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UFC Long Island’s Brian Ortega explains ‘bittersweet’ matchup with Yair Rodriguez

UFC 266: Volkanovski v Ortega Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Brian Ortega will be competing against a friend tomorrow afternoon (Sat., July 16, 2022) at UFC Long Island live on ABC/ESPN/ESPN+ from inside UBS Arena at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, when “T-City” meets fellow featherweight contender Yair Rodriguez in the main event.

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Ortega, who is coming off a decision loss to current UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 266 last September, isn’t happy about his matchup with “El Pantera.” While Ortega understands that the current 145-pound landscape calls for their matchup he has a good rapport with Rodriguez and never envisioned a time when they’d fight for Octagon supremacy.

“This is obviously someone who I didn’t want to face, and now we’re facing each other, you know, and it’s bittersweet, I guess,” Ortega told MMA Underground. “It’s bittersweet. One, I get another opponent who is number three In the world, you know? I’m number two, so it makes sense matchup-wise, right? Who’s there? And I’m not a hater, man. If he does beat me, I hope he does get that title shot.

“This is one of those fights where it sucks,” Ortega continued. “I’m in a weird position where I like the guy and I rooted for him, and now it’s like, well, I can’t root for you against me, though, you know? And he’s cool, man, you know? We’re not best friends, but we have a good relationship. We’ve hung out. We’ve partied together. We’ve done some cool stuff together, and s**t, now we get to fight each other and entertain.”

The two even embraced before Friday’s official face off.

Ortega, 31, remains one of the best fighters in UFC’s featherweight division. Having only lost to Volkanovski and former division king Max Holloway since his UFC inception back in 2014 Ortega has the opportunity to lock down another UFC title shot with a few wins. His road to redemption starts this Saturday against Rodriguez, who is coming off a decision loss to Holloway last November.

“I think it’s a great matchup. This is a war, like, no other way to put it. This is a war stylistically, from our culture, to everything,” Ortega added. “I’m hoping that this is another classic, honestly.”

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Long Island fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 11 a.m. ET, followed by the ABC/ESPN+ main card start time at 2 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Long Island news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archives here, here, and here. For the updated and finalized “Ortega vs. Rodriguez” fight card and ABC/ESPN/ESPN+ lineup click here.