UFC 226 ended up being the best card of the year until now. The card did great on all aspects from being stacked from bottom to top to gate and attendance. Almost impossible to accept that just days before the fight, the card suffered a huge blow.
Featherweight king Max Holloway who was scheduled to defend his title for the second time on the co-main event was forced to pull out of the fight due to ‘concussion like’ symptoms, blurry vision and slurred speech. Challenger Brian ‘T-City’ Ortega who had already began his weight cut, was left opponent less.
UFC however began their quest to find a replacement. In came the #4 ranked featherweight contender Jeremy ‘Lil Heathen’ Stephens who was ‘blowing out’ White’s phone. UFC President Dana White at a pre-fight press conference said that the UFC attempted to fill in Stephens as a replacement to fight Ortega but Ortega didn’t take the fight. Fans booed inside the Pearl at the Palms when White said that.
Ortega took to Instagram to address this issue.
“I’m a Businessman, a company man, but I’m no yes man,” Ortega said. “Watching the fights last night knowing I could have been performing for all of you truly took a toll on me. I stand by my decision. Thank you to all of you who showed up to support and respected my decision,” Ortega said. “For those of you who don’t agree with me I completely understand and promise to give you guys the show of your life when I fight for the title.” (via Instagram):
Interestingly Ortega had a similar route to the title. He earned his title shot after replacing Holloway at UFC 222 against Frankie Edgar who risked his title shot just for the fans. Ortega however thought differently and didn’t choose that route.