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Brian Ortega aiming for Jose Aldo fight this summer, possibly for vacant featherweight title

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Brian Ortega
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Brian Ortega just went through a grueling fight with the featherweight champ, and he’s not planning to take a step back in line.

It’s been almost three months since Ortega’s first loss, a fourth-round TKO via doctor stoppage against Max Holloway in the main event of UFC 231. Heading into that fight with a perfect 14-0 (1 NC) record, “T-City” was viewed as a legitimate threat to dethrone Holloway, but in the end the champion’s striking overwhelmed the resilient Ortega.

Ortega, 28, wants another shot at gold as soon as possible and earlier this month he hinted that he was interested in a fight with Jose Aldo following the featherweight legend’s knockout of Renato Moicano at UFC Fortaleza. On Twitter, Ortega wrote, “Well let’s start negotiating.”

Post-fight, Aldo was asked about the tweet and he said he would be open to fighting any highly-ranked name in the UFC. Ortega is determined to be that name and he suggested that they could fight for a title if Holloway — who is next scheduled to fight Dustin Poirier for an interim lightweight title at UFC 236 on April 13 — decides to make a permanent move up to 155 pounds.

“That’s the only fight I see that makes sense for both of us,” Ortega told MMA Fighting. “We’re at the top, we’re the two guys at the top, No. 1 and No. 2. Everyone else we pretty much beat except the newcomers and this is the fight that makes sense. This is the fight that the fans are gonna want to see and the one thing we have in common is that we both got beat by Max.”

“It’s going to be a great time to fight him and prove who deserves to get the title shot again. And if Max decides to stay up at lightweight then we can make this fight happen for the belt.”

The UFC has given no indication that it plans to strip Holloway of his belt, nor has Holloway said if he plans to stay at lightweight, so several dominoes will have to fall into place before its clear what path Ortega needs to take for another championship opportunity.

What matters is that he’s at least engaged in talks to possibly fight Aldo and ideally it will be a summer meeting.

“It’s up in the air,” Ortega said of the matchup negotiations. “Everyone likes the idea now, it’s just time to make it really official. It’s in progress now, one thing is that all of us like the idea of making the fight actually happen and that’s now what we’re working on.”

“I would love a summer fight,” he continued. “That would be my ultimate goal is to be competing and go out there and show you guys a completely different Brian. Make a nice fight somewhere in the summer.”

Should the Aldo fight not materialize, Ortega understands that there is a bevy of fighters at 145 pounds looking to make a name for themselves, just as he had to do, and what better way to do it than by taking out Ortega himself? He also knows that it’s not personal and though he doesn’t foresee himself fighting anyone besides Aldo next, he expects plenty of callouts to come his way.

“Absolutely,” Ortega said of having a target on his back. “I feel that’s why Renato wants the rematch to kind of say, ‘If I beat him, Brian fought for the title…’ I feel like all these people are trying to call me out, that’s the reason that’s for. They want to take your ranking, they want to take your number. That’s the way this sport works, so I don’t mind that, that’s fine.”