ANAHEIM, Calif. – On TV, Brian Ortega portrayed a fighter whose bond with his team led to success in the UFC octagon.
But behind the scenes of a commercial for Modelo, it felt like Ortega’s world was falling apart.
“It just sucked,” Ortega told MMA Junkie on Saturday.
Ortega most recently was seen in the cage last December when he took on featherweight champion Max Holloway and suffered a brutal stoppage loss. It wasn’t the competitive result that discouraged Ortega. It was certain members of his team whom he said “switched up” on him.
The team members, Ortega said, were people he’d known as long as 15 years, some he considered “father figures.”
“It was crazy, man,” said Ortega, who’s surrounded himself with new team members whose identities he wouldn’t reveal. “A lot of people switched up, who I thought would never switch up. And the people I thought who’d switch up didn’t switch up. It just goes to show you how crazy this is.”
The other challenge, Ortega said, was his physical health. Injury after injury kept him from training, the one thing that would’ve helped lift his spirits after such a big setback.
“Surgeries after surgeries, then having to fix my hand up, then right when I fixed my hand up we did the Modelo commercial, right after that had to come back, fix my nose up, then had to check my other hand, then had to check my foot … it just sucks, man,” Ortega said. “(Fighters are) like birds. If you cut our wings, we’re gonna be miserable. I couldn’t run because of my feet; I couldn’t strike because of my hands; and I couldn’t even do anything because of my nose. So I was just stuck. ‘Like, what do I do with my life right now? For real, what do I do? I don’t know what to do?’”
Ortega kept himself busy by doing work with his charity. Eventually, he healed and went to work building a new team.
“Now we have a solid team, great group of guys to work with,” he said. “I’m learning again, having fun. I feel like last year was just work for the whole year. It was train for Frankie (Edgar), then tried to take the Khabib (Nurmagomedov) fight, then train for Max, then stay ready for a replacement, then from there train again (for Holloway). It was March all the way to December. I don’t even know what happened in 2018. I was just training so much, I got burnt out.”
A six-month suspension is in the rearview mirror for Ortega, who said he’d like to return to the octagon by year’s end. Ortega has been linked to Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez, which was surprising to him, and said several prospective opponents have been “busy” and unable to commit.
A fight against Chan Sung Jung, who called him out, is currently his wish.
“He’s not busy, I’m not busy,” Ortega said. “Let’s (expletive) dance. Plus, you called me out.”
To hear more from Ortega, watch the video above.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Brian Ortega felt his world crumbling after loss to Max Holloway – but it's better now