THURSDAY NEWS DIGEST 12/6 – Max Holloway and Brian Ortega verbally spar ahead of UFC 231, Dana White defends Greg Hardy booking, weekend UFC and Bellator ratings

By Michael Hiscoe, Managing Editor

Max Holloway (photo credit Gary A. Vasquez © USA Today)

Ortega calls Holloway “Delirious”

The buildup to UFC 231 has been relatively tame thus far. The biggest hook to Holloway vs. Ortega is if the fight will actually happen, and now that we are only two days away, things are finally heating up between the two. At a pre-fight press conference held on Wednesday, Ortega fired the first shot in the verbal war.

“Someone is still delirious,” Ortega said after Holloway claimed that he is “lapping” Ortega based on their respective records. Holloway was pulled from a fight with Ortega at UFC 226 earlier this year due to “concussion symptoms” but not before giving some questionably coherent interviews, notably one with Michael Bisping on UFC Tonight.

At the end of the day, Ortega was respectful of Holloway’s health and understands the circumstances regarding the pull-out.

“I know we’re fighting and all that, but I do hope he’s all right,” Ortega said. “To me, it ain’t cool if you step in there and you’re not physically all right, or something is going on. For me, I wouldn’t want me to step in there. I wouldn’t want him to step in there, especially you’ve got a family. I’ve got my family.”

Dana White defends booking Greg Hardy on same card as Rachael Ostovich

Prior to Wednesday’s UFC 231 press conference, UFC public relations officials reportedly told media members to focus questions solely on the upcoming fights. This came on the same day that news broke of Greg Hardy, who was charged and convicted of domestic assault before having the charges dropped on appeal, was booked on the same card as recent domestic violence survivor Rachael Ostovich. So while the media were asked not to bring this story, or anything not UFC 231 related up at the press conference, White did speak to Aaron Bronsteter of UFC’s Canadian broadcast partner, TSN about the choice to book Hardy and Ostovich on the same card.

“I called Rachael Ostovich and talked to her and walked her through this situation,” White said. “And her take on it was, ‘His story isn’t my story. Everybody’s story is different, and I believe in second chances. I have no problem fighting on the same card as this guy.’

White was characteristically defiant regarding those who are questioning the choice to book Hardy and Ostovich on the same card.

“Listen, if you want to make it an issue, you can make it an issue,” he said. “Everybody can make it an issue if they want to. Rachael Ostovich doesn’t have an issue with it, and that’s all that matters to me.”

Weekend ratings

UFC’s “Ultimate Fighter” Finale on Friday night disappointed in the ratings. The show averaged 399,000 viewers for the show headlined by Rafael dos Anjos and Kamaru Usman. The audience peaked early in the show for the main card opener between Antonina Shevchenko taking on Ji Yeon Kim.

Bellator’s Friday night card headlined by Chidi Njokuani and John Salter averaged 270,000 viewers for the two-hour card. Bellator on Saturday averaged 207,000 viewers for the afternoon show airing live from Genoa, Italy.

Saturday’s UFC Fight Night from Adelaide, Australia fared better, averaging 702,000 viewers and peaked for the main event between Junior Dos Santos and Tai Tuivasa.

Thursday Notebook Items

-Sijara Eubanks will be moving up to bantamweight after having trouble making 125 pounds for her last two fights.

Kamaru Usman told TMZ that he was offered a fight with Colby Covington and is waiting on Covington to accept, but doesn’t expect it to happen. “I guarantee you he’s going to say no.”

-The Henry Cejudo-TJ Dillashaw flyweight title fight has been moved from UFC 233 to UFC’s ESPN+ debut on Jan. 19.

Fight Announcements

-Dominick Cruz will fight John Lineker at UFC 233 on Jan. 26 from Anaheim, CA.

-Joanne Calderwood vs. Ariane Lipski has been moved from UFC 233 to UFC on EPSN+ on Jan. 19 from Brooklyn, NY.

UFC 231 Embedded

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