Brian Ortega has shed some light on the wild UFC 226 fight week that he had including a meeting with UFC President Dana White.
It was a wild week so let’s break it down, Ortega was originally slated to challenge Max Holloway for the featherweight title in the co-main event of the UFC 226 pay-per-view event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada but things went south once it was revealed that Holloway had to pull out of the fight after he had been experiencing concussion-like symptoms and was taken to a hospital.
This was supposed to be a big event for the Las Vegas-based promotion and thus, they tried to save the co-main event as they wanted to have Ortega fight a replacement opponent, which ultimately led to the UFC President trying to get Jeremy Stephens to fill-in on short notice and fight Ortega in the co-headliner slot.
However, Ortega turned down the fight and decided to wait for Holloway to get healthy enough in order to make this fight happen, which led to some people criticizing Ortega for this decision while others can understand his reasoning behind it.
“All of [my team] were on the same page,” Ortega recently told Brendan Schaub on Below the Belt (transcript courtesy of MMAFighting). “It never happened in the history of our team. It’s always like [one guys says] ‘I think you should take it,’ [another guy says] ‘No, you’re stupid!’ and then it’s this thing and we finally come to an agreement. This time, I walked in the room and everyone was on the same page. . .
[So], we talked to Dana and he was pretty pissed off. He was just in a bad mood, a fight fell through, DC just fell, and then he walks in this meeting. So I tell him, ‘Hey, I’m not gonna fight.’ I’m holding my ground. ‘Listen, with all due respect, I stepped in and fought [Thiago] Tavares on two weeks’ notice, I stepped in and I fought Frankie on three weeks’ notice, and I stepped in and tried to fight Khabib [Nurmagomedov] on six days’ notice. It’s not a scared issued, it’s not that I’m not down for the company. I finished everyone you told me to, every single person you put in front of me, I took their heads off and, like Conor [McGregor] says, I put them on your f**king doorstep. That earned me a title shot and now that I’m here, why go anywhere else besides forward?”
Ortega was in a bad spot as the UFC looks at what fighters do for them lately instead of the course of their careers which is a shame that didn’t go over well with the title contender as he noted in this interview that he tried to argue with White over his pay for the event as he had already trained for it and White wasn’t interested in anything but getting his way.
“[Dana] put on his promoter hat and is like, ‘Listen man, just fight, we’ll work something out,’ and I was like, ‘We don’t need to work anything out. I want Max Holloway or I want the belt.’ [Dana says] ‘Well, we’ll see if we can do an interim belt.’ I’m not fighting for a fake belt. It looks cool but it’s not the real belt. There’s no real money involved with that one. Nothing really goes on in terms of being a champion. You just get something that says, ‘I’m first place.’ It just says I’m next in line for the belt but I’m already here! You just want to put something shiny around my waist to make me feel better. No, I’m not gonna do it.
“I showed up, I was cutting weight, I did all the media, even the media in Spanish. I had to do double the work and do all that in Spanish. Every fighter left and I’m still stuck there doing everything in Spanish. I showed I was a company man. I was down to promote the hell out of this fight, I took extra hours while I’m hungry, starving, to keep doing media. I showed up. Don’t you think that’s worth something? Even if I didn’t take the fight, I did my end of the deal. Then they came back and said ‘Well our deal is to find you a fight and we found you a fight and you turned it down. I did my job, you didn’t do yours. Your job is to show up and fight.’”
“I want the belt, I don’t care who has it,” Ortega concluded. “If Max Holloway can’t fight for another six months to a year, that means that would be a full year that he hasn’t defended the title, which means the rules say you’ve got to strip him. I want to fight soon. If he can’t fight, let’s keep fighting. If he can’t fight for awhile, then give me a title fight. It doesn’t matter [against who]. I don’t care. It’s never been about an opponent. I don’t care who it is. Just throw them in front of me and let me do what I have to do. Let me earn the belt.”
Once Holloway is cleared to fight once again, the promotion will book Ortega against the champion for the featherweight title but the only problem with that is due to the fact that we don’t know when that will happen. Most likely later this year but it will be interesting to see if Ortega stays true to his word and waits it out that way he can fight for the strap.