Fighter's Planet weekend recap
Max Holloway silences critics with dominating performance and hands Brian Ortega his first loss in the main event of UFC 231.
UFC 231: Holloway vs. Ortega
When Max Holloway (20-3) stepped on the scale at Friday’s weigh-ins, he pointed a gesture of silence towards media members, many who questioned if the featherweight champ would even be able to compete this weekend in the main event of UFC 231.
Holloway made weight and the gesture was seen as a sign to stop the chatter, and most, including myself, figured it was in reference to the previous situations that blocked Holloway from competing on several recent cards.
The buzz was not without merit as Holloway had three fights consecutively cancelled since defending his title against Jose Aldo at UFC 218 last December.
In Holloway’s defense, only one of those fights was due to weight issues, when he was unable to continue cutting weight as he attempted to step in to face lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov in April for the lightweight championship, which had been stripped from Conor McGregor, but Holloway took the fight on a week’s notice, so you can give him a pass on that one.
The more dire situation occurred when Holloway was forced out of the previously scheduled fight with Ortega only days before because of concussion like symptoms, an issue that Holloway has acknowledged still hasn’t been clarified, which is why the questions surrounding this fight were warranted.
But Holloway was not done with his statement at those weigh-ins. Far from it.
Holloway, who was riding a 12-fight winning streak, suffering his last loss in 2013 to McGregor, and came into the fight as a slight underdog to Ortega (14-1), another slight to the reigning champion.
Holloway preceded to thoroughly out strike the jiu-jitsu specialist with precision combinations and movement that befuddled Ortega, who was unable to mount much of a counter attack.
Ortega, to his credit, showed the heart of a lion and never stopped fighting, but was just outclassed by the striking clinic put on by Holloway, forcing a doctor’s stoppage at the end of the fourth round, a stoppage neither side disagreed with.
Besides the obvious satisfaction of silencing the whispers of his health deterioration, this type of victory sets up Holloway for some massive paydays, especially if he heeds the advice of UFC president Dana White, who has been vocal in his desire to see Holloway move up to lightweight where “superfights” await him against the likes of McGregor, Tony Ferguson, and Nurmagomedov, amongst others.
Nurmagomedov and McGregor must first solve their issues with the Nevada commission which has just recently granted a delay in both of their hearings, so it’s unknown when those two will be back in the Octagon, but it’s easy to see Holloway move up for any of those fights, without even needing to relinquish the featherweight title at the moment.
Valentina Shevchenko finally claimed a UFC championship that has eluded her up to this point. Shevchenko (16-3) controlled former strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-3) in virtually every aspect of the fight in the co-main event. She won all 3 rounds to claim the decision and no one would be surprised to see a long lasting title reign for Shevchenko, who seems to be a level above any competition in her division.
Lomachenko vs. Pedraza:
Boxing sensation Vasyl Lomachenko continues to eclipse his opposition with another title victory, this time unifying two lightweight titles with a unanimous decision victory over Jose Pedraza at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on a Top Rank card shown live on ESPN.
Lomachenko (12-1. 9 KOs) controlled the bout from bell to bell and scored two knockdowns in the 11th round to secure the inevitable win.
Lomachenko has been adamant about facing another lightweight champion in Mikey Garcia to further unify the lightweight titles, but Garcia is already scheduled to move up in weight to challenge welterweight champion, Errol Spence, next year so Lomachenko will have to ponder his options for 2019.
Braekhus vs. Magdziak-Lopes:
Undisputed welterweight champion Cecilia Braekhus of Norway successfully defended her titles with a decision win over Magdziak-Lopes at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, California.
Braekhus (35-0, 9 knockouts) breezed through the bout, which made history, as this was the final telecast for HBO boxing after many years of the network showcasing some, if not, thee biggest fights in the sports history.
Combate Americas: Copy Combate 2
Andres Quintana scored an electrifying knockout over Mexican representative, Alejandro Flores, in the very first round to pick up a $100,000 purse and a nice little trophy to add to his mantle.
Quintana, who was representing the United States in the tournament, defeated Marlon Gonzales via unanimous decision in the quarterfinals, then proceeded to defeat Bruno Cannetti via TKO in the first round, to reach the finals against Flores.
The win over Cannetti was the most controversial of the night with most in attendance, especially Cannetti’s corner, felt the stoppage was premature.
Cannetti, who was representing Argentina, immediately protested, but Quintana nonetheless moved on to the finals.