- Brian Ortega faced Yair Rodríguez at UFC Fight Night 237 in Mexico
- The American lost to Rodríguez in their previous clash via technical knockout back in July 2022.
- He took revenge, winning by submission after choking out his opponent.
Brian Ortega has admitted that “panic set in” moments before his victory at UFC Fight Night 237 after suffering a freak injury in the build-up.
On Saturday night, Ortega returned to challenge for the featherweight title after an impressive submission victory over Yair Rodriguez in Mexico City, Mexico.
It was a big win for the American, who was looking for revenge against Rodríguez after losing their first matchup via technical knockout back in 2022.
However, things could have been completely different for Ortega, who suffered a freak injury as Bruce Buffer announced his name.
As the American stood inside the octagon and listened to Buffer introduce both fighters, Ortega jumped into the air but then landed awkwardly on his ankle.
Brian Ortega suffered a strange injury moments before beating Yair Rodríguez on Saturday.
The American admitted that he “paniced” as he prepared to face his Mexican counterpart.
He looked clearly uncomfortable in the moments that followed and even appeared to have a few brief words with one of his cornerbacks.
Now, Ortega has uncovered the incident and admitted that he was overcome by “panic” and that he “paid the price” for lack of concentration.
At the UFC post-fight press conference in Mexico City, Ortega said: ‘Talking about things that are against me. Bruce (Buffer) was introducing me and then I jumped and when I landed, I sprained my ankle.
“I was like, ‘Oh, shoot.'” I looked at my coach and thought, ‘This is bad.’ He says, ‘Don’t worry about this.’ He was telling me to get in the zone, it doesn’t matter.
‘When they were introducing him (Rodriguez), I was trying to flex my ankle, like, ‘Come on, work, don’t you dare let me down right now.’ We have 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 moment.
‘So obviously I started from the beginning. Right off the bat, I started, got cut, and then paid the price for not being in the zone and focusing on what I was supposed to do. I survived.’
UFC boss Dana White also commented on the matter, during the post-fight press conference, when he said: ‘When I was jumping up and down? I saw that happen and then it seemed like I saw a ghost after that and I thought it would all be over quickly.
“And then you remember, Brian Ortega, who is mentally and physically fine, is a problem for anyone.”
Fortunately for Ortega, he was able to overcome the problem and choked out his opponent in the third round of their fight at the Arena Ciudad de México in Mexico City.
Rodriguez won the previous clash between the fighters in 2022 and dominated the first round.
But Ortega fought back and soon began to control the clash before his resounding victory.
Ortega had not fought since that loss in July 2022 and has endured a difficult period in his career, failing to win since beating Jung Chan-sung by unanimous decision in October 2020.
In a chaotic 15-minute fight, Ortega took some early blows from Rodriguez and was left sitting after taking one big hit in particular.
But he improved and managed to control the second round, landing several strong punches and cutting Rodriguez in the process.
He then pounced in the third round when Ortega choked him after taking down Rodriguez to secure revenge.