One of the biggest (if not the biggest) featherweight fights in UFC history to date happened at UFC 194 in December 2015. Then 145-pound Jose Aldo was finally facing Conor McGregor, a fight that was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 189 five months prior.
McGregor ended up scoring a highlight reel 13-second knockout, but the event drew in a whopping 1.4 million pay-per-view buys.
Fast forward to 2018, where neither man holds a world title, and the 145-pound strap is currently in the possession of Max Holloway. He is set to defend the belt against the undefeated Brian Ortega at UFC 226, which is expected to be a monumental event to headline International Fight Week in Las Vegas.
The upcoming contest is also the biggest fight in Ortega’s career. But for the 27-year-old Gracie Academy representative, this matchup could easily approach the Aldo-McGregor fight in terms of magnitude.
“From what I have seen, I feel like this is going to be the biggest fight in featherweight history since Conor and Aldo,” Ortega said (via MMA Mania). “If you look at it as in terms of the biggest fight, I feel this will be the biggest since then.”
“I feel like he’s fought the same guys I fought except for Frankie,” Ortega said of Holloway. “He beat Aldo twice. These guys are from a different generation, right. I feel like these guys are the beginning of the featherweight division, and now I fought against a veteran and he fought Aldo and he was against a veteran.”
“Now you truly have two young guys who are at their peak of their prime, at the top of their level and we are going to fight each other,” he continued. “For me this is exciting because I come in here in this game to test myself. And right now I’m competing against the best guys in the featherweight division.”
Holloway himself has been on an undefeated run since 2014, running through one top contender to another until he finally got his title shot and won. Ortega has done the same thing, capping off his recent streak by dealing Frankie Edgar his first-ever career stoppage loss.
Against Holloway, Ortega is expecting nothing short of a memorable and exhilarating fight.
“Now I’m sitting as the No. 1 contender. There is no other way to put it than you are going to have two real hungry guys, one is hungry to keep it and the other is hungry to take it,” Ortega said. “There’s nothing else to it man, except that the fireworks show isn’t going to be on fourth of July but on the seventh of July.”
UFC 226 will be headlined by a heavyweight super-fight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier.