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Frankie Edgar says Brian Ortega not fighting at UFC 226 could cost him title shot

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

When Max Holloway was forced out of his scheduled title defense at UFC 226, challenger Brian Ortega was put into a tricky situation: accept a short notice opponent or wait for Holloway to heal up. In the end, Ortega opted not to compete at UFC 226, drawing the ire of UFC President Dana White. Now, with Ortega apparently not getting any compensation for UFC 226 at all, the question is whether Ortega made the right decision.

Not that long ago, Frankie Edgar was in a very similar situation. Edgar was supposed to face Holloway at UFC 222 before “Blessed” was forced from the card with a leg injury. Instead of waiting, Edgar opted to face Ortega and was knocked out in the first round, losing his title shot and catapulting Ortega into the number-one contender spot. But, even knowing how it turned out for himself, Edgar says Ortega may have made the wrong decision when it came to not fighting a replacement fight.

“Everybody has their own reasons,” Edgar told TMZ Sports recently. “I took that fight because I wanted to fight, I wanted to get in there. He’s a young kid, maybe he thinks it’s too risky and he didn’t want to risk his chance but sometimes when you have a chance to fight for an interim title, you’ve got to jump on it because who knows? Now Brian’s pissed off UFC and company, maybe they might not give him that shot.

“I still think he deserves it. He worked towards it. I can see why he didn’t want to risk it but he’s got to realize what might come with that. When that title comes around you’ve got to jump at it because it can get taken from you even without you doing anything wrong.”

The UFC was reportedly interested in Jeremy Stephens jumping in on short notice for UFC 226 but with Ortega declining the fight, he know may be stuck on the sidelines for awhile. Holloway withdrew from UFC 226 due to concussion like symptoms and has no timetable for a return. T.J. Grant famously never fought against after losing out on a lightweight title shot due to similar issues. Even if he does return, it is possible that Holloway could be moving up to lightweight as the featherweight cut is difficult on his body. That kind of waiting game is exactly why Edgar says he wouldn’t say no to opportunities like the one offered to Ortega.

“For me, I’m not gonna wait around and wait for a title shot or anything,” Edgar said. “I’m gonna let my shoulder heal up properly and get back training and see what happens. If there’s an opportunity, for sure I’m gonna jump on it. If not, I know The Garden is coming back in November [UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden on November 3] so that might make sense for me.”

And as for who Edgar would like to fight? The closer to a title shot the better.

“Ideal is everybody gets hurt and I get to fight for the title,” Edgar said, laughing. “But it doesn’t matter to me at this point. I figure one good win over a good opponent will get me the next title shot, no matter who is up.”