Brian Ortega Admits Panicking After Rolling Ankle Pre-Fight Against Yair Rodriguez

Brian Ortega suffered a freak fight-ending shoulder injury in his first fight with Yair Rodriguez in July of 2022, and after finally getting healthy enough to compete in a rematch at UFC Fight Night 237 on Saturday night lightning almost struck twice when he accidentally rolled his ankle during his pre-fight introduction.

“Talk about things [being] stacked against me,” Ortega said at the post-fight press conference. “Bruce was introducing me and then I jumped up, and when I landed, I rolled my ankle. I was like, ‘Oh shoot!’ and I looked at my coach and I was like, ‘Bro, this is bad’. And he’s like, ‘don’t you f—king worry about it!’ He was just telling me to get in the zone, it doesn’t matter.

“When they were introducing [Rodriguez], I was trying to flex my ankle like, come on, bro, work. Don’t you dare fail me right now. Like, we got five rounds — it’s not even a regular co-main event. I’d be lying if I said panic didn’t set in for a bit.”

Things went from bad to worse when Rodriguez then went on to hurt Ortega in what would prove to be a rough first round for ‘T-City’.

“Obviously, I started off — right off the bat. I started off, I got clipped and then I paid the price for not being in the zone and focused on what I was supposed to do. I survived it. I think near the end — I don’t even remember, but I think I ended up somehow taking him down at the end of that first. Then I walked back, the adrenaline kicked in and I was like, ‘Alright, there we go’.”

“[The ankle] was hurting and obviously when you’re paying attention to it, it’s hard to really focus on the fight,” continued Ortega. “I was like, ‘dude, this would happen right now. What an idiot! You roll your ankle right now in front of 22,000 people and you have a war with this tough guy in Mexico and everyone’s going for him. Like, come on, bro. I had to fight some demons in there.”

Luckily for Ortega it all worked out in the end, with his heart and determination combined with his high-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enabling him to get Rodriguez to the mat and eventually submit him with an arm-triangle choke early in the third round.

It was a memorable comeback and one that could put Ortega in the title picture, but while he’s happy to fight newly crowned champ Ilia Topuria if the opportunity comes around, he also feels that former long-time kingpin Alexander Volkanovski is ahead of him in the pecking order.

“There’s some questions out there, but obviously, Volk was a great champ. For people to kick him down right now, I find it kind of disrespectful for everything that he’s done. Some things have to play themselves out, and we’ll see.

“But if he decides that he does not want to fight and chill, then I’m more than happy to go to Spain [to fight Topuria].”

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.