Last weekend’s co-main event at UFC 226 was supposed to feature a 145-pound championship bout between Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight champion Max Holloway and Brian Ortega. Holloway had to withdraw from the fight several days before the event with “concussion-like-symptoms” and Ortega was offered a replacement opponent, but declined and the co-main event was scrapped.
It was a similar situation with what former UFC featherweight champion Frankie Edgar went through at UFC 222 when Holloway pulled out of that fight. Edgar has the chance to wait for “Blessed” to recover but chose to stay active and accept the UFC’s proposal to fight the undefeated Brian Ortega. Even though Ortega took the fight at short notice, he ended up handing Edgar his first ever loss by finish (KO) and Edgar believes Ortega should have accepted the replacement fight.
“Everybody has their own reasons,” Edgar told TMZ Sports recently. “I took that fight because I wanted to fight, I wanted to get in there. He’s a young kid, maybe he thinks it’s too risky and he didn’t want to risk his chance but sometimes when you have a chance to fight for an interim title, you’ve got to jump on it because who knows? Now Brian’s pissed off UFC and company, maybe they might not give him that shot.
“I still think he deserves it. He worked towards it. I can see why he didn’t want to risk it but he’s got to realize what might come with that. When that title comes around you’ve got to jump at it because it can get taken from you even without you doing anything wrong.”
It was reported that UFC matchmakers presented Ortega with the heavy-hitting Jeremy Stephens which Ortega declined. The 27 year-old told reporters his preference was to wait for Holloway to heal up, although the Hawaiian and his management have not provided a timetable for his return and the situation has brought to light former UFC fighter T.J. Grant, who never fought again after losing out on a lightweight title shot in similar circumstances.
Speaking from experience, Edgar said he would be taking the opportunity now rather than wait it out.
“For me, I’m not gonna wait around and wait for a title shot or anything,” Edgar said. “I’m gonna let my shoulder heal up properly and get back training and see what happens. If there’s an opportunity, for sure I’m gonna jump on it. If not, I know The Garden is coming back in November [UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden on November 3] so that might make sense for me.”