Sometimes it’s just not your night.
All was going satisfactorily in last Saturday night’s UFC main event fight with Yair Rodriguez in New York when Ortega, as he has done a thousand times before, attempted to yank his arm free from a fanciful submission attempt by his Mexican opponent towards the end of the first round.
But then came the pop, followed quickly by the grim realisation that his shoulder had popped out of its socket, forcing an early end to bout at the summit of the UFC featherweight rankings.
And as he explained afterwards, it was just one of those freak accidents which can happen in the sport.
“His grip was tight on my arm and it dislocated, and that was it. Like, no armlock, no nothing, but it just dislocated. Freak accident, and it just sucks,” Ortega said soon after the fight. “It’s the first time it’s ever happened in my entire career. That was the first time it’s ever happened and now I’m kind of like taken aback by it. I can’t believe this is what’s going on right now.”
View this post on Instagram
Ortega was seeking redemption after losing out to champ Alexander Volkanovski in his last fight, and he said that he felt the fight was progressing just as he had imagined up until the unlucky injury.
“Everything was going my way. Literally, I was winning every minute of the fight. I was sticking to the game plan, because I do get emotional. For one second we started hitting, we started throwing, and I was like, ‘Alright, let’s start throwing,’ and I go, ‘No, let’s just stick to the game plan.’
“And the world saw… I was about to show what I do best, which is grapple and take control. And the second we hit the ground, it just, my freaking arm just f*cking came out. And I’ve got no words, man. I don’t know.”
There have been whispers in the days after the fight that the UFC is considering pairing Rodriguez with Josh Emmet to determine the next challenger to Volkanovski, but Ortega says he wants to run it back with the Mexican striker before long.
“I would love to do it again,” he said. “I feel like we left the world with blue balls. We didn’t get to finish what I wanted to do, you know? Had he got up, had we scrambled, had we banged it out… I was ready in my mind to have a dogfight. I was ready to go in there and just impose my will, and I can’t do it with just one arm.
“If he said he’s willing to run it back, I definitely want to get it back. I’m going to go MRI this as soon as I can, do what I have to do. I pray to God that I don’t have to get surgery. I already had two shoulder surgeries as it is, so I’m praying that I don’t have to go into the under that knife again, because it just sucks when you have to get surgery.
“The second I’m physically healthy to do it, let’s do it. I want to get back in. I’m not trying to take any [time] off. I’m upset, but trying to smile just to not — I put in way too much work, you know? I sacrifice everything just for something stupid like this to happen.”