In a sport where many fighters are still clumsy with a two-meter gap between them and their opponent, then waving their hands as they try to run in the opposite direction, Max Holloway's comfort in the trading area can be considered a superpower. It took a minute for Holloway to work with Brian Ortega and start taking the pieces off his opponent. Round was a beating and Holloway simply did the same thing, with more intensity, every round after that.
Of course the only thing everyone knew when they entered this fight was that Brian Ortega is an opportunist and not a perfectionist. In fact, Ortega had not won a convincing round in years before battling Cub Swanson. Ortega takes shots, lands a little of his own, and then finds the finish seemingly out of nowhere. This fight would always be the man who can find the end at any moment, against the man who only grows stronger as the fight advances.
The disparity in striking ability was obvious before the fight: Ortega is standing as an attacker and Holloway has already become one of the UFC's top contenders. The things that Ortega was doing – trying to stay behind the front shoulder and time on big counters – worked against the smaller attackers, but Holloway was not having any of that.
From the beginning, Holloway's jab questioned Ortega and squeezed his intentions for him. If Holloway would attack and Ortega would retreat, a second strike would cover Holloway's second pass, and his right hand would fly toward Ortega's head or body at the end. Whenever Ortega remained, the second step never came, but the right hand came early. And when Ortega went to his shoulder – we argued not to work against Renato Moicano – Holloway sank him deeply and then broke him with his right hand in the same way.
Ones and two were the diet that Holloway fed Ortega for most of his five hundred attack strokes in this fight, but there was a lot of variety there as well. Holloway is one of the best in MMA history to get to the opponent's body. Where Takanori Gomi and Fedor Emelianenko pioneered the MMA punch, nor set them the kind of scientific boxing that Holloway uses to infiltrate. In addition to right and wide straight right for the body, Holloway often launches a left-handed body. shooting the jab, requiring some serious dexterity and an indicator of your opponent's reactions.
A beautiful sequence of the fight in which Ortega turns offline in an exaggerated shoulder roll (Tables 1 and 2), exposing his ribs and kidneys on the right side. Holloway fakes a punch (frame 3) before falling into a body shot with his left hand (5). Ortega came back with a hook that fell little. ( Gif )
Jab, jab, right hand was the majority of Holloway's fight, but there were so many small shifts, angles and feints that we have no chance to cover them all here. One wonderful thing about Holloway is that their game is built around pushing a pace, but not at the expense of their own defense. The featherweight champion has a great sense of when to push his advantages to the fullest, and when to take a step back and look to counteract. And being a well-trained boxer, Holloway rarely takes two steps back; instead, it's a short retreat and a forty-five-degree angle looking for the right-hand counter.
Now, for the most part, Ortega was being punished for his unpolished attack. He would lean too far or fall too low when he showed the first or the second punch and then the right hand would break him while he was out of position. But Ortega has shown that although he does not have the polish, he certainly has an idea for the amazing game by putting a couple of traps on Holloway. In the first round, realizing that Holloway would follow with the double jab if he gave in, Ortega switched from left-handed to an Orthodox and broke Holloway with an elbow similar to the one that shook Frankie Edgar.
Similarly, Ortega used his shoulder test to try to pull Holloway to an elbow up. This elbow bout was famous for Anderson Silva, who used it to knock out Tony Fryklund. Silva did this to Fryklund in the lead, out of a hand trap, but at the end of his career, Silva made the perception that the technique worked even better off the shoulder, where low hand lead and opponent is likely to be going on strike already. Ortega did not really pick up Holloway with this elbow, but Holloway had to step on the brake to avoid running over it.
Ortega's most successful elbow came when he took the offensive to the defense. Holloway was cautious when he led, but he managed to score. After entering a one-two, Ortega went into one of his deep, sloppy slips to escape an accountant, and just as Max thought he had the perfect chance, Ortega spun on an elbow that cracked Holloway's head.
Ortega's attempts to fall were decent, as he had completed only one in his UFC career, but Holloway was keen on defense. Holloway was always feeding Ortega with his leg attached and cleaning or jumping to the fence and dragging Ortega into a clinch. Ortega made some good attempts to arrest Holloway and get an arm wrench in the front, but by the time Holloway was unbalanced, he arched his back and stood tall as if his life depended on it. In the fourth round, Ortega took a beating that he pursued the fall as a matter of urgency. An attempt saw Holloway turn him and step on the hill, but even as worn and tired as Ortega, in that brief moment on the ground Ortega's ability passed. His hands went straight into Holloway's armpits, pushing him up, and his feet replaced them to extend into a jumping hook attempt.
The fight was canceled by the doctor before the fifth round could start. This was merciful, since Ortega had absorbed more than three hundred attacks in the previous four rounds and was a swollen, bloody mess. But there is no question of the heart of Brian Ortega, who was well prepared to go out and make another hundred blows just to look for that perfect elbow or knock him down.
Ortega's attack looked amateurish against Holloway, but Ortega still has a lot of time to improve. His attack happened in leaps and bounds through his short stay in the UFC, since being able to absorb the best moves of Holloway by four rounds will probably give him more confidence to try and feel comfortable under fire. If he can use that confidence to reinforce defensive holes and strengthen his form, he can cause problems for even the best strikers in the division. And do not forget that jiu jitsu is what Ortega is known for, despite his almost complete lack of falls. There is so much lack in Ortega's game and he has still I got here. With attention in the right areas, there is certainly much more to look forward to in your future.
For Holloway, the next step is unclear. He just defended his feather crown twice, but has already fought most of the major featherweights on his way up. If Frankie Edgar manages to throw the title once again, there will always be an audience for Holloway Vs. Edgar. There are rumors of Holloway going for lightweight, and Dana White expressed her desire to see Holloway there. Max was out of a title fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov a few months ago, but more than that, there is the prospect of a rematch with Conor McGregor, who would certainly bring great interest and provide Holloway a huge payout. Anyway, it's great to have Holloway back in action and look so incredibly sharp after the troubling symptoms that took him out of the fight originally scheduled for Ortega in July. Holloway is one of the best who has ever played this game and every time he steps in the cage it's a joy to sit and watch.
This article originally appeared in VICE Sports US.