Saturday night was supposed to be the date for Frankie Edgar’s long awaited title shot at 145-pounds against current champion Max Holloway. Instead, owing to an injury suffered by the Hawaiian during his preparation, Edgar must again derail the one of the division’s hottest prospects if he is to realize his goal of once again holding UFC gold.
Brian Ortega, drafted in to face Edgar in Holloway’s absence, has long been considered one of the featherweight division’s brightest prospects — a point which was underlined in his last performance against Cub Swanson when he submitted the veteran contender with a guillotine choke in the second round. A savvy submission grappler, ‘T-City’ is undefeated in his 14 fights as a pro, with seven of those wins coming by submission.
Edgar, though, is a different proposition to most. One of the sport’s most solid and dependable fighters, you know exactly what you are going to get when you face him. He is a sharp boxer, who employs excellent footwork and backs it all up with a grappling game which is both oppressive in its implementation and defensively stifling. Yair Rodriguez, another rising star at 145-pounds, had no answer for Edgar’s pressure game at UFC 211 and eventually succumbed to a medical stoppage after two rounds of getting almost no offence in against the New Jersey native.
In order for Ortega to win it is likely, it is likely that he will have to finish Edgar on Saturday night but he brings with him to the cage one of the best finishing rates in the featherweight division. Each of his last five bouts (and a sixth which was later overturned) have been finished by Ortega before the time limit but you feel it will have to be something special if his to repeat this feat against Edgar, a fighter who has get to be knocked out or submitted in his 28 professional fights.
Betsafe offer odds of 8/15 on Edgar and 29/20 on Ortega at time of writing.
This is one of the most interesting bouts that can currently be made at 145-pounds. Ortega certainly represents the future of the division but the question is whether Edgar still represents the present. We think he does and that he will stifle the dangerous Ortega throughout three rounds en route of a unanimous decision victory.