Fresh off his submission win over Bryce Mitchell, streaking 145-pound contender Ilia Topuria told Laura Sanko he wanted to throw hands with two-time featherweight title challenger Brian Ortega to kick off his 2023 fight campaign. Then came rumors from the Topuria camp that UFC was looking to make something happen at UFC 290 in July.
Ortega wants the 13-0 “El Matador” to pump the brakes.
“I see people like Topuria calling me out constantly,” Ortega told The Schmo (transcribed by Drake Riggs). “Two things come to mind, right? One, I’ll never back down to any fighter. I’ve fought the best of the best. I fought the people that you wish you could fight. Two is, I’m not even able to fight so let me get back on my s**t. Let me get back to training and then that’s it.”
Ortega (15-3, 1 NC) has not competed since his technical loss at UFC on ABC 3 last summer, a bout that saw “T-City” succumb to a shoulder injury that as of this writing, still has Ortega on the injured reserves. In addition, it doesn’t sound like Topuria is at the top of his list for potential return opponents.
“I’ll gladly humble someone if I have to and once they earn their way up to where I’m at, you can come join me,” Ortega continued. “But you can’t use your mouth to come up here. This is the fighting world. You can only do so much with your mouth and this time you’re gonna have to fight. I know he has a fight lined up, good for him. If he earns his way up, let’s do it. Anyone that my manager says we gotta do it with then that’s what it is. I’m ready, I’ve never backed out of any fight, and I’m excited to come back.”
Ortega and Topuria are currently separated by six places in the official UFC rankings.