I’m told the UFC’s first choice when Holloway was pulled, was an interim title fight between Ortega and Stephens. Ortega is declining that fight, opting to wait for Holloway. No timeframe for Holloway’s return right now, obviously, but no chance he’d fight at UFC 227 next month.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) July 5, 2018
UFC 226 is now available on Amazon Prime.
ESPN reports Ortega (14-0-1 NC) declined to fight Jeremy Stephens in a last-ditch effort to save the co-main event, opting to wait for Holloway once the champion is healthy enough to return.
“Blessed” was rushed to the hospital following an open workout on Wednesday after showing signs of a concussion. Holloway’s condition was noticeable enough that Michael Bisping actually said the Hawaiian looked “a little sleepy” during a recent episode of “UFC Tonight.”
Ortega insisted that the only way he would remain on Saturday’s card would be if the featherweight title was still on the line, and the UFC removed him from the card entirely after he turned down Stephens.
“Lil Heathen” has been calling out Ortega since January after defeating Doo Ho Choi by TKO, however “T-City” said that he would rather wait for a title shot. Ortega is sticking to his guns six months later, again passing on a fight with Stephens as Holloway tends to his medical issues.
Holloway has been forced out of his last three scheduled matchups for various disconcerting reasons; in the days leading into UFC 223, he offered to fill in for Tony Ferguson against Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight strap, only to be removed himself at the last minute due to weight cutting issues.
Before that, a leg injury forced “Blessed” out of UFC 222, where he was set to defend his featherweight title against former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
Edgar’s manager Ali Abdelaziz even offered up “The Answer’s” services to rematch either Ortega or Stephens, yet neither came into fruition.
Meanwhile, Stephens is still scheduled to take on former divisional kingpin Jose Aldo at UFC on Fox 30 on July 28.
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