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Monday Morning Hangover: What’s next for Brian Ortega after suffering first-ever loss at UFC 231?

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Another weekend of fisticuffs has come and gone as UFC 231 blew the roof off Scotiabank Arena last Saturday night (Dec. 8, 2018) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who came up short in her bid to become UFC’s first-ever female two-division champ after getting worked over by Valentina Shevchenko (see it).

And Jimi Manuwa, who suffered his third straight loss after getting knocked out by Thiago Santos during a wild barn-burner. But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now 48 hours removed from the show?

Brian Ortega.

Going into his first-ever title fight against Featherweight champion Max Holloway, “T-City” was the betting favorite in some circles thanks to his undefeated record (14-0-1, 6-0-1 UFC) and string of consecutive finishes. Plus, there were many questions regarding “Blessed’s” health over the past year, which could have swayed some bookies.

But Max quickly shut down all of the naysayers and doubters, taking it to Ortega from the jump, piling on the punches in bunches and establishing his infamous pressure. He didn’t look like a man who has questions surrounding his overall health and who had been sidelined for over a year.

But, it wasn’t all that easy for Max to score his fourth round technical knockout (doctor’s stoppage) victory, as Ortega proved to be as game as anyone on the UFC roster. While he did manage to get a few licks in, what impressed the masses was his granite chin and ability to keep pushing forward despite taking damage at a rapid pace. Even when Holloway teed off, Ortega stood in the pocket and never stopped trying to return fire.

While it’s not often you hear a fighter being labeled as too tough, Brian may fit that mold, as he refused to back down an inch despite have a busted nose and his left eye swollen shut. He was literally prepared to die inside the Octagon.

”Doctor stopped it and I agree,” Ortega wrote on Instagram. “Broken nose and a broken thumb. I was willing to die in there. Last night was Max’s night. I’ll be back. Thank you to everyone who’s always believed in me and supported me.”

Heart on top of heart.

Still, Ortega may have garnered an even bigger following after the loss thanks to the display of grit and toughness, which will likely keep him on the sidelines for a while.

But the future is still very bright for Ortega, who is only 27 years of age and has plenty of time to add to his resume and leave his mark on the sport. Like Max did after he lost to Conor McGregor, Ortega can use the defeat as a lesson and go on a run to the top.

I’d like to see him start off against Jose Aldo.

Jose’s last defeat came at the hands of Holloway, and “Junior” is coming off a knockout win over Jeremy Stephens last July. While his return time and Ortega’s may not exactly line up, should Aldo get a win in his next fight — perhaps against this man — Brian should be in line for his comeback.

That’s who I would love to see next, but something tells me the promotion may want to put Ortega in the cage against “Lil Heathen.”

For complete UFC 231 results and coverage click here.