It appears Max Holloway will get his desired date and location for his next UFC featherweight title defense.
A matchup between Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) and top contender Brian Ortega (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) is in the works for UFC 226, MMAjunkie learned from two people with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the UFC has yet to make anything public.
UFC 226 takes place July 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Holloway vs. Ortega is expected to co-headline the pay-per-view main card following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
For Holloway, 26, the matchup hopefully will mark a return to normalcy in his career. The Hawaiian’s chaotic year began with him forced to withdraw from a fight for the first time in his career against Frankie Edgar at UFC 222 in March. Holloway suffered an ankle injury and was targeting a July return, but then a replacement opportunity popped up at UFC 223 earlier this month.
After Tony Ferguson withdrew from the UFC 223 headliner with less than a week out, Holloway accepted a lightweight title bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov. He cut a significant amount of weight in the short time period in his attempts to make 155 pounds and become a dual UFC champion, but Holloway was pulled from the card on weigh-in day after being deemed “medically unfit” to continue cutting weight.
Now Holloway, No. 1 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA featherweight rankings, will return to his weight class and go for his second title defense after getting his first with a third-round TKO of Jose Aldo in their rematch at UFC 218 in December.
No. 2-ranked Ortega, 27, will get a crack at UFC gold after Holloway opened the door for him. When “Blessed” pulled out of UFC 222, Ortega stepped in as an injury replacement to fight Edgar. He stunned the former UFC champ with a first-round knockout to solidify his title shot.
“T-City” is unbeaten over the course of his career and has finished every opponent he’s encountered inside the octagon. That list includes the likes of Edgar, Cub Swanson, Renato Moicano, and Clay Guida.
Ortega will try to add Holloway’s name to the list while simultaneously claiming his first UFC belt.
The latest UFC 226 card includes: