UFC news 2024: Brian Ortega’s surprise Alex Volkanovski and Ilia Topuria call after bizarre injury during Yair Rodriguez win

UFC news 2024: Brian Ortega’s surprise Alex Volkanovski and Ilia Topuria call after bizarre injury during Yair Rodriguez win


Brian Ortega has taken the surprising step of saying he’s willing to wait for Alex Volkanovski to rematch Ilia Topuria, rather than demand an immediate title shot following his win over Yair Rodriguez this weekend.

Ortega fought through a bizarre pre-fight ankle injury to score a brave third round submission win over Rodriguez in Mexico City.

If hometown hero Rodriguez had won, he would have likely been propelled into a title fight with Topuria later this year.

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That fight could be in Spain, with UFC president Dana White confirming the company is already planning on making its debut there following Topuria’s win over Volkanovski.

Coming off back-to-back losses, Ortega’s future isn’t as clear, but the long-time elite featherweight says he’s willing to wait for Volkanovski to return before thinking about fighting Topuria.

“Volk was a great champ and for people to kick him while he’s down right now, I find it kind’ve disrespectful for everything that he’s done,” Ortega said after his gutsy win over Rodriguez.

“But if he decides that he doesn’t want to fight and he wants to chill, then I’m more than happy to go to Spain.”

Volkanovski called for a rematch immediately after his loss to Topuria, saying his dominance as champion and his willingness to step in on late notice and save UFC 294 by fighting Islam Makhachev at lightweight, means he deserves an immediate rematch.

Ortega’s win on the weekend only adds to Volkanovski’s argument.

With back-to-back defeats, Rodriguez is out of the title picture for now.

Meanwhile Max Holloway is fighting Justin Gaethje at lightweight for the BMF title at UFC 300.

Ortega’s win was impressive, but prior to that he’d lost twice in a row, including his 2021 title fight loss to Volkanovski.

Excluding Volk, Movsar Evloev is the next highest ranked featherweight, and is a star on the rise, but has hardly set the world alight with eight consecutive decision wins in the UFC.

Arnold Allen and Josh Emmett are both top 10 featherweights, but are either coming off losses or rebuilding their title credentials.

Aljamain Sterling could also be an option, with the former bantamweight champion moving up to 145-pounds to take on Calvin Kattar at UFC 300.

Sterling had even been eyeing up a title fight with Volkanovski in Australia later this year if the Aussie had beaten Topuria.

Ortega’s night nearly came undone before his fight with Rodriguez even started. While Bruce Buffer was introducing him to the Mexico City crowd, Ortega jumped in the air, and twisted his ankle when he landed.

He was nearly knocked out in the first round, but rebounded in the second and choked out ‘El Pantera’ in the third.

“I jumped up and when I landed I rolled my ankle,” Ortega said. “I looked at my coach and was like, ‘Bro, this is bad’ and he was just telling me to get in the zone.

“When they were introducing him (Rodriguez), I was trying to flex my ankle, going, ‘Come on, bro, work, don’t you fail me right now, we’ve got five rounds’.

“I’d be lying if I said panic didn’t set in for a bit.

“What an idiot. You roll your ankle in front of 22,000 people and you’re in Mexico and everyone’s going for him.

“I fought some demons in there.”

The win was Ortega’s first since October 2020, with the American losing a one-sided title fight to Volkanovski the following year.


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