Brian Ortega has detailed the tense negotiation that took place between himself and Dana White after his featherweight title fight with Max Holloway at UFC 226 fell through at the lat minute.
The title contender reveals that White wanted him to take a short notice fight, but Ortega indciated he wouldn’t step into the Octagon at the event unless it was for the title.
“(White) was pretty pissed off. He was just in a bad mood,” Ortega told Brendan Schaub on the ‘Below The Belt’ podcast. “Fight fell through, I didn’t realize DC just fell on the stage. And then he walks in this meeting, and I’m over here telling him, ‘Hey, man, I’m not going to fight.’ Like, I’m holding my ground. I said, ‘Listen, with all due respect, I stepped in and fought (Thiago) Tavares on two weeks’ notice, I stepped in and fought Frankie (Edgar) on three weeks’ notice, and I stepped in to try to fight Khabib (Nurmagomedov) on six days’ notice.’ I go, ‘It’s not a scared issue. It’s not that I’m not down for the company.’ I go, ‘Now it’s just, I finished everyone you told me to. Every single person you put in front of me, I took their heads out, like Conor (McGregor) says, and I put them on your (expletive) doorstep.’ I go, ‘And that earned me a title shot. Now that I’m here, why go anywhere else besides forward?’”
However, it seems that White still tried to convince Ortega to just fight on extremely short notice, but he stood his ground.
“He put on his promoter hat. He’s like, ‘Listen, man, just fight. Blah, blah, blah, we’ll work something out.’ And then I was like, ‘We don’t need to work anything out. I want Max Holloway, or I want the belt.’ He says, ‘I’m going to see if we can do an interim fight.’ I was like, ‘I’m not fighting for a fake belt. It looks cool, but it’s not the real belt, doesn’t get you the real – there’s no real money involved with that one, nothing that really goes on in terms of being the champion. You just get something that says I’m in first place. It just says I’m next in line for the belt.’ Which is like, I’m already here, right? You just want to put something shiny around my waist to make me feel better. I was like, ‘No, I’m not going to do it.’”
Ortega then attempted to ensure that he would still be compensated for having shown up to the fight that he was originally contracted to, given that it hadn’t been his fault that it had fallen through during fight week.
“I told him ‘Listen, I showed up, I’ve been cutting weight, I did all media, even the media in Spanish that you guys – I had to do double the work and do all that in Spanish,” Ortega told Brendan Schaub on his ‘Below The Belt’ podcast. “Every fighter left, and I’m still stuck there doing everything in Spanish.”
“I’ve been showing I’m a company man, I’m down to promote the hell out of this fight, I’m taking extra hours while I’m hungry, starving to keep doing media. And I’ve been cutting weight, did the open workouts, ready for media. I showed up. Don’t you think that’s worth something? That’s worth something, even if I didn’t take the fight. I go ‘I did my end of the deal.’
“Then he came back and said ‘Well, our deal was to see if we can find you a fight, and we found you a fight, and you turned it down.’ I was like ‘Unless it’s for a title, I’m not going for it.’ He goes ‘Well, I did my job, you didn’t do yours. Your job is to show up and fight.’”