Brian Ortega Makes First Public Statement On UFC 303 Fight Day Cancellation: ‘I Dared To Do Something Crazy…’ 

Two-time UFC featherweight title challenger Brian Ortega has broken his silence on the same-day fight cancellation that saw him not compete at T-Mobile Arena this past weekend.

After a successful comeback from injury in Mexico this past February, where he avenged his 2022 setback to Yair Rodríguez by way of submission, Ortega began preparing for a divisional switch.

With opportunities limited at featherweight, “T-City” set his sights on the lightweight shark tank. But when last Saturday’s UFC 303 pay-per-view fell into crisis, Ortega agreed to be one of those saving the day, accepting an extremely late-notice co-main event against Diego Lopes.

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Despite Ortega’s prep for the 155-pound weight class, the bout was set for featherweight. But that changed on weigh-in day when it was revealed that the longtime contender couldn’t get lower than 151 pounds.

While that left Lopes weighing in at lightweight having already cut down to the originally planned weight, the Mexico-based Brazilian was on the scales again just hours before making the walk after Ortega was forced to withdraw through injury and replaced by Dan Ige.

Now close to a week on, “T-City” has spoken out and addressed the difficult circumstances that led to his late pullout…

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Ortega Accepted Fight 32 Pounds Above The Limit, Vows To ‘Make This Right’ By Lopes

In a lengthy statement posted on Instagram, Ortega admitted he “felt off” throughout fight week — something UFC CEO Dana White noted during his appearance at the press conference post-event on Saturday night.

The featherweight veteran also revealed that he agreed to the short-notice assignment 32 pounds over the featherweight limit, leaving many questioning why he and his team accepted a 145-pound clash.

“Come fight week I felt off and I didn’t feel right, I thought it was just the residual effects from the cut. I was 178 lb when I accepted this fight on 15 days notice,” Ortega wrote. “Thursday night after 7 straight hours, I could not break 151 lb. Later, I would find out that I was battling a fever and I could not break into the final 5 lbs as my body started to shut down. Rather than risking huge health consequences and possibly calling the fight off, thankfully we were able to move the weight to 155.

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“At weigh ins, I still felt off but I was sure it would go away after I rehydrated and ate Later on that night I still felt off and was suffering from cold sweats and no sleep. Finally, I fell asleep at 6 am Saturday morning and woke up at 1 pm hoping to feel better. I could not keep any food or water down nor could I stand up to use the restroom,” Ortega continued. “I struggled with my own ego, got on a call with Tiki and Hunter, and I made the decision to call off the fight. I dared to do something crazy for the love of fighting, but I got sick and my body gave out on me.”

Ortega concluded by also making note of the tumultuous two-day period that Lopes went through, culminating in the rising featherweight facing and defeating Ige on just a few hours’ notice.

“T-City” vowed to “make things right” by the Mexico-based Brazilian.

“Diego Lopes I can only imagine what went off on your side, you have nothing but my respect and I’ll talk to Hunter and Tiki and make this right by you,” Ortega stated. “To the UFC, Dana, Hunter, and the fans, thank you for having my back.”

It remains to be seen how Ortega will do that, but perhaps accepting a rescheduled showdown with the 29-year-old at the Sphere-held Noche UFC event on September 14 could be a start.