After 22 months away from the octagon, Brian Ortega returned with a striking clinic to completely outclass the Korean Zombie on Fight Island this past weekend.
It was widely expected that Ortega would need to get the fight into grappling range and take it to the ground to beat Chan Sung Jung, with the Korean Zombie expected to dominate any sort of striking affair.
However it was Ortega who dominated on the feet, leading with a strong jab and staying largely out of Zombie’s range while mixing in leg kicks and feinting takedowns to completely throw him off his rhythm. ‘T-City’ won every round decisively, out-striking Jung for 25 minutes and shutting down talk that Max Holloway had proven he couldn’t hang at the top of the division.
With the win, Ortega will now face Alex Volkanovski for the featherweight title in the future with both the champ himself and UFC president Dana White confirming that is the plan.
A match-up with Volkanovski is about as interesting a fight that you can make in the featherweight division currently, with both guys extremely talented in all aspects of MMA. Volkanovski has got great wrestling skills and top control while he showed he is more than a capable striker by hanging with Max Holloway in both fights.
He’ll need to be careful against this version of Ortega though, as he looked more than comfortable striking on the feet but also he’s far more dangerous on the ground than Holloway ever has been. If Volkanovski opts to try to throw leg kicks like he did to win the title, then Ortega will look to catch the kick and get a takedown before latching on to the neck for a choke.
The fight will take place likely in the first half of 2021 and is definitely one to be excited for.
Another fight that could happen in the first half of 2021 is Jessica Andrade challenging for the flyweight title. In her division debut, she stopped former challenger Katlyn Chookagian with body shots to get a knockout win for the first time since winning the strawweight title with her infamous slam on Rose Namajunas. She immediately called for a fight with champion Valentina Shevchenko after the fight and it’s something the UFC should seriously consider.
Shevchenko is due to defend her title against Jennifer Maia at UFC 255 next month but she has so far made short work of everyone in the division since it was created. She has beaten everyone she has faced in the UFC except for Amanda Nunes but Andrade poses a different threat than most others have presented her with. The Brazilian has genuine knockout power in her hands but also has an exceptional ground game. She’s a pocket-sized Nunes who will look to close the distance to stop Shevchenko using her kicking game and she has shown she has the strength to pick girls up and slam them regardless of the weight division, something ‘Bullet’ will need to be wary of letting her do.
With the UFC now planning into the new year, two new contenders have emerged for two dominant champions to turn their attentions to.