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Max Holloway out of UFC 226 featherweight title bout with Brian Ortega

UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway is out of his scheduled UFC 226 title defense in Las Vegas against top contender Brian Ortega.

MMA Fighting confirmed a Wednesday night report by ESPN.

According to a statement provided to MMA Fighting by Holloway’s manager, Brian Butler-Au, Holloway has been struggling with concussion-like symptoms, which caused him to be admitted to a local hospital on Monday night.

While Holloway felt better on Tuesday and argued with his team to stay in the fight, his condition worsened on Wednesday and Holloway was pulled from the card.

Ortega’s coach, Rener Gracie, told MMA Fighting that the UFC has not contacted Ortega’s team about a potential replacement opponent. But, Gracie said, if it isn’t a title fight, Ortega likely would not be interested.

Wednesday’s events marked the third time this year Holloway was pulled from a fight in the leadup to a major card. Holloway withdrew from a UFC 222 defense against Frankie Edgar due to a leg injury. Then, after Holloway accepted a short-notice fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223, the featherweight champ was pulled the day before the bout during his weight cut.

Holloway’s withdrawal continued the UFC’s run of mishaps leading up to recent pay-per-view events.

Last month, Yoel Romero missed weight for a bout with middleweight champ Robert Whittaker, rendering their UFC 225 affair in Chicago a non-title fight. UFC 223 saw Tony Ferguson suffer a freak knee injury and pull out of his bout with Nurmagomedov; after Holloway stepped in and then pulled out, the main event ended up being Nurmagomedov vs. Al Iaquinta. UFC 222 featured Holloway’s fight pullout against Edgar, in which Ortega ultimately took his place. And UFC 221 in Perth, Australia in February saw Whittaker pull out of a bout with Luke Rockhold due to illness, after which Romero stepped in, then missed weight and was ineligible to claim the interim middleweight belt after knocking Rockhold out.

Below is the full statement provided by Holloway’s management:

Max’s team and UFC staff noticed Max was not normal since late last week. This became obvious to many watching his interviews and public appearances the past few days.

He was showing concussion like symptoms before he even started his weight cut and was rushed to the ER on Monday where they admitted him over night. Initial scans seemed okay and he was released Tuesday afternoon but symptoms still continued.

Max fought with his team to continue with the fight. He showed some improvement over the next day but was still showing obvious symptoms. After open workouts he crashed and was very hard to wake up, when he did he had flashing vision and slurred speech.

Later Wednesday night, Ortega posted about the situation on social media.

Additional reporting by Marc Raimondi

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