Saturday’s UFC Long Island main event ended in less than a round after Ortega’s shoulder appeared to pop out of place during an exchange with Rodriguez, a finish that deflated the crowd at UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y.
An impressive win would likely have vaulted Rodriguez to a title shot against UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski, while Ortega could have put himself in position for a rematch with “The Great,” but the inconclusive outcome appears to have left the door open for another name to step into the picture.
All UFC president Dana White knows for sure is that he was as disappointed as everyone else when Ortega couldn’t continue.
“It sucks,” White said at the evening’s post-fight press conference. “It’s a rough sport and these things happen. But to have such a — and it looked like it was shaping up to be a great fight, so these things happen, what are you going to do? It sucks.”
After the fight, both Rodriguez and Ortega mentioned that they were willing to rematch one another if that is in the UFC’s plans, however White is concerned that Ortega may require treatment for his injury that will take him out of action for the foreseeable future.
“He probably needs shoulder surgery now,” White said. “I had shoulder surgery. It’s a nightmare and it takes a long time to recover from. We’ll see what happens. I’m not even thinking about that right now, but awesome that they both want to do it.”
While Rodriguez waits for his next assignment and Ortega waits for a medical diagnosis, that would appear to leave top contender Josh Emmett as a viable option to challenge Volkanovski for the title.
Emmett climbed to the No. 7 spot in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings after winning a close decision against Calvin Kattar at Austin this past June. That was the fifth straight win for Emmett. His Team Alpha Male head coach Urijah Faber has campaigned heavily for Emmett to receive a title shot, calling it “really bulls***” how the UFC has treated his fighter.
White responded with amusement when asked about Emmett and Faber’s lobbying.
“Every guy thinks it should be their guy, but we’ll see what happens,” White said. “Listen, there’s no doubt Josh is one of the guys.”
Asked if Rodriguez and Emmett could battle for an interim title instead, White agreed that it was possible, especially since he has heard that Volkanovski is undergoing surgery to address a hand injury.
“Volkanovski I think is going to have surgery on his hand,” White said. “I think there’s something wrong with his hand. ... You’re asking if [Rodriguez vs. Emmett for an interim title is] a possibility? I like it. I don’t hate it.”