Brian Ortega might have missed out on a championship opportunity, but at least it sounds like he didn’t completely miss out on a paycheck.
What could have been a crowning moment for the 27-year-old on July 7 instead became a complete mess when featherweight champion Max Holloway, Ortega’s scheduled opponent for UFC 226, was forced to withdraw from their bout due to concussion-like symptoms just days before the event.
The UFC scrambled to find a replacement, with featherweight veteran Jeremy Stephens emerging as a frontrunner, but Ortega and his team ultimately declined to accept a replacement opponent. That led to several different conversations about whether Ortega made the right move by passing on UFC 226 and whether he would be paid for the work he put in leading up to the fight.
Ortega said earlier this week that in his initial conversation with UFC president Dana White it didn’t sound like he would be compensated, but the two had another meeting recently and everything is copacetic between himself and the boss.
“I feel a lot better now,” Ortega said in a backstage interview at a Legacy Fighting Alliance show Friday. “The heartbreak was a little bit real at first and then once I started to realize the bigger picture and everything and I had to put my ego aside and put my thinking cap on in terms of business-wise. We made the right decision. Talked to Dana just the other day and everything’s good between me and him, he compensated me — we reached an agreement.”
It’s unclear what portion of Ortega’s contracted purse he received.
Ortega reiterated that it didn’t make sense for him to fight Stephens under the circumstances, given that Ortega’s last three wins came against fighters that have beaten Stephens. There were reports that the Stephens fight would have been for an interim title, but Ortega sounds like he’s focused on the undisputed belt.
Though he’s open to other opponents, his desire is to see Holloway have a full recovery so that he can continue his career and the two can finally face off in the Octagon.
“Any fight for the title, that’s it. That’s all I’m looking at. I’m just looking at that gold, that belt,” Ortega said.
“Other than that, it really doesn’t matter the opponent, it doesn’t matter if you call it on one day, two days, it’s never been an issue, but the belt’s what I want and I’m going to wait for it and pray that Max gets better so we can give the fight fans the fight that you guys want to see because I know that we missed out for you guys on Saturday at UFC 226, but we’ll make up for it.”
See the full interview below: