Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans will have to wait a bit longer to witness the return of Brian Ortega.
Initially, Ortega was expected to face “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung in the main event of UFC Busan this weekend in South Korea. However, Ortega was forced to pull from the bout earlier this month with a knee injury. Now, Frankie Edgar will delay his bantamweight debut to step in and face Jung.
Speaking to MMA Fighting, Ortega explained what happened during his training camp that led to the injury. Ortega divulged that his knee got caught against a wall during wrestling practice, which resulted in a tear in his knee.
“It was during wrestling,” Ortega said. “It was a Friday, Thanksgiving Friday or somewhere around there and I went to spar, regular sparring, whatever did everything. I have two fresh guys every two and a half minutes, fourth round I had the second fresh guy and he went for a single leg [takedown] against the wall and I tried to get out of it.
“He hiked it up, my knee stayed against the wall, my ankle went up and I just heard a big old tear. I heard a crazy noise in it and trying to figure out what it was and he thought it was the Velcro from my shin pad. I was like no dude, that was my knee.”
Ortega did as much as he could to test the waters and see if he could push through and still fight. However, the end result was a version of himself operating at about 30 percent of his capabilities. He ultimately decided the best option was to bow out of the contest with Jung.
“The second day I couldn’t walk and I was on crutches. After that, I was like no guys, I have to fight. I have to do this. We’re pretty much like three weeks out. I was like let’s see what we can do,” Ortega said.
“I gave myself a week and then after a week I tried training again and they’re like yeah you’re moving and yeah you’re back but this isn’t you. It’s like a 30 percent you.”
Thankfully, Ortega avoided the need for surgery and is in the process of rehabbing his knee back to full health. He thinks he’ll be done with rehab in about two months and will then be ready to jump back into another training camp.
“I’m doing a lot of rehab,” Ortega said. “I’m already doing things on it. They said two more months of rehab. I’ve been rehabbing everyday. Right now, I’m pretty much doing everything I used to do but around the injury while I’m rehabbing the injury.
“I’m still keeping up my same program. I’m still eating the same things. I’m still working out. I’m still moving. The other day I woke up at 165 [pounds] still. Like my body is ready for war.”
Who would you like to see Ortega fight upon his return from injury?