UFC 231

UFC 231 predictions — Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega: Fight card, expert picks, odds, lines

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Max Holloway and Brian Ortega could very well be two of the pound-for-pound best mixed martial artists in the world today. So when the two (hopefully) step inside the Octagon on Saturday night at UFC 231 in Toronto, some major questions will be answered.

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Holloway has been scheduled to fight three times so far in 2018, but for multiple reasons, is still yet to enter the Octagon. Holloway stepped in on a week’s notice to take on Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in April when a freak injury forced Tony Ferguson out of action. But while attempting to cut weight, the New York State Athletic Commission stepped in and told him it would be unhealthy to continue his cut.

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Then, Holloway was scheduled to take on Ortega at UFC 226 in the co-main event for the featherweight title. But after an interview with Michael Bisping where Holloway was noticeably slurring his words, UFC made the call to pull him with what was described at the time as concussion-like symptoms.

Now, just five months later, the two are expected to settle this in Canada, but questions still remain about Holloway’s health. Meanwhile, UFC will have its first two women’s flyweight title bout when Valentina Shevchenko takes on former strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in the co-main event.

Here’s a look at the full card from Toronto with the latest odds from Westgate.

UFC 231 odds

FAVORITE UNDERDOG WEIGHTCLASS
Brian Ortega -115 Max Holloway (c) -105 Featherweight title
Valentina Shevchenko -330 Joanna Jedrzejczyk +260 Women’s flyweight title
Thiago Santos -200 Jimi Manuwa +170 Light heavyweight
Gunnar Nelson -120 Alex Oliveira -100 Welterweight
Hakeem Dawodu -180 Kyle Bochniak +150 Featherweight
Claudia Gadelha -330 Nina Ansaroff +260 Women’s strawweight
Katlyn Chookagian -200 Jessica Eye +170 Women’s flyweight
Eryk Anders -125 Elias Theodorou -100 Middleweight
Olivier Aubin-Mercier -135 Gilbert Burns +115 Lightweight
Aleksandar Rakic -600 Devin Clark +425 Light heavyweight
Brad Katona -170 Matthew Lopez +145 Bantamweight
Chad Laprise -400 Dheigo Lima +300 Welterweight
Diego Ferreira -340 Jesse Ronson +280 Lightweight

With a big card on tap, our experts took a crack at picking each of the main card fights. Here are your pick makers: Brian Campbell (combat sports writer), Matthew Coca (producer), Michael Mormile (producer), Jack Jorgensen (editor) and Brandon Wise (editor).

UFC 231 predictions

FIGHT CAMPBELL MORMILE COCA JORGENSEN WISE
Holloway (c) vs. Ortega Ortega Ortega Holloway Ortega Holloway
Shevchenko vs. Jerdzejczyk Shevchenko Shevchenko Shevchenko Shevchenko Shevchenko
Manuwa vs. Santos Manuwa Santos Manuwa Manuwa Manuwa
Oliveira vs. Nelson Oliveira Nelson Nelson Nelson Oliveira
Dawodu vs. Bochniak Bochniak Dawodu Dawodu Dawodu Bochniak
Overall (2018) 31-28-0 33-26-0 31-28-0 29-30-0 35-24-0

Campbell on why Ortega will win: If all things were equal, Holloway-Ortega is the kind of fight between two pound-for-pound rated fighters in their absolute primes that likely would threaten for instant classic or fight-of-the-year contention. All things likely aren’t equal, however; not after the kind of difficult year both physically and mentally that Holloway has had. From twice being forced to pull out of fights to a severe battle with depression and a medical diagnosis that was inconclusive at best, it’s hard to imagine Holloway will be 100 percent on Saturday. If he’s not, Ortega is just too dangerous as a finisher and on too red-hot of a roll to slow down. For as great as Holloway is, we feel like we already know his ceiling. The same can’t exactly be said for Ortega and that’s a scary proposition.

Wise on why Holloway will win: I went back and forth on this pick four times over. In the end, if Holloway makes it into the Octagon on Saturday night, it’s tough to pick against him and his incredible run. Holloway’s speed and strike avoidance has been a huge key to success for the featherweight champion and he will need it again on Saturday to prevent Ortega from getting this fight to the ground. This ends in a controversial decision that delivers a tremendous rematch build in 2019.

Jorgensen on why Shevchenko will win: Ultimately, as much as some may not want to hear this, I believe the crowning of a new women’s flyweight champion on Saturday night will fall into the hands of the judges after five rounds. We know the damage Joanna is capable of when she begins to push forward, although that can sometimes work to her detriment. As much as I’ve been a noted fan of the former strawweight champion, it will work against her again with the flyweight title on the line. Shevchenko will be able to keep Jedrzejczyk at bay when she does attempt to lunge forward with strikes, and will utilize her counter-striking to earn enough points with the judges to capture the gold that’s eluded her during her UFC run. Bullet via unanimous decision. 

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