After a dominant victory on Saturday night against former champ Jose Aldo, the prospects for next in line for Max Holloway's throne are very thin. The problem with Max as champion is that he clearly cleaned out the division en route to the title. The prospects that were suppose to be ready for title shots by now, have dropped recent fights and as it stands, only two men currently could stake a claim to challenge for the coveted title.
On his way to the top, Holloway disposed of eleven fighters in a row including three of the top five and five of the top ten. For the king of the 145er's, the road to the belt was a long one. Now on top of the mountain, the first challenger for the belt should have been Frankie Edgar.
Unfortunately, during training camp, Edgar suffered a broken orbital bone and was forced to withdraw from the UFC 218 main event. Instead the former champion, Jose Aldo stepped up and lost in the same fashion he did the first time. Jose was tko'd in the third round and Max kept his grasp on the 145 pound crown.
Since losing to Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor four years ago, Holloway has been perfect inside the octagon with twelve wins in a row.”Blessed” has finished nine of those twelve wins inside the distance. Although he has looked unbeatable as of late, every king needs a rival.
Now on the mend, will Frankie be able to recover and challenge Max next? Unfortunately the orbital bone is a complicated one and could take a long time to heal. If surgery is needed, it will take even longer. Although he is the former Lightweight Champion, in the past Frankie has dropped two title shots at The Featherweight crown, both to Jose Aldo.
So, where do we go from here? Who else could fight Max for the title? In my opinion, if Brian Ortega can get by the always dangerous Cub Swanson this Saturday night, we will have a legit challenger for the gold.
Ortega is 12 and 0 and has won four fights in a row in The UFC, all by stoppage victories. The refreshing part of an Ortega vs Holloway scrap would be that these are the two youngest guys in the top 10 of the division. Both fighters are 26, Holloway is 3 inches taller and the reach is identical.
The Gracie Black Belt is a former two time RFA Featherweight champion. He has also had Fight Of The Night honors twice, since joining The UFC in 2014. Although T-City is a submission ace, he has two knock out victories inside the octagon to go along with his two submission victories.
In a weight class filled with aging stars, I am hoping that we will see a new contender emerge this weekend. Ortega is the guy that could breath new life into a stale weight class and could also be the adversary that Max Holloway needs during his title reign.
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