Brian Ortega injured, out of UFC Busan main event against ‘Korean Zombie’

Brian Ortega recalls how Max Holloway loss led him to reassess his career and life

UFC featherweight Brian Ortega recalls how his loss to Max Holloway made him go back and reassess his life and career.

When it comes to professional fighting some fighters let a loss in their career define them, very few every get to taste defeat, and some, like Brian Ortega, have used their biggest losses to turn their career around for the best. As he prepares for his main event fight against Yair Rodriguez at UFC on ABC 3 this weekend, Ortega could find himself back in the title picture if victorious.

Although reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski just successfully defended the featherweight title for the fourth consecutive time at UFC 276 earlier this month and is looking to jump up to contend for a second belt at 155 pounds, the winner of Ortega vs Rodriguez could put a halt to those plans. Even more importantly, the champion recently announced he needs surgery to repair a broken thumb and will miss at least 12 weeks of action.

With the champion sidelined, there is an open opportunity for someone to step up and showcase themselves worthy of a title fight opportunity, as well as proving their worth atop the 145-pound division. However, Brian Ortega may not have found himself in this situation if it wasn’t for some deep soul-searching following his first big loss at the top of the sport.

Making an appearance on ‘Unlocking The Cage‘ on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation, Ortega spoke with Jimmy Smith and discussed how his loss to Max Holloway in his first title fight opportunity at UFC 231 in 2018, opened up his eyes in regards to his life and career. That loss to Holloway was the first loss of Ortega’s career, a fight in which he was handled pretty strongly but changed the outlook of himself afterwards. As he continued to build his way to the top, Ortega agreed that he lost his joy and love for what he was doing, and felt at times it became more of a job, until the loss made him reassess.

“It literally happened to me for two years. I was winning. I would fight, I would win and then alright, cool, my job’s done, let me go back to life. I would go back to enjoying my life as I called it and it wasn’t until I lost, then it made me reassess everything. Then when I reassessed that’s when I said ‘Dude, I f***ing suck. I suck, I thought I was good because I was winning. But then I was like these guys at the top, they’re different level, they’re doing other things. What are they doing? What am I missing? I have the skills to be a UFC fighter but I don’t have the skills or the discipline, or the consistency to be at the top. If I got to do that, I have to change a lot of things about my life.”

After looking back at his career path, Ortega recognized that he had to dedicate energy and focus to all aspects of the sport, in doing so, he was able to re-invent himself and upgrade all things around him, including no longer training in a garage.

“After that I was like wrestling exists, Muay Thai exists, I know it sounds stupid but I had no idea none of this existed. I was training in the garage. I would just do a couple mitts, lift weights, wake up, not have no nutrition, pre-workout for breakfast. All the way to the title, that’s what people don’t understand.”

It’s very rare to see a fighter be this open about their career and how a loss helped put everything together after coming up short in his first title fight opportunity. With Yair Rodriguez next to stand across from him in the Octagon, Brian Ortega has the opportunity to once again prove he’s a top contender and worthy title challenger in the UFC’s featherweight division.

author avatar
Mike Pendleton
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his "On The Mic" podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM's Fight Nation. With a special passion for interviewing and talking to the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike's work across his multiple outlets. Follow me on Twitter: @MP2310