As this year’s return of The Ultimate Fighter continues, the feud between Ortega and Volkanovski, who are coaching the two teams, seems to become more heated with every week and with every interview.
What started as a fairly respectful title rivalry has grown into a war of words in the lead-up to their expected clash at UFC 266 in September. When the pair do finally lock horns inside the Octagon, the UFC Featherweight Champion will be looking to record his second title defense, having defeated former champ Max Holloway in their rematch last July.
Ortega, meanwhile, will be looking to achieve title glory at the second time of trying. Against Holloway in 2018, “T-City” was bloodied and bruised by the Hawaiian and lost the fight after a doctor stoppage in-between rounds four and five. A dominant victory over The Korean Zombie in 2020 brought the 30-year-old back into the top contender slot.
Ahead of his own meeting with the Australian, Ortega has chimed in on the debate over Volkanovski’s tight decision win over Holloway last year. The fight, which saw the 145-pound champ record a second consecutive victory over Holloway in the space of seven months, ended in a controversial way, with many fans believing that “Blessed” was ‘robbed’.
While speaking with MMA Weekly, Ortega suggested that Volkanovski’s fighting style manipulated the judges.
“Well, I mean, I took things from both sides if you look at it, you know. I look at Max’s – kind of how he kept the same pace and the same routine that he always has. And then I looked at Volkanovski and the different strategies that he did, as in terms of how to win a round, how to manipulate the judges’ right decisions. When it comes to being in there, right, you go in there and how do you win rounds? That’s something that hasn’t been really a big factor for neither Max’s nor my career. We are two people who fight for the finish. And then when you take a guy like Volkanovski who’s a decision fighter, then you go, ‘Okay. This guy is looking for the decision’. If he gets a finish, he’ll take it. But that’s not his go-to.”’
But Ortega did add that it’s important for fighters to adjust their game depending on who they’re inside the cage with. “T-City” said that sometimes it’s crucial to fight smart rather than push for a finish.
“But there’s levels to this game, and you gotta realize you have to dance according to the music. And that’s who you’re fighting, you know. You gotta look at the way they move, the way they fight, and you have to beat the way they fight. Sometimes, it’s possible that you don’t get a finish because you have to fight so smart. It’s such a high-level chess game that you can’t bring that side out of you. That’s why I’ve been looking at other fights outside of my range, talking sh** to other people, and seeing if I can get fights like that,” said Ortega.
Do you think Brian Ortega can dethrone Alexander Volkanovski?