After months of speculation and rumors, the UFC made it official Tuesday morning.
Waianae’s Max Holloway will make his long-awaited return, defending his featherweight title against Brian Ortega in the main event of UFC 231 in Toronto.
The highly anticipated showdown between the two best 145-pounders in the world was originally supposed to take place back in July, but Holloway was forced to withdraw for medical reasons.
Three months later, he’s been given the all-clear by doctors to put his 12-fight winning streak on the line.
The “Blessed One” says he’s anxious to return. After being forced to pull out of three straight fights in 2018 due to injury or illness, the 26-year-old admits to KHON2 in his first interview regarding the fight in Toronto that it’s been a trying time.
“My man (NBA player DeMar DeRozan) said it clearly. He was talking about depression, and he said he wished everybody in the world was rich so they could understand that money doesn’t make you happy. At the end of the day, depression is a real thing, you know? I love my work. I love my job. I was depressed, you know, with these fights, blah, blah, blah, things keep falling through, a lot of things keep falling through, especially with that year I had in 2017. It was a great year, you know, but we get to finish up the year strong,” Holloway said.
Holloway says an outpouring of support helped him focus on his journey back to the Octagon.
“I got to find out what true fans is. People was hitting me up and saying, ‘If you don’t ever fight again, because of your health, do not do that,'” Holloway said. “That’s not the case, but to hear people like that supporting me, people I never met in my life, it gives me goose bumps. I got goose bumps thinking about it. I didn’t even meet this guy in person, or girl, or whatever it is. So at the end of the day, it’s amazing. I love my fans. I love everyone. Hold on tight. Buckle in tight. Blessed Era is still in full effect, and we’re going to finish off the year with a bang.”
Ortega enters the fight undefeated in his career, having secured three straight Fight Night bonuses.
The five-round battle joins the previously announced fight between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Valentina Shevchenko for the UFC women’s flyweight title.
A light heavyweight matchup between Jimi Manuwa and Thiago Santos and a middleweight bout between Eryk Anders and Elias Theodorou was also announced.
UFC 231 is set for Dec. 8 on pay-per-view.