UFC featherweight contender Brian Ortega believes that Yair Rodriguez isn’t the only one capable of securing a title shot in this weekend’s headliner.
On Saturday, the MMA leader heads to Long Island, New York, for a blockbuster UFC Fight Night card. While the likes of Jack Shore, Miesha Tate, and Shane Burgos contribute to the exciting stack of matchups, all eyes will no doubt be on a main event that’s set to produce fireworks.
Taking to the Octagon for a five-round showdown will be top-five 145lbers Ortega and Rodriguez. While “T-City” will look to rebound from his second failed title shot last September, “El Pantera” will also be targeting a return to the win column having come up short against Max Holloway in November.
In recent days, Rodriguez has made it clear that he anticipates a title shot should he defeat Ortega, even claiming that he’s been told as much within the UFC. That’s despite the presence of his fellow #3-ranked featherweight Josh Emmett, who recently told MMA News that he firmly thinks he’s done enough to remain ahead of the Mexican in the championship queue.
But according to Ortega, Rodriguez isn’t the only threat to Emmett’s spot opposite reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski.
Ortega: Only I Put Volkanovski In ‘Trouble’
During a recent interview with MMA Underground’s John Morgan, Ortega assessed the common narrative that the UFC Long Island main event represents a one-sided title eliminator.
After noting that he remains an ever-present at the top of the division despite his UFC 266 setback, “T-City” questioned who else there is to challenge Volkanovski should he emerge victorious this weekend.
“I’m still there (at the top of the division), man. I haven’t gone nowhere. Obviously, I’m not putting anything past him (Rodriguez). I don’t want to think too much about the future yet,” Ortega said. “To me, it’s like, we saw the Max fight already, three times. And then, I don’t know who else is out there? So, I win, I could possibly be right there, ’cause I am right there.”
Ortega also pointed towards his previous meeting with Alexander “The Great” to back up his merit. At UFC 266 in Las Vegas, the Mexican-American featherweight played his part in a FOTY contender, and came memorably close to dethroning the Australian with a pair of third-round chokes.
Having arguably given the champ the most “trouble” that he’s had in his reign to date, Ortega is looking forward to making the necessary adjustments and securing redemption against Volkanovski in a rematch.
“And that’s what I’ve been telling people, (that I’m the only man who had him in trouble),” Ortega said. “I’m not tryna, ‘Hey, promote the fight this way,” but I am to a certain degree. I put him in a lot of trouble.
“I was putting the pressure on even in the fifth. I was backing him up. Third, I gave one of the best third rounds, contention for Fight of the Year. I gave him a crazy run. He had a war with me,” Ortega added. “I had him in a couple chokes, gargling and everything… For sure I would love to run it back with him.”
Would you like to see Brian Ortega challenge for the featherweight title again if he defeats Yair Rodriguez this weekend?