Brian Ortega Observes Different Volkanovski in UFC 298 Bout

Brian Ortega had a front-row seat to Alexander Volkanovski’s peak performance. But when Volkanovski handed over the title to Ilia Topuria at UFC 298, Ortega was left wondering. Was Volkanovski really at his best that day?

Ortega faced Volkanovski back in September 2021 during UFC 266. It was a brutal five-round fight for the featherweight title. Despite Ortega taking more than 200 significant strikes, he put Volkanovski in real danger with submission attempts in the third and fourth rounds. Sadly for Ortega, neither attempt secured him the win, allowing Volkanovski to clinch a clear victory on the scorecards.

Then came UFC 298. Volkanovski’s reign came to an abrupt end. He was doing well, winning the first round according to all three scorecards. But then, a right hook from Topuria just 3:32 into Round 2 marked the beginning of a new era at 145 pounds.

Ortega tipped his hat to Ilia. “Props to Ilia. He won. That KO was devastating,” Ortega remarked during the media day before UFC Mexico City. He pondered over Volkanovski’s performance, noting, “It didn’t seem like the same Volk. He was moving different. But, he adjusts for every opponent, so who knows?”

Now, Ortega’s gearing up for his first fight since a shoulder injury cut short his bout against Yair Rodriguez. That fight, which ended just 4:11 into Round 1 at UFC on ABC 3, left fans wanting more. Ortega and Rodriguez are set to go head-to-head in a five-round co-main event at UFC Fight Night 237 in Mexico City Arena.

“It’s a continuation of that fight,” Ortega said, reflecting on the upcoming match. After a long recovery, discussions with his manager and team confirmed they were ready. “We got into negotiations, and his name popped up. I said, ‘Here we go.'”

Ortega’s been somewhat of a ghost since that injury. But he’s hinted at a #rebirth on social media. He explained this concept during his media session, drawing parallels to the natural rebirth process of an eagle. This process, deeply personal and transformative, involved isolation and facing himself in ways he hadn’t before. It was a painful but necessary journey for Ortega.

He didn’t dive into the specifics of his rebirth process. But he did share that it involved confronting aspects of himself he’d either ignored or numbed. “We either run from it or we numb ourselves with it,” he said, acknowledging the common ways people avoid dealing with personal issues.

As for what’s next in his fighting career, Ortega’s keeping his cards close to his chest. “I’d like to try to be more present,” he said, focusing on taking things one step at a time. He has plans, of course, but prefers to keep them under wraps for now. It’s a new approach for Ortega, one he’s embracing fully as he prepares for the next chapter in his career.

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