HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Max Holloway was pulled from the co-main event of UFC 226 this past Saturday, Brian Ortega refused a last-minute replacement fight against featherweight contender Jeremy Stephens.
But now that Ortega is nearly a week removed from having his opponent forced to withdraw due to concussion-like symptoms, he's calling for the UFC to strip Holloway of his title and vacate the featherweight belt.
"From what I'm getting now, they said that Max might not fight for a long time, and he might not even fight 145," Ortega said during Ariel Helwani's MMA Show on Monday. "So I told them then, make the belt vacant and then I'll fight whoever you guys want me to fight ASAP. I'll fight them at UFC 227 here in Staples (Center in Los Angeles) but let's get that situated."
UFC president Dana White said during last week Thursday's UFC 226 pre-fight press conference that Holloway would not be fighting anytime in the foreseeable future until the Waianae native's health problems are resolved.
There has been no official diagnosis for Holloway's condition as of Tuesday morning since Holloway's camp announced he was suffering from concussion-like symptoms. White did tell Yahoo Sports last week, however, that he heard a theory that Holloway's condition is a direct result of water intoxication going into his weight cut.
While White's water intoxication theory might not be the reason for Holloway's forced withdrawal from UFC 226, the future for the organization's current featherweight champion is unknown.
What is certain, however, is that Ortega wants Holloway back to full health so they can resolve their unfinished business sooner rather than later.
"Something felt wrong. Something felt really wrong, from the beginning," Ortega said. " ... He just, you could tell it was, either he was having a really bad, what I thought was he was having a really bad weight cut, but I didn't know it was a concussion, and then, I don't know. Now they're saying water intoxication. So, whichever one, it's just, as long as his health is good, that's all I want for him."