UFC 231: Holloway vs. Ortega Odds, Tickets, Predictions and Pre-Weigh-in Hype

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2018

TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 05:  (L-R) Opponents Max Holloway and Brian Ortega face off during the UFC 231 Press Conference at the Winter Garden Theatre on December 5, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

Let's try this one again. For the fourth time in 2018, UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway is scheduled to step into the Octagon. 

For the second time, Blessed will be looking to take on Brian Ortega in defense of his championship belt. The Hawaiian has had three fights canceled due to health issues and weight cut problems this year, but the two are scheduled to headline UFC 231 in Toronto. 

Ortega and Holloway aren't the only ones fighting for a belt, though. Valentina Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk will spill their Muay Thai rivalry into the world of MMA for the women's flyweight title. 

The rest of the card is filled out by a combination of veterans and up-and-comers, with a few fights that could forge a path to title contention. 

Here's a look at the rest of the card and the latest pre-weigh-in hype surrounding the biggest fights. 

       

Ticket Info: StubHub

All odds via OddsShark

Main Card (PPV at 10 p.m. ET)

  • 145 lbs.: UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway (-125, bet $125 to win $100) vs. Brian Ortega (+100, bet $100 to win $100)
  • 125 lbs.: Valentina Shevchenko (-350) vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (+240) for vacant flyweight title
  • 170 lbs.: Gunnar Nelson (-150) vs. Charles Oliveira (+110)
  • 145 lbs.: Kyle Bochniak (+150) vs. Hakeem Dawodu (-200)
  • 205 lbs.: Jimi Manuwa (+140) vs. Thiago Santos (-188)

Fox Sports 1 Prelims (8 p.m. ET)

  • 115 lbs.: Nina Ansaroff (+225) vs. Claudia Gadelha (-333)
  • 155 lbs.: Olivier Aubin-Mercier (-150) vs. Gilbert Burns (+110)
  • 115 lbs.: Katlyn Chookagian (-175) vs. Jessica Eye (+140)
  • 185 lbs.: Eryk Anders (-105) vs. Elias Theodorou (-125)

Fight Pass Prelims (6 p.m. ET)

  • 135 lbs.: Brad Katona (-250) vs. Matthew Lopez (+175)
  • 170 lbs.: Chad Laprise (+240) vs. Dhiego Lima (-350)
  • 205 lbs.: Devin Clark (+350) vs. Aleksandar Rakic (-549)

      

Max Holloway Not Intimidated by Brian Ortega's Accomplishments

TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 05:  UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway interacts with fans and media during the UFC 231 Press Conference at the Winter Garden Theatre on December 5, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa L
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

The odds are nearly even on the evening's featherweight championship bout, and why wouldn't they be?

Holloway is an impressive fighter in his own right, but coming off a year-long layoff and some questionable health situations, Ortega is a hot pick to take the crown from him. 

That's because T-City is 6-0 with a no-contest in his UFC career. Coming off a win against former champion Frankie Edgar in March, he has the resume of a bonafide threat to the title. 

Holloway is having none of that talk, though. 

"He's on, what, a six-fight win streak? I've got 12," the champion said, per Steven Marrocco and Mike Bohn of MMAJunkie. "He beat a champion? I beat two, and I beat one of them twice. At the end of the day, the ‘Blessed' express is going around in a circle. We lapping you, bro. And I'm younger than you, so congratulations."

This is truly one of those fights where it feels like the two best fighters in a weight class are going at it. Since the departure of Conor McGregor and the hiatus of Holloway, the featherweight division has lost its flair. 

This is a fight that should bring that back. While Holloway has had the more impressive career, Ortega's recent form and Holloway's questions going into the fight makes this a prime spot for a small upset in what is likely not to be the last time these two face off. 

Prediction: Ortega via third-round submission

      

Joanna Jedrzejczyk Not Bothered by Past with Valentina Shevchenko

TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 05:  (L-R) Opponents Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan and Joanna Jedrzejczyk of Poland face off during the UFC 231 Press Conference at the Winter Garden Theatre on December 5, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Josh H
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

It's been well-documented at this point that former UFC champion Jedrzejczyk has a past with Shevchenko. 

Both fighters got their start in the sport of Muay Thai, where Shevchenko defeated the Polish fighter multiple times. it's a point that's been used to argue that Shevchenko will hold the upper hand when the two meet in the cage on Saturday night, but Joanna Violence believes those losses are far too deep in the past to affect her now. 

"The first fight, she won the first fight it was in like 2006," Jedrzejczyk told Damon Martin of MMA Weekly. "I was training only two years at that time and I went to the World Championships in Thailand and I thought that I was going to rule the world and win. It was a big lesson for me and I was back the next year and two years after. Our last two fights were pretty close."

Jedrzejczyk also feels that the losses have not had a lasting effect on her when it comes to the confidence she'll have at UFC 231. 

"She has been training since she was a little girl, I know this time it's going to be different. This time, I'm a different animal, different athlete, different person, very strong physically, mentally, fighting in the best organization in the world, and I'm ready, I will get this belt home. I can see how I'm improving with every camp in a new weight, in a new division," she said, per Brandon Wise of CBS Sports. 

Jedrzejczyk is talking the obvious game, but it's hard to buy what she's selling. The reasons for picking Shevchenko in this spot go beyond Muay Thai fights that took place a decade ago. Shevchenko is coming from a bigger division, having fought at 135 pounds and beating everyone she's fought not named Amanda Nunes. 

Jedrzejczyk's losses to Rose Namajunas have exposed her game to an extent against counter-punchers who are willing to stand at range with her and return fire. Shevchenko will have no problem doing that and will disrupt her rhythm in doing so. 

Prediction: Shevchenko via decision

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