Max “Blessed” Holloway is back in action looking to defend his featherweight championship against Brian “T-City” Ortega when the two enter the Octagon at UFC 231 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The current champion, Holloway, is a -105 underdog with the challenger, Ortega, coming back at -125 This is the first fight in a year for Holloway, while it’s just the second one this year for Ortega.
Holloway and Ortega were supposed to do battle at UFC 226 but the champion was removed from the card after he displayed concussion-like symptoms during fight week. Heading into that previous bout, Blessed was a -150 favorite with T-City coming back at +120. This will be a full year layoff for Holloway as twice he was looking to fight but had to be pulled with health issues. He has never had a layoff that long in his career.
Similarly, Ortega has only fought once in the last year, a first-round knockout over Frankie Edgar at UFC 222, earning his shot at the champ. I think Holloway should be a little more of a favorite closer to the event but I wouldn’t expect anything more than -170.
Breaking down Holloway vs Ortega
Holloway (-105) has rattled off 12 straight victories since losing a unanimous decision against Conor McGregor in 2013, winning seven of those fights via T/KO. Blessed’s last two fights came against longtime featherweight champion Jose Aldo, and the Hawaii native put on two terrific performances.
He outstruck the Brazil native 309-145 over the two fights that both resulted in third-round knockout victories for Holloway. The 27-year-old has a tremendous output, landing 6.2 significant strikes per minute while only absorbing 3.9 significant strikes per minute. Additionally, Holloway defends 83 percent of takedown attempts and hasn’t been taken to the mat since 2014.
Ortega (-125) has taken the featherweight division by storm, picking up six wins in a row with no bout going to decision, winning three by T/KO and three via submission. Most notably, T-City knocked out Frankie Edgar with a well-placed elbow at UFC 222 in March of this year, the first knockout loss in Edgar’s storied career.
The 27-year-old has a terrific ability to dig deep and pull off surprising finishes, as he has been outstruck in every fight since joining the UFC in 2014, but has never lost. Ortega lands 3.65 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 5.27 significant strikes per minute, but has fantastic strength and heart that allows him to secure a finish to win his bouts.
I’m not sure if Ortega needs to get hit a few times to feel the power and get into fights but it always seems like he is losing a fight before locking in a late submission or landing a well-placed strike that ends with his hand being raised. This will be an ill-advised strategy against a fantastic striker in Holloway.
Blessed begged Jose Aldo to stand and trade with him which resulted in back-to-back knockout victories for Holloway. Additionally, he has outstruck his opponents in each of his last 12 fights, all of which he won. The Hawaii native has the heart of the champion and is going to keep this fight on the feet looking to battle with the California native in what could be a fight of the year candidate.
Odds as of December 7 at [custom:bovada-link]
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Odds Shark Staff Mon, Jun 27, 11:10am