UFC 231: Holloway vs. Ortega Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions and More

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2018

TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 07:  (L-R) Opponents Max Holloway and Brian Ortega face-off during the UFC 231 weigh-in at Scotiabank Arena on December 7, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

The featherweight division is finally getting its marquee fight. UFC 231 is set to be headlined by reigning champion Max Holloway as he looks to defend against undefeated Brian Ortega. 

It's one of the division's first real big fights since the official departure of Conor McGregor from the division, and it doesn't get much better.

Holloway's current 12-fight win streak features multiple former champions. He hasn't lost since a 2013 defeat to The Notorious and will look to continue that streak against Ortega. 

T-City doesn't have nearly the resume of Holloway, but he's excelled at every opportunity. He's finished every fight he's ever had in the UFC Octagon, including his first-round knockout against former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar his last time out. 

It's a compelling main event between two of the division's best fighters to top off a card that will have already passed out some UFC gold. 

Valentina Shevchenko and Joanna Jedrzejczyk will square off for the vacant UFC women's flyweight championship. The former strawweight champion and former bantamweight title contender have a history outside of the cage and will look to add a championship chapter to their combat rivalry. 

Here's a look at the latest card and all the information you need to make sure you don't miss anything. 

     

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

  • 145 lbs.: UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega 
  • 125 lbs.: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk for vacant flyweight title
  • 170 lbs.: Gunnar Nelson vs. Charles Oliveira 
  • 145 lbs.: Kyle Bochniak vs. Hakeem Dawodu 
  • 205 lbs.: Jimi Manuwa vs. Thiago Santos

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

  • 115 lbs.: Nina Ansaroff vs. Claudia Gadelha
  • 155 lbs.: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns
  • 115 lbs.: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jessica Eye
  • 185 lbs.: Eryk Anders vs. Elias Theodorou 

Fight Pass Prelims (6 p.m. ET)

  • 135 lbs.: Brad Katona vs. Matthew Lopez
  • 170 lbs.: Chad Laprise vs. Dhiego Lima
  • 155 lbs.: Carlos Diego Ferreira vs. Kyle Nelson
  • 205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Aleksandar Rakic

     

Predictions

Ortega Usurps Holloway for Featherweight Title

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 03:  Frankie Edgar (R) and Brian Ortega fight during their featherweight bout during UFC 222 at T-Mobile Arena on March 3, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ortega won by TKO.  (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)
Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

Brian Ortega has had to wait nearly a year for his chance at Max Holloway and his featherweight strap. T-City has been on the shelf since his win over Frankie Edgar back in March, and he'll have his opportunity to shine here. 

In McGregor's absence, Holloway has stepped in as the unstoppable force in the featherweight division. In each of his last three bouts he has piled up damage on opponents before finishing them in the third round. 

The high-volume approach that Holloway takes also means being on the receiving end of some damage. He absorbs 3.9 significant strikes per minute, according to FightMetric. It hasn't mattered in the past because he's trading his more damaging shots for less damaging ones and coming out on top in the end. 

But is he healthy enough to continue that strategy?

Holloway has been pulled out of fights multiple times this year due to difficult weight cuts, concussion-like symptoms and depression. 

It's enough to raise doubts about his fitness heading into Saturday's fight. Ortega is the kind of fighter that would challenge a completely healthy Holloway. 

One that could potentially have some ring rust or lingering issues shouldn't be favored. 

Prediction: Ortega via third-round submission

      

Shevchenko Outpoints Jedrzejczyk to Win Flyweight Title

DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:   Valentina Shevchenko of Kyrgyzstan works out for fans and media during the UFC 228 open workouts on September 5, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

If there's one thing that we've learned about former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk over her last few fights, it's that she doesn't have much of a backup plan if her forward pressure doesn't back opponents up. 

Joanna Violence became a champion with her speed and power coming forward, but opponents who have fired back at her have found success. Rose Namajunas exploited this first in her first-round knockout of the champion to win the belt in 2017. 

She confirmed it further with a decision win in her defense of the belt five months later. 

If Namajunas was able to outstrike Jedrzejczyk by refusing to be backed down by her forward assaults, Shevchenko won't either. 

The former bantamweight title challenger has already defeated Jedrzejczyk in professional Muay Thai matches and possesses the wherewithal to hang in the pocket and match her opponent's fire with fire. 

That's not good news for Jedrzejczyk who is leaving her home division in hopes of winning a second belt in the newly formed weight class. 

Prediction: Shevchenko via unanimous decision

     

Gunnar Nelson Locks in a Submission in Return to Octagon

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 15:  Gunnar Nelson of Iceland poses on the scale during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at the SSE Hydro Arena Glasgow on July 15, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

There aren't many fights that would qualify as "high profile" outside of the two main offerings on this card. The return of Gunnar Nelson is a development worth watching in the welterweight division, though. 

The oft-injured Icelander hasn't fought consistently to warrant title fight consideration, but when he's in the cage, he's showcased excellent grappling skills. He has 12 submission victories to his name and six of seven UFC wins coming by way of tapout. 

That could present an issue for Alex Oliveira. The Brazilian has some submission wins in his own right, but three of his five career losses have come by either choke or armbar.

The intrigue lies in what kind of shape Gunni is in at this point. He's 30, but he hasn't fought all year as he was forced out of his last fight with a knee injury. He's bounced back from injuries before, but at some point, it has to catch up. 

That could happen on Saturday night, but if it comes down to grappling ability, the advantage is still with Nelson. 

Prediction: Nelson via second-round submission

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