Las Vegas, NV — Brian Ortega has been here before. In a fight week, booked into a championship fight.
Last time, he came up short, against Max Holloway. That led to major changes for “T-City.”
“I’ve changed everything about my life, down to the way I live, to the way I eat, to the way I train, the people who are in my corner. Everything is new. New and improved, right?” Ortega (15-1, 1NC) said during this week’s UFC 266 media day. Ortega has his second shot at gold Saturday, this time against Alexander Volkanovski.
“Only thing you can do after a loss is see if you can get better. Can you pick yourself up? That’s what I did,” Ortega continued. “That’s the journey. You fight, you win or you fight and you lose. And then you get there and you either get better or you get worse. And if you get worse, then you’ve got to keep getting better. That’s the sport that we’re in.”
The fight with Volkanovski has been a long time coming, as has Ortega’s opportunity to hit the man. The pair coached opposite one another on The Ultimate Fighter 29, and had their fight pushed back when Volkanovski contracted COVID-19.
“It’s been a long time. We’ve been at this all year. Literally all year,” Ortega said of the build-up, admitting that he was taken aback by how easily he got under Volkanovski’s skin while on TUF. “I was surprised, bro. I was like ‘what the f*ck did I do? Alright, I showed up late, relax. I don’t know if someone’s telling him to build the fight or try to do something, but I feel like he’s doing a horrible job at it. Just stop. Just be you, bro. You’ve never done this before.”
Volkanovski has been vocal about his dislike of Ortega being habitually late, which was noticeable on the reality show. Ortega also admits that perhaps he just gets under the champ’s skin — and he may try to use that to his advantage. “If I can poke the bear in there, I will.”
Ortega’s striking has come a long way since he first entered the UFC as a fighter best known for his jiu-jitsu. You might be surprised by how he’s refined it: social media.
“There’s definitely people who I look at, and I’ll be honest with you, I have no idea who their names are. I follow pages on Instagram, right?” he told Cageside Press on Wednesday. “And then you see Moves of the Day, or Techniques of the Day, or fights, or little things like that, you go ‘hey you know what? that doesn’t seem too far-fetched.’ I can do that. And I’ll go in there and I’ll make it happen, I’ll go ‘oh sh*t, okay, that works.’ I pick up things from watching, I’m a visual learner.”
Watch the full UFC 266 media day appearance from Brian Ortega above. More coverage from the event can be found below.