As UFC 226 rapidly approaches, yet another huge fight has been dropped from a 2018 UFC event. Max Holloway has been scratched from UFC 226 after being hospitalized for a second time due to “concussion like symptoms.” Holloway was set to defend his featherweight belt against Brian Ortega.
The news came just hours after Holloway participated in the UFC 226 open workouts, which took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The decision was an anti-climatic result given the fact that neither fighter has lost in years (Ortega has not been beaten in the UFC).
Breaking: Max Holloway is out of UFC 226. Here is a statement from his management team, exclusive to ESPN. More coming shortly. pic.twitter.com/PO4Zm0DeBC
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) July 5, 2018
The news came quickly, and confused many fight fans around the world. After all, I had just watched Holloway perform in his open workout hours prior. During the workout, he looked pretty good, fluid, agile and mobile.
During a recent interview with Fox Sports, however, Michael Bisping noticed something off about Holloway:
UFC and fighting aside, this is obviously a serious situation with Holloway. He was admitted to a hospital on Monday evening, practiced during open workouts, then returned to the ER Wednesday.
Most importantly, nothing but the best in health, and a very speedy recovery for Max Holloway.
With Max Holloway scratched from UFC 226, the UFC reportedly contacted two potential contenders inquiring as to their ability to step in, but no fight materialized.
UFC called Jeremy Stephens last night with the Ortega interim title fight, per sources. He accepted right away. Once the fight didn’t come to fruition they called about Edgar interim title fight. He accepted that. In between both offers he began cutting to 145. Alas, no fight.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) July 5, 2018
What does this mean for UFC 226?
Ortega will not fight Saturday at T-Mobile Arena. Instead, the organization has scrapped the fight altogether. Rumors are swirling that the organization is eyeing the UFC 227 card in Los Angeles as a potential fight date between Holloway and Ortega.
Instead, UFC 226 will move forward featuring 11 fights. The new co-main event features top heavyweight contenders Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis. In addition, Paul Felder gets his long anticipated match-up against Mike Perry. Felder and Perry were originally scheduled to fight as part of the preliminary card, but instead will be bumped to the main card.
The 2018 Withdrawal Fallout
Thus far, it seems like no event so far this year has been without fight-card-casualty. Just recently at UFC 225 we saw Yoel Romero miss weight, costing him the chance at Robert Whittaker’s title. According to Fox Sports: UFC, a large number of fighters who missed weight in so far in 2018 have actually won their respective fights, and it’s raising some questions.
Fighters who missed weight are 6-0 in 2018, are they cheating the system? pic.twitter.com/2LlgZCoX94
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) May 18, 2018
If that weren’t enough, according to Mike Bohn, this withdrawal is the 17th main event or co-main event to change thus far during 2018. To take it a step further, International Fight Week has not been kind to its competitors. This is the third straight year a championship match has been lost during fight week, as well as the fourth consecutive year overall.
Max Holloway's withdrawal from #UFC226 marks the 17th co-main or main event change to the UFC calendar so far in 2018. It's also the 4th consecutive year International Fight Week has lost a championship bout (and third-straight during fight week).
— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) July 5, 2018
With Max Holloway scratched from UFC 226, it casts a relatively significant shadow on the event. Make no mistake, UFC 226 will go off without a hitch, but it would have been viewed in a much greater light if Holloway and Ortega were able to move forward with the featherweight championship match. At the same time, it would be nice to have one fight card go as scheduled during 2018.
Told by an official close to the situation that @BlessedMMA Max Holloway @BrianTcity Brian Ortega could be shifted to the main event at Staples Center for UFC 227 Aug. 4 depending on Holloway’s health.
— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) July 5, 2018
During the open workout, many in the crowd were talking about this “Super Fight” in particular. It provided a certain allure, if for no other reason than Holloway is on a twelve fight win streak and Ortega has never been defeated inside the octagon. For now, we’ll keep our eye on a possible match-up between the two for UFC 227.