Who’s Next at Featherweight? A Look at Who Could Replace Max Holloway at UFC 272

Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega, UFC 266
Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega, UFC 266 press conference Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Brian Ortega

Record: 15-2, 1NC Last Fought: Alexander Volkanovski, September 2021

Speaking of dark horse candidates…

Brian Ortega is the last man to have fought Alexander Volkanovski for the featherweight title. That took place at UFC 266 in September, and neither man has competed since.

The fight was a wild one, with Volkanovski winning a unanimous decision to retain his title. Ortega took a beating in the later rounds, and won just a single round on a single scorecard when all was said and done. He left looking far worse for the wear — but also showed he had considerable heart in the fight.

The rivalry between the two was built up on The Ultimate Fighter 29, where the featherweight pair served as coaches. If there’s one thing the UFC is good at selling, it’s grudge matches, and if there’s another, it’s rematches. Put the two together, and you might just get a good storyline out of the fight — even if Ortega hasn’t done enough to deserve an immediate rematch.

This one likely only happens if all other options fall through.