Unfortunately for Ortega (15-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC), he came ended up on the short end of the stick when he lost a unanimous decision – his second failed UFC title opportunity.
Beaten, bloodied, bruised, and swollen, Ortega still took time to do an in-cage interview with UFC commentator Daniel Cormier immediately following the bout and he detailed how close some of his submission attempts were to victory.
“I thought it was done,” Ortega said. “That’s what we train for exactly, my whole camp. Like I said, I was trying to come for his head but that little bastard is tough as hell, man. I wrapped onto that neck. I tried to squeeze it. Trust me, I tried to finish him. I heard him gargling and he f*cking slipped out and I was like, ‘F*ck.’”
Although there was bad blood throughout their coaching stints on “The Ultimate Fighter,” Ortega said he has nothing but respect for the champion following their battle.
“This guy, he’s a champ for a reason,” Ortega said. “Nothing but love for him. Nothing but respect. I know we’ve had our sh*t, but it was whatever.”
Valentina Shevchenko: UFC 266 showed I’m on my way to being ‘untouchable’
Nick Diaz reacts to UFC 266 loss to Robbie Lawler: ‘I knew I had it coming’
Ortega went on to thank the crowd before he vowed he would come back better than ever. His only loss prior to Saturday was a failed title challenge against Max Holloway, a bout he used to rebuild and put forth a career performance in his next fight against Chan Sung Jung.
“Everyone out here, man,” Ortega said. “I love you guys from the bottom of my heart. You guys make me feel so happy in here. Every time I fight, you guys cheer me on. You’re the best. No matter what, I’m always here to put on shows for you guys. It’s time to go back in there, time to climb this ladder, get better, and you see it, man. I’m evolving, evolving. Even though we come up short, we’re not defined by how we lose but how we get up and overcome that sh*t, you know? That’s our Mexican heart for you. Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart.”
Ortega, 30, is 1-2 in his most recent three fights with the two title fight losses being the only of his professional MMA career.
UFC 266 took place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena. The main card streamed on ESPN+ pay-per-view after prelims on ESPNews/ESPN+.
UFC 266: Best photos from Las Vegas
view 91 images
UFC 266: Official scorecards from Las Vegas
view 24 images