Max Holloway and Brian Ortega are at the top of their game right now, making their featherweight title bout at UFC 231 a mixed martial arts fan’s delight.
Over the course of a 12-fight winning streak that saw him earn a pair of convincing victories over longtime featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo, Holloway established himself as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. Ortega, meanwhile, is unbeaten in 14 professional bouts, a run that includes six straight wins in the UFC. Holloway is impressed by Ortega but believes he has a more impressive overall resume.
“He’s good,” Holloway said at a press conference on Wednesday. “He’s a dangerous man. But everybody keeps talking about Brian and this and that. Everything the guy did, I did better.
“He’s on, what, a six-fight win streak? I’ve got 12. He beat a champion? I beat two, and I beat one of them twice. At the end of the day, the ‘Blessed’ express is going around in a circle. We lapping you, bro. And I’m younger than you, so congratulations.”
In addition to his two victories over Aldo, Holloway owns notable victories over the likes of Anthony Pettis, Ricardo Lamas, Jeremy Stephens, Charles Oliveira and Cub Swanson, among others. Ortega can envision a future in which he and Holloway square off multiple times, regardless of Saturday’s result in Toronto.
“He ain’t going nowhere, and neither am I,” Ortega said. “And there’s no more room at the top. No matter what happens, I don’t see him spiraling down, and neither do myself. Whatever happens, fall down, get back up, and challenge each other again. So, this is the beginning.”
Holloway agreed, while adding that future matchups could occur at weight classes above 145 pounds. “Blessed” has struggled with his weight in the past and it could become even more difficult as he ages.
“Me and him are [around] the same age,” Holloway agreed. “We’ll probably run into each other in a couple different weight classes. Who knows? If he wants to. Our backgrounds, Hawaiian and Mexican, we love food, so you might even see us be fighting for the ‘Daddest Man on the Planet’ one time, so who knows.”
While there was some friendly banter between the two featherweights on Wednesday, there wasn’t much true animosity. Ortega admitted that he has been concerned about his opponent’s well-being, especially after Holloway pulled out of their scheduled bout at UFC 226 due to concussion-like symptoms.
“At the end of the day, I really do care about your health and how you are and how you’re doing,” Ortega said. “I know you’ve got a son. S--t aside, I know we’re fighting and all that, but I do hope he’s all right. To me, it ain’t cool if you step in there and you’re not physically all right, or something is going on. For me, I wouldn’t want me to step in there, I wouldn’t want him to step in there, especially you’ve got a family. I’ve got my family.”
“I did worry about him,” Ortega continued. “I pray for you, I swear to god. We’re going to give you guys the show you guys deserve, and nothing’s going to happen.”