It’s been a long time coming but Brian Ortega has the chance to fulfil his destiny and become the king of the featherweight division this weekend at UFC 266.
A long awaited title fight between Ortega and defending champion Alexander Volkanovski will headline the card in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile Arena, six months after their initial bout was cancelled due to a positive COVID test.
But the six month delay has only added to the idea of destiny in T-City’s mind and it’s difficult to argue against his thought process.
When Ortega last had a title shot, he went into the fight against Max Holloway as the favourite. In December 2018, Ortega was an undefeated phenom with submissions and knockouts scattered throughout his fight resumé.
But as he found out in that fight, there was a very big difference in skill level between himself and the champion at the time.
Ortega was pummelled for four full rounds, with the Hawaiian boxing his face off. It was so bad that not only did Holloway talk to him throughout the fight, ‘Blessed’ also helped him block strikes in the cage and then even called the finish before the round in which the doctor eventually called a halt to the bout.
He took almost two years out to hone his skillset after that, mastering his craft and becoming a much more polished striker.
He took on The Korean Zombie on Fight Island a year ago and while many expected him to try and get his opponent to the ground, with a significant striking advantage for Jung. However instead what was transpired was a boxing masterclass from Ortega on the night and a dominant decision win.
It showed that in those two years away that the work he had been doing was justified. With Volkanovski holding two wins over Holloway, albeit one is controversial, Ortega now is the man who is seemingly the biggest threat to his throne.
Volkanovski’s best moments in the UFC have come with his ground game, using his wrestling to dominate opponents and his striking to do damage. But if he takes the fight to the ground against Ortega he’s entering a world of danger and with Ortega’s improved striking, Holloway might be the only guy that can out-box him.
Many tipped Ortega as a future champion when he broke into the scene but his first chance came too early against one of the greatest of all-time. UFC 266 may be the perfect moment for him to fulfil his destiny and become the best in the world.