Brian Ortega shouldn't be an underdog vs. Max Holloway at UFC 226

Those who have patiently anticipated Brian Ortega’s comeback will now have to wait a little longer. As his first scheduled fight since his brutal war against Max Holloway just under a year ago at UFC 231, the matchup against the Korean Zombie promised to close off 2019 with fireworks in South Korea, pitching two fan-favourites against one another for a potential number one contender spot in the featherweight division. However, it was reported yesterday that Ortega had pulled out of the fight due to an undisclosed injury – later revealed to be a partially torn ACL by Ortega himself:

Having teased various changes made to his camp and approach to MMA following the Holloway loss, the fight was posed to answer various questions regarding Ortega’s skills and ability to bounce back from his first defeat, in which he struggled to provide an answer for the champion’s striking prowess.

In an unusual set of circumstances, Frankie Edgar has been swiftly selected as Ortega’s replacement, despite already an upcoming fight against Cory Sandhagen next month at UFC Raleigh. Set to be his 135 pound debut, Edgar’s January fight is by all accounts still a go, which would put him up against the 3rd ranked bantamweight in the world a mere 35 days after his fight in South Korea – a prospect which seems neither realistic nor healthy.

To add to that, Zombie’s infamous durability and top-tier striking, which looked better than ever in his last outing, will most likely make the bout anything but an easy outing for Edgar – so the chances of his Raleigh fight still occurring seem slim to none. Sandhagen, seemingly wise to this, doesn’t too happy about Edgar’s decision to step in:

This won’t be the first time Edgar has trained to fight Zombie – the two were slated to clash just over a year ago at UFC Fight Night 139 in Denver, but Edgar was forced to pull out due to injury. Despite most likely needing to wait a little longer for his bantamweight debut, fans can at least be reassured that South Korea’s main event will still close the year off with a bang.

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