Now that Max Holloway’s immediate future appears set at featherweight after coming up short in his bid to claim the interim UFC lightweight title last month, Brian Ortega sees a direct path back to the man responsible for the only professional defeat of his career.
Holloway trounced Ortega in December, winning via doctor stoppage at the end of the fourth round after a sustained assault through 20 minutes of action, and afterwards moved up a weight class for his unsuccessful challenge to raise a second world title in the Octagon — and it appears that Ortega wants a do-over, now that he’s medically cleared to compete once again.
“Saturday was my official time when everything got cleared,” Ortega said to TMZ via MMA Mania. “My nose is cleared, my hand is cleared, everything. Now it’s time to get out there and put my hand to the test and really get to work now. I’m looking at something maybe in summer. I’m ready to go back out there and fight whoever I have to fight, prove myself again, show the world that (UFC 231) just wasn’t my night and we can make it happen again.”
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Prior to his defeat to Holloway, Ortega had been in sensational form at 145-pounds. He has earned six straight wins at 145-pounds (seven if you count the win against Mike De La Torre which was commuted to a no-contest following a failed test for marijuana), including successive finishes against Frankie Edgar, Cub Swanson and Renato Moicano.
A potential path back to Holloway would be realistic for Ortega with another couple of high profile featherweight wins. He remains the second ranked 145-pound fighter in the world, behind top contender Jose Aldo and champion Holloway. Edgar, Alexander Volkanovski and Moicano make up the rest of the top five.