Brian Ortega UFC
Brian Ortega celebrates his victory over Frankie Edgar following their featherweight bout during UFC 222 at T-Mobile Arena on March 3, 2018 in Las Vegas. Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

One of the biggest fights on the most highly anticipated MMA card of 2018 thus far has been canceled just a few days before the event. Max Holloway will no longer defend his UFC featherweight championship against Brian Ortega at UFC 226 Saturday night in Las Vegas.

The champ officially withdrew from the card Wednesday night because of concussion-like symptoms, leaving the UFC in search of a new co-main event. Stipe Miocic will put his UFC heavyweight title on the line against light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in the main event.

“Max’s team and UFC staff noticed Max was not normal since late last week. This became obvious to many watching his interviews and public appearances the past few days,” Holloway’s management team said in a statement Wednesday night.

“He was showing concussion-like symptoms before he even started his weight cut and was rushed to the ER on Monday where they admitted him overnight. Initial scans seemed okay, and he was released Tuesday afternoon, but symptoms still continued.

“Max fought with his team to continue with the fight. He showed some improvement over the next day but was still showing obvious symptoms. After open workouts, he crashed and was very hard to wake up. When he did, he had flashing vision and slurred speech.

“He is now back in the ER for further tests.”

The UFC has explored multiple options in hopes of keeping Ortega on the card. With UFC 226 only two days away, it’s looking less and less likely that the challenger will compete at the pay-per-view.

According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, UFC hoped to replace Holloway with Jeremy Stephens and make the bout an interim title fight for the 145-pound championship. Ortega reportedly declined that fight, instead choosing to wait for Holloway to get healthy and get his shot at the undisputed belt.

Frankie Edgar wanted a shot to get on the card as Holloway’s replacement, but he wouldn’t be able to attain medical clearance on such short notice. Edgar was knocked out by Ortega at UFC 222 when he replaced a then-injured Holloway, though he defeated Cub Swanson a month and a half later.

A heavyweight fight between Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis and a lightweight fight between Michael Chiesa and Anthony Pettis are still scheduled for UFC 226. Light heavyweights Gökhan Saki and Khalil Rountree Jr. round out the rest of the card.