Undefeated featherweight contender Brian Ortega knows his facing one of the world’s absolute best fighters on Saturday night. He just wants a chance to face another shortly after.
Ahead of their UFC 231 headlining clash in Toronto, Ortega (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) is quick to point out his level of respect for current featherweight champion Max Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC). But he also admits his longterm plan includes a win over “Blessed” and a future meeting with fellow grappling ace and current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov (27-0 MMA, 11-0 UFC).
“This is a matchup where our hands are both good,” Ortega told reporters, including MMAjunkie, at a Monday media lunch in Los Angeles. “He’s a top-game guy and a wrestler, and I’m a bottom-game guy, and I’m a jiu-jitsu guy. I’d watch.”
Ortega has mentioned a possible matchup with Nurmagomedov in the past, and it’s easy to see why it would be such an intriguing affair. Ortega’s jiu-jitsu game is off the charts, while Nurmagomedov’s wrestling-based pressure game is the stuff of nightmares.
But Ortega said watching Nurmagomedov dismantle Conor McGregor at October’s UFC 229 made him realize it’s a fight that needs to happen.
“I was watching a lot of things in that fight, where if I was in that position, I was like, ‘There’s a lot of things I would be doing differently,’ and that kind of just made me realize what I want as a superfight, if I ever get there – and it’s within reach,” Ortega said. “If I play my cards right, it’s within reach.”
In fact, if Ortega is successful in unseating Holloway on Saturday, he wants his reign as champion to be filled with superfights. “T-City” insists it has nothing to do with any issues making 145 pounds – though he admits dropping to 135 probably isn’t going to happen. That said, Ortega said he just wants the biggest challenges available – the type of fights that fans can easily see going either way.
“I’ve got these ideas that I want to go for, and if I’m successful, then hopefully I can start asking Dana White for them,” Ortega said. “It’s the superfights. Because when you look at it, you go, ‘OK, the champions are good.’ You become a champion and you do this, and then you look at it, and some of these guys that make superfights, even you, you’re like, ‘Damn, I wish I was a part of that fight.’
“I like superfights. I want superfights. I want guys that I can match up well, where people don’t know what’s going to happen. Like whether the title was here or not, I feel like this (fight with Holloway) is a superfight.”
To be clear, Ortega says he’s not trying to bail on the featherweight division. In fact, he sees guys like Renato Moicano, Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez all as interesting future challengers. He also knows overlooking Holloway, another young stud currently in his physical prime, would be a huge mistake.
But Ortega believes the future will bring with it great challenges – and great opportunities.
“I feel like it’s my destiny,” Ortega said. “I feel like everything is coming together, and I feel like there’s bigger things also ahead. I get this weird feeling that there’s bigger things to do still, and I can’t wait to figure it out.”
First, though, comes UFC 231. Ortega hasn’t tasted defeat yet in his professional career, and he isn’t planning on starting now.
It’s time to tick one superfight off the list and start lining up the other.
“I’m not picky; I’ll get it how I can take it,” Ortega said. “Submission, KO – whatever it is, if it has me winning, I’ll take it. If I’ve got to break an arm in there and then swing it and I still win, I’ll do it. That’s how badly I want to win.”
To hear more from Ortega, check out the video above.
- Video: Watch Brian Ortega's full media lunch interview ahead of UFC 231
- 'UFC 231 Embedded,' No. 1: Pre-fight tacos, courtesy of the Brain
- MMAjunkie's 'Knockout of the Month' for November: A stunning elbow from an impossible angle
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Brian Ortega not looking past Max Holloway but sure would like a shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov