Holloway.
“The fact we now have a title fight with him against Holloway, you know, Holloway looked incredible against Jose Aldo in his last fight and I’m excited about this,” White said.
The only thing that surprised White about Ortega’s performance was the fact the submission specialist got the job done by way of his strikes.
“The guy is so incredible and well-rounded,” White said of Ortega. “You’d think when he goes in and fights Frankie Edgar you’d bet anything he’s going to sub him if he’s going to win. And then he goes and knocks him out in the first round. This kid is super talented, has incredible personality.”
Now, the only question left is when the fight will be made. Holloway tweeted out that he wanted to fight at UFC 226, which is on July 7 in Las Vegas. White said at this point, the timing of the fight is a matter of waiting for the doctor to clear Holloway to return.
“I just saw [Holloway], he came on The Ultimate Fighter as one of the coaches,” White said. “He looks good, he’s walking good and, I don’t know, we gotta see what his doctor said and when he’s cleared, we’ll make that fight immediately.”