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Midnight Mania! Brian Ortega details standing up to Dana White, being told he didn’t do his job

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Brian Ortega wasn’t paid at all after his UFC 226 co-main event with Max Holloway fell through after Holloway showed very worrying signs of brain trauma.

Brian Ortega says that, for the first time ever, his team were 100% in agreement that he shouldn’t risk his spot on a last-minute replacement fight. Dana, though, wasn’t in the mood for dissent. Transcript via

“All of [my team] were on the same page,” Ortega recently told Brendan Schaub on Below the Belt. “It never happened in the history of our team. It’s always like [one guys says] ‘I think you should take it,’ [another guy says] ‘No, you’re stupid!’ and then it’s this thing and we finally come to an agreement. This time, I walked in the room and everyone was on the same page...

“[So], we talked to Dana and he was pretty pissed off. He was just in a bad mood, a fight fell through, DC just fell, and then he walks in this meeting. So I tell him, ‘Hey, I’m not gonna fight.’ I’m holding my ground. ‘Listen, with all due respect, I stepped in and fought [Thiago] Tavares on two weeks’ notice, I stepped in and I fought Frankie on three weeks’ notice, and I stepped in and tried to fight Khabib [Nurmagomedov] on six days’ notice. It’s not a scared issued, it’s not that I’m not down for the company. I finished everyone you told me to, every single person you put in front of me, I took their heads off and, like Conor [McGregor] says, I put them on your f**king doorstep. That earned me a title shot and now that I’m here, why go anywhere else besides forward?”

Brian Ortega always comes across as an extremely calm, rational guy. Surely Dana White would see reason. But no, that’s not what happened.

“[Dana] put on his promoter hat and is like, ‘Listen man, just fight, we’ll work something out,’ and I was like, ‘We don’t need to work anything out. I want Max Holloway or I want the belt.’ [Dana says] ‘Well, we’ll see if we can do an interim belt.’ I’m not fighting for a fake belt. It looks cool but it’s not the real belt. There’s no real money involved with that one. Nothing really goes on in terms of being a champion. You just get something that says, ‘I’m first place.’ It just says I’m next in line for the belt but I’m already here! You just want to put something shiny around my waist to make me feel better. No, I’m not gonna do it.

As an aside, the UFC stripping Tony Ferguson of his interim title, and now talking about stripping Colby Covington of the interim belt he just won, signal that Ortega was 100% right in his estimation that an interim title means nothing.

“I showed up, I was cutting weight, I did all the media, even the media in Spanish. I had to do double the work and do all that in Spanish. Every fighter left and I’m still stuck there doing everything in Spanish. I showed I was a company man. I was down to promote the hell out of this fight, I took extra hours while I’m hungry, starving, to keep doing media. I showed up. Don’t you think that’s worth something? Even if I didn’t take the fight, I did my end of the deal. Then they came back and said ‘Well our deal is to find you a fight and we found you a fight and you turned it down. I did my job, you didn’t do yours. Your job is to show up and fight.’”

The UFC have been stunningly inconsistent on paying show and/or win money in the case of a cancelled fight, the deciding factor here seemingly being that Dana White was in a pissy mood. Despite record profits for the company last year, Dana White infamously said after several fights fell through at UFC 223 in Brooklyn that “we have that much money” to pay fighters both show and win money.

It is hardly unusual to see Dana White and the UFC play hardball with their labor; estimates for fighter share of revenue are somewhere at or below 17%, after all; that figure will only get lower with the new ESPN deal. This is the impetus behind several different attempts to organize fighters, the most recent, and potentially significant, being Leslie Smith’s attempt with Project Spearhead to get UFC fighters’ employment status reviewed; employee status would allow them to form a fighter union. She seemed to score an initial victory when the NLRB decided she had a case, but that victory was quickly delayed when the NLRB suddenly changed course and sent her complaint to D.C. for further review.

Unless they unionize, the anti-trust lawsuit pays off, or Dana White somehow gets exposed by the #MeToo movement, the fighters remain at the whims of an emotional, vindictive promoter.


In related news, Brian Ortega is a very big featherweight.

Hopefully the doctors can figure out what is going on with Max Holloway’s brain, and hopefully he really is feeling better and not just being positive. It would be an incredible shame to see his career end just as he’s reaching his peak.

This is the fight to make next- and it seems Adesanya is down to fight Anderson.

Eventually, Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa will be a great middleweight fight. The Style Bender vs. the Eraser. Anderson Silva should come first.

Jim Miller teaches self defense with a fishing pole. Crucial stuff.

This raccoon was not dissuaded by this woman’s paddle. Maybe she should sign up for Jim Miller’s class.

A post shared by Derrick Lewis (@thebeastufc) on

Courtney Casey replaces Alexa Grasso, facing Angela Hill next month in Nebraska.

Cat Zingano’s fan art is good.

Don’t forget steroids, Jonny Bones- I mean, dick pills, and cocaine. Also, happy birthday.

You have to love this- a cashier gave Paul Felder advice on his spinning back fist.

Ronda Rousey facing a basketball player for some reason

Yes, this fight was good before but it is better with lightsabers.

A post shared by Derrick Lewis (@thebeastufc) on

I wonder what advice George St. Pierre got from Sugar Ray Leonard

Volkan Oezdemir being out of his fight with Gustafsson could end up being a huge favor to Gustafsson, who may face an easier opponent now. Or a more difficult one, who knows.

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting

Mitt work flow from a Muay Thai expert

Fan art from Mike Perry’s fight with Paul Felder.

I said we would paint a beautiful masterpiece #FanArt #MasterPieceMikePerry

A post shared by Platinum Mike Perry (@platinummikeperry) on

Slips, Rips, KO Clips

A dominant angle

This slam is almost balletic in it’s effortless grace

Arm-triangle choke from PFL

I would hate to be the guy who wasn’t out when they thought I was out, but congrats to Steven Siler

Firstly, amazing nickname. “The Mama’s Boy” is perfect. Secondly, I can’t believe this setup to the guillotine worked- Kelvin Tiller must have some serious squeeze

Fantastic technique. Immortal, almost.

Quick Hits

  • Luke Rockhold’s after the fact “I would totally have gone HAM on Brock Lesnar” when in real life he couldn’t be bothered to do anything besides stand there in his white pants was my chuckle of the day.
  • The real heavyweight contender who is being overlooked, Curtis Blaydes, shouldn’t be so hard on himself. His fighting style is plenty exciting. He slams and elbows his way to wins. The problem is solely that more people will pay to see Brock Lesnar and his screwed-up teeth fight than even know who Curtis Blaydes is.

Podcasts and Video

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