Brian Ortega nearly retired from MMA in 2015.
Ortega agreed to fight Thiago Tavares on short notice after his UFC debut was overturned following him testing positive for drostanolone which saw him get suspended for nine months and fined $2500. Entering the fight, Ortega was the betting underdog and before the two weighed in, Tavares came up to Ortega and thanked him for taking the fight.
“I was broke, used the GST (training classes) money that I got to pay my rent, support my kids and then shit I had no money after that. I’m going into a UFC fight broke as shit,” Ortega said to Spinnin Backfist on Barstool Sports. “I walk in and it’s like cool, this guy a veteran, he’s had 15 fights in the UFC, I’m 15-2 right now, so at that time I was 7-0 or something, I was like damn, f*****g guy is yaked up, buff as f**k, thrid degree black belt, wrestler, Phuket muay Thai, and I was just training with cops. To me, that was the biggest one, man. They threw me in there to basically get killed.
“I remember even at the weigh-ins, he’s like thank you for taking this fight. Like almost like thank you for being an idiot, and a lot of fighters were saying not many people would fight him on two weeks’ notice,” Ortega continued. “Sure enough, we had a war. It was a war, if you haven’t watched that fight, it is for sure a classic, to me it is a classic. In the third round, I finished him and TKO’d him. It took everything out of me, I know you guys see me leave it out there, I left it all out there. I won, put my hands up and I just dropped.”
Not only was it a tough fight, but the stakes were also high for Brian Ortega. If he beat Thiago Tavares he would get a big bump in pay and also start fighting top-ranked opponents. Yet, if he lost he admitted he was going to quit MMA as he wasn’t making enough money to support his family.
“They called me to do a press conference and I was like I’m not even on the main card, I was a prelim, like okay they want me to talk. They then presented me with the bonus and I was like wow,” Ortega said. “To me, I really needed that, I was going to quit if I lost that fight. I was just at the point in my life where I wasn’t making money. I tried to buy some Jordan’s and I couldn’t afford them, I had 75 dollars ot my name on the day of the fight. Like I have two f*****g kids, like what the f**k am I doing. And, that night it went from daytime 75 dollars to nighttime 75K.”
After the win, Brian Ortega rallied off five more wins to earn a title shot against Max Holloway. He then lost to Holloway but beat Korean Zombie to get another title shot but once again came up short as he dropped a decision to Alexander Volkanovski. He will now headline UFC Long Island against Yair Rodriguez.
What do you make of this story from Brian Ortega?