Brian Ortega has some serious work to do yet, namely getting by Max Holloway this weekend, but the rising star’s made a compelling case for a showdown with Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Ortega is preparing to face the featherweight champ at UFC 231 this Saturday, in a fight that seems to have a teee-un of buzz from hardcore fans. After all, in Ortega you have an undefeated fighter who has demonstrated on numerous occasions now that he’s a finishing threat at all times. In Holloway, you have a fighter who is riding a twelve fight winning streak and has been steadily climbing the pound-for-pound ranks.
While Ortega has understandably been quick to praise Holloway leading up to their contest, and doesn’t appear to be looking past the champ, “T-City’s” made it clear he wants to scrap Khabib. Case in point, recently the 27-year-old had this to say about a possible showdown with Nurmagomedov (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“Every grappler, we have this since even before I was training, this whole wrestler vs. jiu-jitsu,” Ortega said. “We get along in the gym and we’re always like, you know, this is a matchup. Our hands are both good. He’s a top game guy and a wrestler and I’m a bottom game guy and a jiu-jitsu guy.”
“I was watching a lot of things in that fight, where, if I was in that position, there’s a lot of things I’d be doing differently,” Ortega said while referring to Khabib’s win over Conor McGregor in October. “And that kind of just made me realize, kind of just, what I want is a superfight, if I ever get there, and it’s within reach. If I play my cards right, it’s within reach.”
Yup. There’s no question that the prospect of Ortega facing Nurmagomedov raises a lot of very interesting questions. Would Khabib look to take the fight down? Since Ortega is extremely dangerous on the ground? Or would Ortega also find himself overwhelmed with Khabib on top? Like many others before?
Or might he test his stand-up against the California fighter? Even though Ortega’s also shown he’s no slouch in the striking department either?
Now, as noted above, Ortega has a very tough task ahead of him in Holloway, and by all indications, it looks like the UFC’s going to push for Khabib – Tony Ferguson next. But, if both men win those bouts, don’t be too shocked if the UFC takes a look at Nurmagomedov – Ortega. You would have two, undefeated champs fighting in that scenario. That should sell just fine.