Even though it’s been over eight months since, Max Holloway’s win over Brian Ortega at UFC 231 is one of the more memorable and vivid fights in recent history.
Ortega was undefeated going into the featherweight title bout and many were picking him to be the one to dethrone Holloway. In the end, it was anything but as “Blessed” put on a striking masterclass on the California native. It later became hard to watch as Ortega continued to take brutal punishment as each round went by.
The fight was eventually stopped at the end of the fourth round due to a doctor stoppage. Holloway was still the featherweight champion and notably broke a record for most significant strikes landed (290) while doing so.
Ortega is yet to fight since but reflecting on that night in Toronto, spoke of how he doesn’t take it as a badge of honor that he wasn’t the one to call for the fight to end.
“No man, everyone was bummed,” Ortega told TSN recently. “My family, my mom especially. To see that? Broke her heart. Everyone was heartbroken. When you have someone that you care about and love, and you see them go in there. And especially I watched the fight — yeah, I’m not giving up, I’m not quitting, I’m going for it, I’m taking however many shots and still walking forward, trying to give them back and not retreating, no running. It’s hard to watch.
“For me, it was like ‘damn.’ I was like ‘oh, shit, you got hit.’ It was this dark energy, I don’t know how to say it, that just weighed on everyone. But then after a while, everyone just told me how proud they were of me.”
Rather than a badge of honor, Ortega takes that experience as a badge of knowledge as he now knows what he is capable of.
“I wear it not as a badge of honor, but a badge of knowledge, I guess,” he added. “I know what I can go through. I know what I’m willing to do when I’m in there.”
Ortega required multiple surgeries to fix up all his injuries following the Holloway fight. “T-City” has been cleared since July now, but claims to be working on fixing holes in his game before returning to the Octagon.
Who do you want to see him face next?