On This Day: Volkanovski vs Ortega

On the 25th of September 2021, which is exactly 2 years ago to this day, Alexander Volkanovski was fresh off of two back to back classics with Max Holloway, and a lot of casual fans were still struggling to warm up to him. After all, he did just get the nod in a close decision against one of the biggest fan favourites of the sport, and the screams of “robbery!” were already flooding every fighting fans feed.

With Volk winning the championship from Max in the first fight, the rematch was Volkanovski’s first defence as featherweight king, and after securing the win against Holloway a second time; he moved on to the other contenders that had been waiting in the wings ever since Alexander The Great snatched undisputed gold at UFC 245.

One of those contenders, was Brian “T City”Ortega. A dangerous featherweight with KO ability and a high level black belt under Rener Gracie. A legitimate threat on the feet and an absolute killer on the mat.

Ortega had been riding a 14 fight undefeated win streak that would see him shoot into the UFC Featherweight rankings, securing finishes over fighters Diego Brandao, Clay Guida, Big Money Moicano, Cub Swanson, in a fight that made me extremely sad, and finally being the first man to finish UFC Future Hall of Famer Frankie Edgar with a beautiful uppercut.

Ortega would then get a title shot at champ Max Holloway, and would unfortunately come up short after taking a beating from Max so bad that the doc’ had to stop it.

Brian would then take almost 2 years away from the sport, and would return against The Korean Zombie, sporting a brand new look and a brand new energy. He really seemed like he was about to come back in a big way.

Ortega would secure the decision win over TKZ and look improved on the feet whilst doing so; which was ultimately the main weakness of his in the Holloway fight.

In the background of all of this, Holloway would defend his belt next against Volk, and as I stated before, would lose twice to him back to back.

The UFC booked Volkanovski vs Ortega for UFC 266 and the two men would also be coaching the next season of TUF to hype the fight up. I personally didn’t watch that season of TUF, but I did see all of the standard promotion leading up to the fight. Both men were just excited to get out there and put on a show, and Volk would finally get a chance to detach himself from the Holloway fights and get a fresh match up.

The first round started and both men were trading leg kicks, with Volk landing a clean right hand that cut Ortega and a couple of thudding left hooks. As the round was coming to a close, Volk leaned back to slip a shot and was caught off balance by a solid left hand from Ortega, both men trade a couple more leg kicks and the buzzer sounds.

Round 2 starts and it’s more of the same, Ortega starts the round strong with some powerful leg kicks, as Volk repeatedly looks for the left kick to the liver from orthodox and lands it clean. Ortega finds himself backed up against the cage for most of the round but lands some good shots, although he’s starting to bleed and is getting marched around the cage.

Round 3 starts and Volk catches T City with a leg kick that temporarily sends him stumbling. Big right hand counters over the top from Volk are starting to land. Some nice boxing from Ortega on the back foot, bloodied nose and busted eye, he finds himself against the cage once again, but this time, springs forward as Volk throws a half hearted leg kick, catches the leg with one hand and cracks Volk with the other, sending them both down to the mat and Ortega, in the literal blink of an eye, sinks in a DEEEEP guillotine. Volk went on to say that he would literally let people get him in the deepest guillotines possible in camp, and they still weren’t as deep as the one Ortega locked up. Volk kicked his legs, squirmed and never let Ortega settle, and after being choked for 17 straight seconds, Ortega couldn’t finish it and Volk got free. Incredible stuff. This is why he currently sits at #1 on the P4P rankings. Unbelievable composure.

That wasn’t all for round 3 though, as the two men scrambled on the ground, Volk landed a few hard shots to bust Ortega up even more, throwing elbows and hammerfists as T City desperately tried to sway out of the way of danger, and then out of nowhere, he throws his legs up and catches Volk in a triangle, again, DEEEEP. The commentary are literally screaming “he got him!” It was as deep as the guillotine. Volk gets swept to a hip and the choke sinks in even deeper as it looks like Ortega is about to actually steal the belt. The Triangle choke is Brian Ortega’s signature move. His nickname “T City” was given to him by Gracie for his deadly triangles, and Volk escapes again, pissed off, and ready to catch a body. He spends the rest of the round hammering big shots down at a beaten and bloodied Ortega, arms burnt out from two near finish chokes and a nose that he couldn’t breathe out of. He had Volk in his two best submissions and still couldn’t finish him. He was checked out.

Round 4 starts, and Ortega shoots in for the body lock, manages to get Volk down briefly and threaten another guillotine, but again, Volkanovski escapes and finds himself in stacked guard, left and right hands cracking Ortega in the nose, eyes and jaw, stunning him with every other shot. Volk decides to let Ortega up, and it actually takes him a few seconds to get to his feet. Volk lands a few solid shots to close out the rest of the round and the fighters go back to their corners.

Round 5 starts and Ortega looks a little sharper, and it looks like a second wind may be on the cards. Volk lands a few good shots of his own and the men show respect, swinging hard shots at each other and trading more leg kicks. One more big flurry from Ortega and the fight comes to an end. The two men embrace in what would be the Fight of The Night.

Volk by UD. Across all cards, with one round even being scored a 10-8. Good attempt from Ortega, but little did he know, he was in the cage with the future P4P #1 who to this day is still accomplishing things nobody would’ve ever expected.

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