Over the past couple of years, the UFC has seen several changing of the guards. Champions of the past era are aging out, and a new cream of talent is rising to the top at almost every event. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the featherweight division.
At UFC 212, Max Holloway dethroned longtime featherweight king Jose Aldo to initiate a generational shift in the division and a passing of the torch. Holloway then confirmed his coronation atop the division with another victory over Aldo in the rematch at UFC 218.
The 26-year old Holloway may be the present and future of the division, but only if he can get through the roadblock that is No.1 contender Brian Ortega at UFC 231. The 27-year old Ortega will look to usurp the younger, but more experienced, champion and carry the featherweight division, and belt, into 2019 with him.
If you want to see Ortega fight for the belt, you can get an Official Ticket Package to UFC 231 right now through the UFC VIP Experience.
Origins of T-City
If you've seen Brian Ortega fight in The Octagon®, you've heard Bruce Buffer scream to the masses: "Brian 'T-CITY' Ortega"!
And every time you hear Ortega's nickname, you wonder what it stands for.
Well, T-City, while a silly name on its own, carries a lot of Ortega's history with it.
The Los Angeles-born Ortega got his start in mixed martial arts at just five years old, but his game didn't reach new levels until he started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with the Gracie family at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy when he was 13 years old.
Under the tutelage of the most prestigious mixed martial arts family of all time, Ortega became a BJJ specialist and began training under a boxing coach before making his professional debut.
And this is where 'T-City' comes into play. As an homage to his BJJ upbringing and background, Ortega inherited the nickname, which stands for 'Triangle City'. And if you're keeping count, four of Ortega's 14 career victories have come by way of triangle choke.
Unbeaten UFC Run
For most unbeaten fighters that enter the UFC, reality hits once they are pitted against fellow elite fighters in the top promotion in the world. Early losses in the UFC are normally proving grounds for younger fighters as they learn how to battle through adversity for the first time in their career.
And then there are fighters like Ortega, who step into the UFC and only look more impressive than they did before. Ortega was signed in 2014 after an 8-0 start to his professional career, and ran through his early competition in the promotion.
Ortega went 4-0 (1 NC) in his first five fights with the UFC, with all four victories coming by finish. Those performances, which includes two Fight of the Night honors, earned him a main event spot against Cub Swanson at UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Ortega on December 9, 2017.
The bout with Swanson put Ortega on the map as a serious title contender after he finished the long-time veteran via guillotine choke. With the submission win, Ortega earned Performance of the Night and Fight of the Night honors, plus a spot in the top five rankings within the featherweight division.
The Knockout that Changed Everything
Going into his bout against Frankie Edgar at UFC 222, some already believed that Ortega was worthy of a featherweight title shot. He was not only beating, but finishing the top competition that the division had to offer, and his resume looked primed for gold.
But Ortega was given the spot to fight former lightweight champion and UFC veteran Frankie Edgar at the start of 2018, and the chance to conquer one of the biggest names en route to a title shot was too appetizing a proposition to pass up.
With a potential title shot and his undefeated record on the line, Ortega stepped into the cage with a man who had never been finished before in his career.
Feared for his intense BJJ game, 'T-City' switched up the pace on Edgar and decided to trade strikes with him throughout the first round. What looked like an even sparring back and forth turned on its head when Ortega connected on a vicious right uppercut to Edgar's chin, dropping his opponent. The ref quickly jumped between the two, declaring a knockout win for Ortega and handing Edgar his first ever finish.
With Edgar still at the top of his game, Ortega's ability to knock out the former champ only cemented his place at the top of the division.
SEE Brian Ortega AT UFC 231
Be in Toronto on December 8 with an Official Ticket Package from the UFC VIP Experience. As a VIP, you get access to the weigh-ins, fighter meet & greets, our hospitality area and much more! In fact, Brian Ortega has been a guest in our hospitality on multiple occasions. Who knows, you might just hang out with the next great title contender!