UFC 231: Holloway vs. Ortega staff picks and predictions
The Bloody Elbow team has filed its predictions for UFC 231, and while everyone who wrote something up chosen Max Holloway over Brian Ortega, overall opinion is fairly divided. In terms of the co-main event, things are divided as to who’ll prevail between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Valentina Shevchenko. It is excellent to have toss-up title conflicts such as these two, isn’t it?
Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and gathered the day before the event. Explanations behind every choice are not required and some writers elect not to do this for their own motives. For instance, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without incorporating in any explanations, he has no idea if he’s likely to be the only one siding with a single fighter for any given fight.
Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega
Anton Tabuena: This really is pretty straightforward to me. With any bizarre health issues, Max Holloway should fully run via Ortega here. Holloway is just better and a lot more dangerous than the rest of the people Ortega has beaten. This is clearly still MMA and Ortega has shown that he has adequate power, but he certainly won’t pick apart someone as technically adept as Holloway. I believe this will look a lot like Ortega’s past spells, but he’ll take a far worse beating and won’t have the ability to secure that miracle comeback. Max Holloway by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: There’s a degree of unsustainability into Ortega’s love of finishing battles over winning rounds, and Holloway is a masterful round winner. I am obviously assuming we are receiving the ideal version of Max Holloway, therefore that’s the secret here. Ortega has grown tremendously as a striker, but until this point, Holloway has proven a ridiculous chin and he is likely not the person who you want to engage in a high-paced brawl with. Ortega enjoys the jumping guillotine, I guess Holloway will be ready for that, and he’s a damn great grappler in his own right. Takedowns are unlikely on both sides, and Ortega specifically has revealed himself to be not especially good at shooting down his opponents in the first place. While Ortega is very dangerous based on what we’ve seen out of him in recent conflicts, I trust Holloway to do more harm and prevent the timeless Ortega comeback. Max Holloway by decision.
Zane Simon: Ortega’s struggle against Frankie Edgar was something of a revelation. He has always been tricky, always been dangerous, but that has been the first time that his striking style – built around a lot slicker moves and frequently a lack of basic ones – has looked like a complete game. He worked behind the jab, feinted, drew out predictable responses and changed up his entries to club Frankie into unconsciousness. It was damn pretty. It also suggests that it is hard to say how much more advanced Ortega might be now. Without seeing more consistency and variety to his game, and without visiting an ability to keep output over multiple hard hitting rounds, I need to pick Holloway. His ability to push a pace then to up that pace as his competitors tire, his capacity to change aims in conjunction and open up new combinations off sooner, easier ones, just are not skills that Ortega has shown yet. And Ortega still has a background of losing rounds he has not completed the fight in. Even with Max’s health scare, most of the questions are around Ortega’s side and nearly all of the replies are on Holloway’s. Max Holloway by decision.
Victor Rodriguez: Neither man will be looking to take down the other, and Holloway’s clinch game is lethal. Having said this, Ortega’s been a man I have counted out in so many struggles, I feel stupid picking him against him. He ought to have a range disadvantage and Max’s frenetic pace must make this hard for him due to quantity, but Ortega doesn’t get hit that far and seems to keep finding ways to pull a bunny from his hat. I still want to select Ortega by diving to get a flying armbar from a clinch scenario, but that is a small reckless for me personally. And while I’m still worried about the fact that we still don’t know what health issues Holloway had time, it seems that the guy that wears harm well and contains a more complete and composed approach to his attacks need to be able to take over as the battle continues on and apply pressure accordingly. Max Holloway by decision.
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