There is a tonne of potential in the UFC's featherweight division right now, and Brian Ortega is one athlete that is in great demand. Ortega, who was formerly undefeated in 14 straight matches and considered to be among the most lethal submitting fighters in the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), has recently suffered a run of poor luck.
He received his first career championship chance in a heavily hyped battle against Max Holloway in December 2018, but ultimately fell victim to a fourth-round technical knockout (TKO) following a doctor's stoppage between rounds.
The 32-year-old has made two outings since that day and is now on a two-fight winless run. He has a record of 1-2. The former title challenger lost to Yair Rodriguez by first-round TKO at UFC Long Island in July of last year because of a shoulder injury, plus he continues to not be fully recovered.
Emerging rivals such as Ilia Topuria, who is anxious to face Ortega afterward following an amazing submission victory over Bryce Mitchell in December, have been trying to call Ortega.
“I see people like Topuria calling me out constantly,” Ortega told The Schmo. “Two things come to mind, right? One, I’ll never back down to any fighter. I’ve fought the best of the best. I fought the people that you wish you could fight. Two is, I’m not even able to fight so let me get back on my s***. Let me get back to training and then that’s it.
“I’ll gladly humble someone if I have to and once they earn their way up to where I’m at, you can come join me. But you can’t use your mouth to come up here. This is the fighting world. You can only do so much with your mouth and this time you’re gonna have to fight. I know he has a fight lined up, good for him. If he earns his way up, let’s do it. Anyone that my manager says we gotta do it with then that’s what it is. I’m ready, I’ve never backed out of any fight, and I’m excited to come back.”
Although Ortega tends to not step away from competition, he intends to concentrate on returning to camp and recovering from his injury issues before he accepts any further bouts. He thinks that rather than using their mouths to get publicity, opponents must advance until they get to his level. Nonetheless, Ortega is looking forward to making his return and is prepared to face anybody his manager believes he must battle.
Throughout his 13 fights, Topuria has never lost, and he is presently rated No. 9 in the official UFC standings. Since that Topuria's planned engagements are yet to be formally disclosed, Ortega may know that the public is unaware of.
The featherweight division is already growing big and powerful even though Alexander Volkanovski, the reigning champion, lost to Islam Makhachev in a champion vs champion contest in the lightweight division in February 2023.
Ortega has fought top contenders of the division before and is interested in watching the way things are going to work out at the top of the division. Both a replay against Makhachev as well as a defense against Rodriguez, in his opinion, are due for Volkanovski, and he predicts that Volkanovski will win both contests.