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Morning Report: Brian Ortega responds to Ilia Topuria’s callout: ‘I’ll gladly humble someone if I have to’

UFC Fight Night: Ortega v Rodriguez Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Brian Ortega is a wanted man in the talent-rich UFC featherweight division.

Once unbeaten in 14 straight bouts and touted as one of MMA’s most dangerous submission artists, Ortega’s been unluckier than he’d prefer in recent years. “T-City” earned his first career title shot in December 2018, facing Max Holloway in one of the year’s most anticipated matchups. Unfortunately for him, Ortega found himself at the end of a vintage “Blessed” masterclass, losing via fourth-round TKO after a doctor’s stoppage between rounds.

Ortega, 32, has gone 1-2 in appearances post-Holloway, riding a two-fight skid at present. This past July, the Los Angeles native fell to Yair Rodriguez at UFC Long Island after suffering a first-round TKO thanks to a shoulder injury. The two-time title challenger still isn’t at 100 percent and has three weeks to a month left before he’s able to train at maximum capacity. In the meantime, Ortega’s been hearing the noise from rising contenders like Ilia Topuria, who made it clear he wants that fight next after an impressive submission of Bryce Mitchell in December.

“I see people like Topuria calling me out constantly,” Ortega told The Schmo. “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***. Let me get back to training and then that’s it.

“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. 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.”

Like Ortega once was, Topuria is red-hot in his undefeated 13-fight career and positioned at No. 9 in the official UFC rankings. Ortega may know something the public doesn’t in regard to Topuria’s immediate future as no upcoming bookings for the Georgian have been officially announced.

The featherweight division hasn’t lost any steam despite the titleholder Alexander Volkanovski losing his last fight in a February champion vs. champion clash with lightweight’s Islam Makhachev. “The Great” wants his rematch with Makhachev after losing a closely contested unanimous decision, but on that same night at UFC 284, an interim 145-pound champion was crowned in the form of the aforementioned Rodriguez. Having experience against both men, Ortega is excited to see how things play out at the division’s peak.

“I think Volkanovski deserves both,” Ortega said. “I would love to see him run it back with Islam and if that doesn’t happen then he obviously has that defense against Yair and that fight happens. The featherweight division is stacked right now.

“I think most likely it’ll be ‘Volk’ [who wins]. If I had to take like a just right off the bat educated guess on who it would be, it would be ‘Volk.’”


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I mean, true.



A fight probably.







Full bloom.






Sit down.


Ignacio Bahamondes (13-4) vs. Trey Ogden (16-5); UFC 287, April 8

Liana Pirosin (8-5) vs. Elise Pone (); Invicta FC 53, May 3

Elisandra Ferreira (5-2) vs. Flor Hernandez (4-0); Invicta FC 53, May 3

Natalie Salcedo (1-0) vs. Dayane Cristine (1-0); Invicta FC 53, May 3

Tim Means (32-14-1, 1 NC) vs. Alex Morono (22-8, 1 NC); UFC Fight Night, May 13

Carlos Ulberg (8-1) vs. Ihor Potieira (20-3); UFC Fight Night, May 13

Diana Belbita (14-7) vs. Maria Oliveira (13-6); UFC 289, June 10


I think a fight with Josh Emmett is perfect matchmaking for Ortega’s return bout. I’d love to see the Topuria matchup be made though.

Thanks for reading!



Who should Ortega fight next?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Max Holloway vs. Arnold Allen winner
    (19 votes)
  • 11%
    Max Holloway vs. Arnold Allen loser
    (65 votes)
  • 25%
    Josh Emmett
    (141 votes)
  • 2%
    Chan Sung Jung (2)
    (15 votes)
  • 16%
    Calvin Kattar
    (95 votes)
  • 7%
    Giga Chikadze
    (43 votes)
  • 27%
    Ilia Topuria
    (153 votes)
  • 2%
    Movsar Evloev
    (14 votes)
  • 2%
    (14 votes)
559 votes total Vote Now

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