Rener Gracie feels that title contender Brian Ortega is already a champion heading into the UFC 231 pay-per-view. He’s slated to challenge Max Holloway for the UFC featherweight title in the headliner of this show.
The reason for this mindset is due to Ortega pulling himself out of a bad situation. For those who may not know, he grew up in the projects of a rough area of Los Angeles. Now, he’s at the top of his game and on the cusp of becoming a UFC champion.
Ortega earned this title shot after he beat former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar at the UFC 222 pay-per-view. Gracie, who is Ortega’s longtime coach, made one thing known while speaking with Luke Thomas on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. That is the fact that the hard part of this journey is over and now he can look forward to his chance.
Brian Ortega Is Already A Champion
“Anyone who knows Brian from that era knows that Brian already won the title,” Gracie said. “To have made it out of the challenges he faced. The difficult circumstances for him and his family that he faced early on and really the life that he lived. Which was not by any means a positive one by conventional standards. For Brian to have made it out of what he was involved with. To now be competing as a professional athlete on the level that he’s competing at. He already won. So for me, I look at this and I’m like, this is all extra.”
Once Ortega was 13 years old, he decided to train Brazilian jiu-jitsu with Gracie and his brother Ryron. Obviously, there’s a lot of history between Ortega and the family. With that said, he believes that with Ortega being in the spot is already a victory in itself.
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“For me, we’re already celebrating,” Gracie said. “Being here is already a victory in itself. And yes, winning the UFC featherweight championship would be phenomenal. Really for Brian. I’m just so excited for him, knowing what he came from that this would be something. So meaningful for him and his family.”