Brian Ortega made some drastic changes to his fight preparation after suffering his first career defeat.
“T-City’s” career as a professional fighter got off to about as hot of a start as one could dream of. Winning his way to a title shot with a flawless 14-0 record, Ortega found himself set to take on the reigning champion, Max Holloway, on Dec. 2018.
The featherweight showdown was one of the most anticipated matchups of the year across the whole sport, if not the most anticipated. Unfortunately for Ortega, it wound up being nothing more than one of the champion’s best career displays at the time. Beating Ortega to the point of unforgettably teaching him defensive tactics mid-fight, “Blessed” picked up the TKO victory and his second title defense after the doctors stopped the action ahead of the fifth round.
For Ortega, this was a critical moment that led him to take nearly two full years off from competition to re-evaluate and grow.
“It happened to me,” Ortega said of losing the joy for fighting when speaking on Fight Nation with Jimmy Smith. “It literally happened to me — I want to say for two years. And I was winning, I would fight and I would win, and I was just like, ‘Alright, cool. My job is done. Let me go back to life. I want to go eat Jack In The Box, I want to go eat this, I want to go on vacation, I want to go surfing, I want to be a beach bum.’
“I would go back to enjoying my life as I called it and it wasn’t until I lost then it made me reassess everything. When I reassessed everything is when I said, ‘Dude, I f****** suck. Like, I suck. I thought I was good because I was winning but then these guys at the top, they’re a different level. They’re doing other things. What’re they doing? What am I missing? I have the skills to be a UFC fighter but I don’t have the skills nor the discipline or consistency to be at the top. And if I gotta do that, I gotta change a lot of things about my life.’”
Once Ortega returned to action, he looked completely reinvented ... and not just because he shaved his head before the comeback appearance.
Tasked with a fellow former title challenger, “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, Ortega — one of the best submission specialists on the planet — put on a striking clinic. Battering “Zombie” for five straight rounds, Ortega was back in the win column via unanimous decision and ultimately earned another crack at gold.
Looking to rebound again for just the second time in his 18-fight career, Ortega headlines opposite Yair Rodriguez this Saturday night at UFC Long Island.
“After that [Holloway loss], I said, ‘Oh, wow, there’s — wrestling exists. Muay Thai exists,’” Ortega said. “I know it sounds stupid, but I had no idea none of this existed. I was training in a garage. I would just hit the bag, do a couple mitts, lift some weights, wake up. Not have no nutrition, pre-workout for breakfast. All the way until the title, that’s what people don’t understand.”
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Just keep swimming.
Big win today Doctor said my 2 month post Op ACL looks and feels like a 5 month post Op. aggressive rehab and positive thoughts working, back in the octagon sooon !— Casey Oneill (@kingcaseymma) July 12, 2022
After 2-3 years out due to off and on injuries I am finally healthy and ready to get back in there. @Aiemannzahabi I would love to get the in the cage with you and get that one back for my boy and our team. You busy in Sept/Oct? @seanshelby @ufc— Benito Lopez (@Savage_530) July 12, 2022
Find a way.
Now that’s a green room.
It’s a family affair.
Strength in support.
everything you need to know about grappling in 3 seconds pic.twitter.com/MKEXUKgn1R— freelancegoon (@freelancegoon2) July 12, 2022
Live it up, Darren.
Back in shape.
Ppl are weird asf— Kay Hansen (@KayHansenMMA) July 12, 2022
The facts are the facts. Conor should have learned from his boss Dana White that I’m not the one to play with it. Dana been hiding from me since last year. pic.twitter.com/y9wbMhmWIs— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) July 12, 2022
Lucky Lauren, indeed.
Good to see that Till is still enjoying himself. Thanks for reading!
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