/Holloway outbrawls Ortega in fourth-round TKO

Holloway outbrawls Ortega in fourth-round TKO


TORONTO — Any lingering concerns about the well-being of UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway melted away on Saturday over the course of a brilliant, four-round title defense against Brian Ortega at UFC 231.

Holloway (20-3) defended his 145-pound throne for the second time, defeating Ortega via TKO at the end of the fourth round. A cageside doctor waved off the championship fight before the start of the fifth round due to obvious damage to Ortega’s face.

“I just gotta say, is there anyone else?” Holloway said. “We didn’t get it in the [fourth] round, we got it at the finish. Hey, he’s a tough opponent, a tough guy.”

It was a masterful performance by Holloway, who was forced to withdraw from two title fights earlier this year because of health concerns. The scariest incident occurred in July, when he was pulled because of “concussion-like symptoms.”

The bout played out almost entirely on the feet, and Ortega (15-1), of Los Angeles, had a handful of moments.

The closest he came to seizing momentum came early in the third, when he walked Holloway down with several hard right hands and nearly took his back in a scramble. The jiu-jitsu ace ended up sliding off Holloway’s back, however, and the opportunity was gone.

Other than that, it was mostly the Holloway show. He repeatedly slipped Ortega’s punches and peppered him with jabs and right hands. He bloodied the challenger’s nose in the second round and brought the Scotiabank Arena to its feet in the fourth with an onslaught of punches.

According to Fightmetric, Holloway outlanded Ortega 254-88 in total strikes. ESPN scored every round for Holloway.

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Ariel Helwani and Brett Okamoto recap the two title fights at UFC 231 with Max Holloway and Valentina Shevchenko winning.

Ortega was never knocked down and never appeared badly dazed, but the accumulation of punches showed on his face and in his reflexes. His hands started to drop, and he was a sitting duck for Holloway’s combinations.

UFC president Dana White has said he wants Holloway to ditch the weight cut to featherweight, which is strenuous for the Hawaiian, and move up to lightweight.

“I made the weight, I made it look easy,” Holloway said, referring to the weigh-in for Saturday’s fight. “I’ll tell you what, Dana White — I want to be the No. 1 pound-for-pound. If there’s a fight at 155, let’s do it. If it’s the baddest man, my good friend [UFC heavyweight champion] Daniel Cormier, bring it on. Let’s go.”

Holloway also said he wants to hang on to his current title.

“A king’s gotta defend his throne,” he said when asked if he plans to stay at featherweight. “If he leaves his throne, another king can come. Come see me. Blessed era, let’s go.”

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