Brian Ortega knows how to outsmart Ilia Topuira

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Brian Ortega wants to return to the UFC featherweight title picture. However, Yaiir Rodriguez may be too big of an obstacle for him to pass. That’s why Ortega hopes that a win over such strong opposition will help him reach his goals. Especially after unsuccessful tries to dethrone both Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski.

The thing is, that Ortega’s campaign may be over if Ilia Topuria beats Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 298 and becomes the new title holder. Topuria was caught on record stating that he would not grant a title shot to Ortega, Holloway, or Yair Rodriguez in case of his victory. Why? Because all of them failed at the hands of Alexander “The Great.”

On the February 6 edition of “The MMA Hour,” Topuria said: 

“They can go and retire. I’m never going to give them a chance to fight for the title.”

Ortega will have his chance to grab the contender’s status by beating Rodriguez at UFC Fight Night in Mexico City on Feb. 24. He doesn’t plan to stand in line or wait long enough to see the next champion crowned. On the contrary, he wants to borrow a page from Holloway’s playbook by pushing other potential challengers from the chess board. 

In his interview with CBS Sports Ortega said:

“You have to win the belt for that to happen. That was my first thought. Let’s say you do win and you’re not going to give us a shot, then I’m going to make sure to ruin every contender. Simple as that. One, you have to win it. Two, I’m going to take all the contenders away from you… If you don’t want to fight us then I’m going to take all your people.”

To some point, Ortega and Topuria look like mirror images of one another. “T-City” started his career back in 2010, went through the regional MMA circuit, made his way to the UFC, and was derailed by Max Hallowey. The two of them fought for the UFC featherweight title at UFC 231 with the doctor stopping the fight after the fourth outing. Ortega got his second shot at the belt at UFC 266, where he fought Volkanovski. The Australian fighter was awarded the belt thanks to the unanimous decision of the judges. In his most recent fight, he lost to Rodriguez

Topuira has gone through a similar path as Ortega and won all of his 14 professional MMA fights. And this will be his first shot at the UFC gold. 

“There’s always the question of, ‘Is he ready or is he not?’ Skillfully he’s looked good against the people he’s faced. He’s technically sound. He’s the full package when it comes to striking, wrestling, jiu-jitsu. You can’t look at him and say he has one full weakness that’s exploitable. But I do believe that guys such as Volk have a different type of level of chess. 

Still, Ortega is looking to watch the UFC 298 feature bout. 

“That’s why these fights are amazing to watch. You have someone confident, someone who is ready as if he’s already the champ and defended it three times. And then you have the guy who has been at the top of the mountain and is kicking everyone down. It’s a good fight. A lot of questions will be answered after this weekend but it’s hard to go against Volk.”

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