Brian Ortega talks Halle Berry, timetable for return, predicts Holloway vs. Poirier 2

Elite UFC featherweight Brian “T-City” Ortega has been getting himself healthy in preparation for his return to action in the Octagon. Ortega is coming…

By: Eddie Mercado | 4 years ago
Brian Ortega talks Halle Berry, timetable for return, predicts Holloway vs. Poirier 2
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Elite UFC featherweight Brian “T-City” Ortega has been getting himself healthy in preparation for his return to action in the Octagon. Ortega is coming off of his first UFC title fight at UFC 231 this past December, where he fell short to Max Holloway due to a doctor’s stoppage between the fourth and fifth rounds.

After linking up his fighting spirit with current UFC sponsor Modelo, Ortega spoke to Bloody Elbow to discuss the takeaways from his match with Holloway, and divulge exactly where he gets his toughness from. Ortega also opened up about how he got connected with superstar actor Halle Berry to train her for upcoming role. Naturally, he was asked about a possible love interest with the stunning Academy Award winning entertainer.

Also in the interview, the top “T-City” gave a timetable for his return to the cage, as well as calling out former 145-pound king Jose Aldo. Ortega then went on to predict the upcoming interim lightweight title bout between Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier. Closing out the discussion, Ortega risked offending some fans with his opinion of the best style of martial arts for kids to start out in.

  • Q: On top of being one of the most elite featherweights in MMA today, you have also signed on as a brand ambassador for popular cerveza company Modelo. How did that relationship come to be?

Brian, “Modelo carries what they stand for, and what they stand for is the fighting spirit. That is something that the entire world can now relate to, when they know that my fighting spirit one of the strongest if not the strongest in the UFC, when it comes to not quitting.”

  • Q: What’s this I see about movie superstar Halle Berry seeking you out to help prepare her for her upcoming role as an MMA fighter?

Brian, “Both of us saw each other at the fights. Just kind of said what’s up to each other, talked with each other for a bit, and that was it. Obviously I went and saw more stuff about her that she has done, and kind of just studied her more. She did the same actually, which I didn’t know. She went and looked me up and studied me as well. She reached out and said, ‘Hey, come get me ready for this fight.’ She said it would be an honor to go and just train and get her ready for the movie. I said, ‘Of course.’”

  • Q: Of course, Halle Berry is wildly attractive on top of being a phenomenal actor. Is there anything more going on than just training, or is this strictly a professional move?

Brian, “I think it’s going to be just training. I know that how things, like everyone saying the whole ‘Man Crush Monday’ thing, but yeah. If she thinks something about me, I’m honored and humbled, but I’m there to make you look badass for your movie.”

  • Q: You took the UFC by storm, debuting back in July of 2014. I was fortunate enough to catch wind of you early on when I was getting my Jiu-Jitsu blue belt under Frank Cucci here in Virginia Beach.

Brian, “Oh hell yeah! Uncle Frank! Uncle Frank Cucci!”

  • Q: Coming into the sport of MMA, what were your expectations of exactly how far you wanted to go in the UFC?

Brian, “I wanted to become a champ. I want to become a champ. That’s why my drive is strong. I always saw myself as a champ. It’s just a matter of time for me to prove myself. I did every step you can take to show the world who I was and why I belong here. I feel like I took the right steps and the right risks and everything I did in my career to show the world.”

  • Q: Growing up with Rener Gracie, it’s no surprise to see you possessing a wicked submission game, but you’ve also been known to score the knockout, i.e. Frankie Edgar and Clay Guida. What is it about your style that enables you to find the finish?

Brian, “I always say that in fights there’s these little golden windows of opportunity. When we’re watching it, we jump up and we say, ‘Finish him! Finish him!’ We see these fights from the outside. It’s hard to see these opportunities from the inside. I feel like I’ve been able just to see these windows, on just a level on the inside. I’ve been able to watch it in their eyes and watch a little bit of their movement, their pattern behavior, and study it. And then find when I have them injured, I just go after them like a shark.”

  • Q: In your last outing, you showcased tremendous heart in your first UFC title fight against Max Holloway. You never stopped throwing, you never quit, but the doctor elected to stop the bout between the fourth and fifth rounds. What was your biggest takeaway from the entire experience?

Brian, “I go back and I look at this and I tell myself, one — I’m proud of myself. No matter what the way I was feeling. Two — is ‘Damn, boy!’ Okay. I thought I had a chin before, but now it’s like okay, now you really got a chin. Then lastly — really it’s honestly like my fighting spirit, man. My fighting spirit is strong in there. I refuse to quit no matter what’s going on. I’m in there. My spirit is strong when I’m fighting, and that’s why we locked the deal with Modelo.”

  • Q: Where does the toughness of Brian Ortega come from?

Brian, “Everything I’ve been through in life. It’s hard to shut me down when I’ve been through so much. A lot of people I don’t think will ever fully understand, but when you’re counted down your whole life, and your whole life you have to fight out of every situation, no matter where you’re at. Whether it’s fighting out of poverty, fighting just to survive at school, no matter what, I was always on the go.”

“I refuse to quit. I refuse to give up. My dad has these symbols for his kids, right. Out of my siblings, he says that I’m the lion. He said, ‘The reason you’re the lion is because the lion is – no matter what, whether he’s cast out of the crew or he’s on his own, whatever – the lion will never stop fighting until its last breath. And that’s who you are.’ He gave me that animal a long time ago.”

  • Q: Max Holloway is about to fight Dustin Poirier in a high-stakes lightweight interim title bout. Who takes it?

Brian, “I’m not too sure, man. I know they fought before. I know Dustin got the better of him when they were young. I think both evolved into very good fighters. Max is not the same Max and Dustin is not the same Dustin. The key points that both of them have: obviously Max has the conditioning, the cardio, being able to throw punches in bunches. Then also, Dustin has other hidden weapons that he doesn’t use, and he has great striking as well. I feel like these are the fights I love to watch, because they’re fights you don’t know who to root with, or who to go with — because they’re both so good that they could finish each other. Those are the fights you want to see because that’s how you get fight of the night.”

  • Q: What’s next for you? How long before you want to get back out there and who would you like to fight?

Brian, “I got six more weeks until I’m at 100%. I feel like I’m at 75 right now. In six more weeks, I’ll be a full 100 ready to go, ready for action. Who knows, obviously there’s always all kinds of choices. Like you said earlier in this interview, I’m the number one, not Aldo. So, let’s fight.”

  • Q: For parents who want to get their child involved in martial arts, what would you say is the best art form to begin with?

Brian, “Oooooh, I’m going to offend a lot of people haha. I honestly feel, and not because I’m biased, I would always go with Jiu-Jitsu. And not because that was the art that I love, but it’s just the simple fact that if a kid gets in a fight, the majority if not 99% of martial arts teach you how to strike. That means your kid is going to have to hit another kid along the way of defending himself, which therefore will get in trouble. At the end of the day, no matter how you paint that story, your kid hit someone. Whether he was in the right or in the wrong, and those stories just suck. You know as a parent your kid did the right thing. You’re proud of him or her for defending themself, but school has a different type of, you know, there’s a no fight policy. With Jiu-Jitsu, they don’t have to fight. Your child never has to throw a punch.”

“You use Jiu-Jitsu as a negotiation tool. So when the teacher and staff come to break the so called fight, literally it’s just a kid holding another kid down and telling them, please don’t bully me.’ They never punch the kid, they never physically harm them, except for holding them. So that’s why I would lean towards Jiu-Jitsu for self defense for any kid.”

Be on the lookout for the 14-1-1 Brian Ortega as he looks to make his return in the near future, and against another top-ranked featherweight. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all of your UFC event coverage including interviews, play-by-play, highlights, and more!

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About the author
Eddie Mercado
Eddie Mercado

Eddie Mercado is a writer and content creator for Bloody Elbow, and has covered combat sports since 2015. Eddie covers everything from betting odds and live events, to fighter interviews and co-hosting the 6th Round post-fight show and the 6th Round Retro. He retired at 1-0 in professional MMA, competed in one Muay Thai match in Thailand, and is currently a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu under the great Diego Bispo.

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