With UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway pulling out of the UFC 226 co-main event vs. Brian Ortega, officials were scrambling to see what they could book in its place. According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, there was a totally out of left field idea that nearly materialized: an interim title between Frankie Edgar and Jeremy Stephens.
Per sources, the UFC tried to make Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens for interim featherweight title late, late last night, but it’s just too short of notice for Edgar. He wanted to do it, I’m told, but wasn’t feasible.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) July 5, 2018
Edgar does not have a fight scheduled, whereas Stephens is preparing for Jose Aldo at UFC on FOX 30 in Calgary on July 28th. This would’ve been a rematch of their three-round bout at UFC 205, which Edgar won by unanimous decision, but not without surviving a head kick knockdown from Stephens.
Had this gone through, it would’ve been the fourth interim title created for the featherweight division in just three years. If you’re wondering why on earth Ortega wouldn’t be a part of this interim title picture, it’s because he reportedly declined to face Stephens so he could wait for Holloway to recover from his “concussion-like symptoms.”
I’m told the UFC’s first choice when Holloway was pulled, was an interim title fight between Ortega and Stephens. Ortega is declining that fight, opting to wait for Holloway. No timeframe for Holloway’s return right now, obviously, but no chance he’d fight at UFC 227 next month.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) July 5, 2018
So with Holloway and Ortega both off the July 7th card, UFC 226 will proceed with eleven fights, and only one championship bout, the heavyweight superfight between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier.