C-Max “Blessed” Holloway (19-3) vs. Brian “T-City” Ortega (14-0)
The main event of UFC 231 is a fight everyone has been dying to watch! An electric matchup between two of the hottest win-streaks in MMA. Max Holloway enters the contest riding a 12 fight win streak, his last loss coming at the hands of Conor McGregor in 2013. Since that loss, Holloway has put on impressive performance after impressive performance, culminated by winning the interim featherweight belt against Anthony Pettis, unifying the belt in a bout against José Aldo, then successfully defending the belt, again against Aldo.
Brian Ortega, on the other hand, enters with an undefeated 14-0 (1 NC). Ortega has finished his last six fights, capped off with a vicious KO of Frankie Edgar at the end of the 1st round, back in March. Stylistically, this is the type of fight that the UFC can capitalize on, and will keep MMA fans talking for months, potentially becoming an instant classic.
This is anyone’s guess as to who will win, but let’s look at some of the particulars. I mentioned moments ago that Ortega had finished his last six (seven if you include the NC) opponents. He has three KOs, seven submissions, and four decision victories all while keeping his record out of the loss column. Holloway, in his 19 wins has nine KOs, two submissions, and eight decision victories, finishing his last three opponents via TKO. While Ortega is the real deal, it is tough for me to doubt the Champ in this one.
PREDICTION: Max Holloway (RND 3) TKO
Joanna “JJ” Jedrzejczyk (15-2) vs. Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko (15-3)
UFC 231 co-main event features a battle for the Women’s vacant flyweight title between two excellent fighters. Jedrzejczyk, who is widely considered the best female fighter of all time, takes on Valentina Shevchenko in this highly anticipated matchup.
These two women have very different fighting styles. JJ is a calculated striker that is intense in pursuit and is continuously varying her strikes. She works the head and body throughout but uses knees and kicks to keep her opponents always guessing on where her next attack will come from.
Insert Shevchenko. One of the best counter-strikers in the combat sports world, always making her opponent pay for lunging in to connect. What makes Shevchenko different in her counter-striker style is the volume she throws. She loves to counter with a two-punch combo and leg kick on the break.
This will come down to who is more precise in the fight. If JJ can move in and out and vary enough strikes to frustrate Shevchenko, she should earn the “easy” victory. But closing distance and escaping unharmed isn’t the norm against Shevchenko. If she can dial in the range and speed of Jedrzejczyk, the counters will rain down aplenty.
I, for one, am very excited about this fight and the future of the women’s flyweight division! UFC 231 is a card we may be talking about for a while!