Brian Ortega – Nightmare Start to Biggest Win of Career

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Brian Ortega picked up the biggest win of his career this past weekend at UFC Mexico City when he submitted Yair Rodriguez in the third round of their co-main event. The fight was a rematch of their 2022 bout where Ortega suffered an injury causing a premature stoppage to the bout. The two men were friendly prior to the fight, which scheduled for five rounds had massive ramifications in the featherweight division, especially with a new champion.

Pre-Fight & First Round Nightmare for T-City

Ahead of the fight, during the introductions Brian Ortega was psyching himself up by jumping up and down and seemingly landed awkwardly on his ankle. His ankle buckled and it was seemingly causing him issues. He was shaking it out, mentioned something to his team and even mentioned it after the fight itself. The broadcast showed the ankle roll, which was an immediate talking point in the fight. We’re lucky that it didn’t cause an issue, especially as we’d already had a fight cancelled on fight night.

After a strange start to proceedings, Ortega performed as if he’d only had 4:11 of octagon time since September 2021. He was slow to react to El Pantera‘s attacks, which were very boxing heavy to start off with. Of course, he mixed in with his signature quick kicks, however, overwhelmed Ortega with volume more than power shots. With that being said, he knocked T-City down and looked to finish things early, but in classic Ortega fashion, he weathered the storm, didn’t allow the Mexican to break his will and rallied.

Towards the end of the first, Ortega landed a takedown and despite suffering with a busted nose and swollen eye, he was able to largely control Rodriguez on the ground in top position.

Round Two Takeover, Round Three Finish

Having had successes at the end of the first round, Ortega knew what he needed to do in the second round and not only did that, but dominated. He closed the distance quicker, limiting the kicking game of Rodriguez.

Landing a beautiful takedown, Ortega grounded Rodriguez with time to work. He prioritised ground and pound over a submission, landing 39 of 70 strikes. He bust the Mexican open and more than anything, he knew what he had to do to win the bout.

The momentum was very much in favour of the American and he began the third round with a similar intensity that he finished the second round with. He was straight on the front foot (yes the ankle that he had seemingly injured pre-fight, which now seemed like a lifetime ago). It was a similar takedown to the one that he landed in the second round which saw him ground his opponent again in the third, however, he rushed into a more dominant position this time, locking in an arm-triangle choke and getting the tap. It marked Ortega’s first submission victory since 2017.

What’s next for T-City?

With this win, Ortega puts some of the doubters to bed. Many questioned if he still had the desire after such a long time out of the octagon. In Mexico, he showed just how skilled he is, that he still has that ‘dog’ in him and that he can still be a player at 145lbs.

There are two options for Ortega next and he benefits from a fairly shallow featherweight division. He could realise a title shot as there isn’t a clear #1 contender and the UFC have previously given him multiple title shots. He’s a personality in the sport as well as clearly having the talent to compete at the top level.

With that being said, he’s likely going to need one more win to cement himself at the true #1 contender. Logically, it would be Movsar Evloev who would meet Ortega. The Russian is enjoying an eight fight winning run and is undefeated throughout his entire career. Evloev blasted Ortega on X (formerly Twitter) recently so the rivalry could make for interesting viewing during the build up.

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Frazer Krohn has been with MMASucka for nearly 5 years. He is the host of the MMASucka podcast, which is released every Monday. He's the author of a series of six books about MMA, which were published in 2023.

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