01 Jan Brian Ortega reveals how past encounter with Alexander Volkanovski made him respect the UFC champ so much
Brian Ortega had ill will against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung ahead of their fight at UFC Fight Island 6, but don’t expect that same kind of heat for a possible showdown with reigning featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.
Following a dominant five-round victory on Saturday night, Ortega was declared the de facto No. 1 contender at 145 pounds, which puts him on a collision course with Volkanovski.
In the aftermath of his win, Ortega had nothing but praise for Volkanovski including an incident from earlier this year that gave him a new-found respect for the Australian native.
It all went down in Las Vegas during UFC 248 when Ortega was involved in a physical altercation with rapper Jay Park, who was a guest alongside “The Korean Zombie” that night. According to Ortega, he actually spoke with Volkanovski just after tensions boiled over and it gave him a very favorable opinion of his next potential opponent.
“He’s a cool dude. I like him,” Ortega said about Volkanovski on the UFC post-fight show. “After that incident happened over there in Vegas right after the world hated me and some Korean pop singers don’t like me, he came up to me and he’s like ‘what’s up man, what happened with that and everything?’ He talked to me and it was cool.
“You get a lot of champs, they don’t even want to look in your direction or talk to you. They see you already as an enemy and I don’t want to see anyone as the enemy. We go there, we go there but he was cool. I like him.”
As far as the matchup goes, Ortega admits he’s got a lot more studying to do when it comes to truly understanding Volkanovski as a mixed martial artist much less how he would game plan for that particular fight.
That said, Ortega sees a lot of himself in Volkanovski, which makes for a very intriguing stylistic clash.
“He’s great. He’s very similar almost,” Ortega said. “I study him a lot. He’s very similar at picking you apart and going in there and being strategic and moving left, moving right and picking you apart. Putting pressure and getting some takedowns and letting you get back up. He’s a very interesting guy. He’s really good at playing a point system and winning rounds.
“I’d have to look at him again. I watched his fights with Max [Holloway]. It’s different. I feel like what he has to bring right off the bat, he’s kind of similar. On the takedowns, obviously I don’t really care too much about getting taken down. You can have them. It’s interesting. I would love a fight with him. It would be interesting.”
While the disdain shared with Jung drove the narrative for his main event fight on Saturday night, Ortega doesn’t need that kind of negativity to fuel him to compete.
He has nothing but the utmost respect for Volkanovski but that won’t change his performance should they finally meet in the cage.
“When you go in there, you don’t care if you have beef or you don’t,” Ortega said. “Good intentions, bad intentions, good blood, bad blood, we get down.”