Brian Ortega Discusses Ankle Injury Recovery & Tough First Round at UFC Mexico

Oh boy, Brian Ortega’s night at UFC Fight Night 237 didn’t start with fireworks. Well, not the kind you’d hope for. Right in the thick of his pre-fight hype-up, the guy sprained his ankle. Yep, just hopping around, getting the crowd going, and bam – injury outta nowhere. Not exactly the comeback story you’d script after being away since July 2022.

“Talk about a rough start,” Ortega mused during the post-fight presser. Picture this: Bruce Buffer’s doing his thing, Ortega’s feeling the vibe, jumps, and…ouch. There he was, trying to shake it off while Yair Rodriguez got his intro. “Five rounds to go, and my ankle decides to bail,” he probably thought. Panic? Yeah, it knocked on his door for a sec.

But wait, it gets juicier. Rodriguez lands a left hook early on, sending Ortega to the mat. Ground-and-pound city followed. Somehow, Ortega kept his cool. “Got clipped,” he admitted, “but survived.” Ended up taking Rodriguez down by the end of round one. Adrenaline’s a funny thing, huh?

Fast forward, and Ortega flips the script. He dominates, leading to a tap out from Rodriguez with an arm-triangle choke, just shy of a minute into Round 3. Talk about a comeback, especially after a shoulder injury had him lose to Rodriguez before. Ortega’s resilience? Unmatched. Clean victories might be nice, but in the UFC featherweight division, they’re as rare as a calm day in a hurricane.

Ortega’s been in the deep end since 2017. Main events, co-main events, five-rounders – you name it. “Easy fight? Never heard of it,” he’d say. Max Holloway, Alexander Volkanovski – Ortega’s faced titans. “Give me a name, and I’m there,” he’s always ready to rumble.

Despite a hiatus, Ortega’s win over Rodriguez puts him right back in the mix. Two-time title challenger, and he’s not slowing down. Volkanovski deserves a rematch with Ilia Topuria, sure, but Ortega’s game if Volk opts for a break. “Disrespecting Volk? Not on my watch,” Ortega defends the former champ, hinting he’s ready for whatever comes next.

Before this victory, Ortega talked about a personal rebirth. Facing himself, changing for the better – it’s been a journey. “100 percent, I’m a different fighter,” he says. His dad’s tales of eagles and transformation? Ortega gets it now. It’s about battling your demons, evolving. And boy, has he evolved.

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