Brian Ortega says he would’ve retired from MMA if he lost the Thiago Tavares fight in 2015

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Saikat Banerjee
A wordsmith who indulges in the world of combat sports, Saikat Banerjee is an MMA, boxing, and arm wrestling content writer at The MMA India Show and The Sports Room. Apart from combat sports, he also engages in Indian sports content at The Sports India Show. Currently pursuing an MBA from Jadavpur University, Saikat's other interests lie in motorcycling, working out, and travelling.
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Two time UFC Featherweight title contender and currenty ranked 2nd in the division, Brian Ortega has become one of the most popular faces in mixed martial arts. However, the sport might have seen a premature ending to his career, as Ortega revealed that at one point, he was considering to retire if he lost to Thiago Tavares in 2015.

I wasn’t making money, had 75 dollars to my name: Brian Ortega

A former Respect In The Cage (RTC) and Real Fight Arena (RFA) featherweight champion, Ortega made his debut in the Octagon in July 2014 when he faced Mike De La Torre on the undercard of UFC on Fox 12. Despite securing a submission victory over De La Torre, the verdict was later overturned after Ortega tested positive for drostanolone and it landed him a suspension for nine months along with a $2500 fine.

In June next year, Ortega nodded to a short notice fight against Thiago Tavares at UFC Fight Night 68. However, speaking to Spinnin Backfist on Barstool Sports, Ortega revealed that he was not only heading into the fight as an underdog against the experienced Brazilian fighter, but he was also “broke as s**t” and would’ve parted ways with the sport if he didn’t emerge victorious.

“I was broke, used the GST (training classes) money that I got to pay my rent, support my kids and then shit I had no money after that. I’m going into a UFC fight broke as s**t. I walk in and it’s like cool, this guy a veteran, he’s had 15 fights in the UFC, I’m 15-2 right now, so at that time I was 7-0 or something, I was like damn, f*****g guy is yaked up, buff as f**k, thrid degree black belt, wrestler, Phuket muay Thai, and I was just training with cops. To me, that was the biggest one, man. They threw me in there to basically get killed,” said Ortrga.

“I remember even at the weigh-ins, he’s like thank you for taking this fight. Like almost like thank you for being an idiot, and a lot of fighters were saying not many people would fight him on two weeks’ notice,” the 31-year-old went on, continued. “Sure enough, we had a war. It was a war, if you haven’t watched that fight, it is for sure a classic, to me it is a classic. In the third round, I finished him and TKO’d him. It took everything out of me, I know you guys see me leave it out there, I left it all out there. I won, put my hands up and I just dropped.”

Needless to say, Ortega marked his first UFC victory against Tavares, winning the fight via third round TKO and also bagged the Fight of the Night bonus. Since then, he remained undefeated until losing to Max Holloway for the 135-pound title at UFC 231 in 2018 December.

Ortega vs Tavares, UFC Fight Night 68. (Image Courtesy: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports)

“They called me to do a press conference and I was like I’m not even on the main card, I was a prelim, like okay they want me to talk. They then presented me with the bonus and I was like wow. To me, I really needed that, I was going to quit if I lost that fight.”

“I was just at the point in my life where I wasn’t making money. I tried to buy some Jordan’s and I couldn’t afford them, I had 75 dollars ot my name on the day of the fight. Like I have two f*****g kids, like what the f**k am I doing. And, that night it went from daytime 75 dollars to nighttime 75K,” Ortega added. [H/T]

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