Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight title contender Brian Ortega knows what it's like to compete for the 145-pound title. He also knows how it feels to get his ass whooped for refusing to change up his strategy when the gameplan isn’t working.
“What Max [Holloway] did kind of exposed me as not the best technical guy, so I had to go back in there and fix the patience game,” Ortega told MMA Fighting. “I hate it. You have warriors in there and you have fighters, but they’re both different. Neither is better than the other one. I mean, the one that wins, but I was more of the mentality of the warrior that doesn’t quit. Let’s just go in there and test each other’s will, that was always my mentality. Either I’m gonna get finished or you’re gonna get finished. But in this game, you have to have some smarts and you’re gonna run into people that know how to play human chess, not just fucking warriors and it was a lesson for me.”
That lesson will be put to the test when Ortega headlines the upcoming UFC Fight Island 6 mixed martial arts (MMA) event later this month in Abu Dhabi. That’s where his opponent, “The Korean Zombie,” will look to claim victory, as well as the next shot at reigning featherweight kingpin Alexander Volkanovski.
Someone also in the crosshairs of Ortega.
“I’ve thought about the guy for sure,” Ortega continued. “I just look at him as an interesting challenge. Can I keep it technical with him and can I play his game? Or do I play his game or do I make it a dogfight? … For me, if I would try to be too technical with him and then if that’s not working I’d just basically make it a dogfight. Sometimes it goes well for me, for the majority of my career it’s gone well.”
Ortega (14-1, 1 NC) and Jung (16-5) were expected to collide at UFC Busan last December; however, “T-City” was felled by injury and forced to withdraw, paving the way for Frankie Edgar to step in (and lose) on short notice in what proved to be “The Answer’s” final featherweight appearance.
That means it will have been nearly two years since we last saw Ortega and he’s planning to beat “Zombie” and then challenge Volkanovski. As far as stiff tests go, they don’t get much stiffer in the stacked 145-pound weight class.
“He’s a very smart fighter,” Ortega said. “He’s very intelligent basically, from what I’ve gathered and what I’ve seen from him. He knows how to work his angles and he knows how to set up his shots in order to achieve what he wants and to score points and basically win the rounds. If he doesn’t finish you, he makes sure that he wins the rounds. Fans will always have this thing like, ‘He’s not a real fighter,’ and then people will always be like, ‘No, that’s a smart fighter.’ Somewhat similar to [Georges St-Pierre] where you’re like, ‘GSP always wins the fights, but he’s boring.’ But he’s always winning the fights, whether you like it or not.”
Whether or not Volkanovski wins against Ortega remains to be seen.