UFC 231 was a difficult card to rate in a lot of ways; the UFC’s 12th pay-per-view of 2018 was bookended by two of the year’s absolute best fights, but other than that, the show was largely forgettable. In a way, it was like being served a completely bland turkey sandwich which happened to be made with the greatest bread possible, if that makes sense.
It wasn’t that any of the fights were outright bad – that wasn’t the case at all. They just simply didn’t provide us with a lot of memorable moments or much intrigue going forward. With that said, I don’t think anyone who saw the card could complain about the main event.
Here are the best and worst moments from UFC 231: Holloway vs. Ortega
#1 Best: The main event was incredible
Going into Saturday’s main event between Max Holloway and Brian Ortega with Holloway’s Featherweight title on the line, I was expecting a great fight based on the past history of both men. To be quite honest though, I didn’t expect something quite as good as what we got – which was easily the best title fight of 2018, better than both McGregor/Nurmagomedov and Whittaker/Romero.
Holloway – apparently not affected at all by the ‘concussion-like symptoms’ that ruled him out of UFC 226 – came to throw down and Ortega was more than happy to oblige. For the first two rounds the fight was all ‘Blessed’. The Hawaiian found his range and hit Ortega with some massive combinations while taking few shots himself. ‘T-City’ couldn’t get Holloway down, and for all intents and purposes, looked like he was struggling.
But clearly, he can take a shot. Despite being badly busted up, he came roaring back in the third – outlanding Holloway and hurting the champ on numerous occasions, even taking him down at one stage. He couldn’t get the finish though, and somehow, all of his offense seemed to do was awaken the real animal inside the Hawaiian.
Holloway told his corner – and Joe Rogan – that he’d finish Ortega in the 4th, and sure enough, that’s what he did. The champion landed a ludicrous 134 strikes in that round – 290 overall! – and Ortega simply had no answer. ‘T-City’ showed tremendous heart to survive, but it was clear that he was done and the doctor made the correct decision after the round to stop the fight.
It was the best Featherweight title fight since Jose Aldo’s war with Chad Mendes in October 2014 and it might just have been better than that. Holloway is still the man at 145lbs, Ortega was a great challenger who will surely be back, and this was a downright classic.