Brian “T-City” Ortega; slick boxing, slick Jiu-jitsu. His skills have moved him closer and closer to the top of the featherweight division, with his most recent win putting him in line for a title shot against Max Holloway.
As a fan of any jiu-jitsu practitioner in MMA, I wanted to take a closer look at what it is that has brought Ortega this far.
The featherweight division has long been considered one of the toughest divisions, full of murderous strikers and tough all rounders. It is important to recognize that as amazing as specialists are, modern MMA demands that fighters are well rounded and well versed in all aspects of the game.
What makes Brian Ortega so effective is that his sword has two edges. Not only is he a very high level Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt, but he has some very slick boxing too. We’ve seen this combination before in fighters like BJ Penn and the Diaz brothers, with both Nick and Nate Diaz hailing from a sound boxing pedigree.
The combination is excellent for MMA. It allows the fighter to apply pressure on the feet and, more often than not, force an opponent to try and take the fight to the ground. Once on the ground, the fighter’s Jiu-jitsu takes over and continues to apply that same devastating pressure from every position. Many opponents simply crumble under the constant pace and pressure that both arts capture, leading to either a knock out or a submission.
The specialist in one martial art may have a deadly sharp edge to their sword, but it will not always be enough. Their strategy can be identified easily and their game shut down by a savvy opponent. Having two changes the dynamics drastically.
Everyone was aware of Ortega’s boxing abilities in the leadup to his most recent bout with Frankie Edgar, but I don’t think many people imagined that Ortega would finish him so dramatically. After a well placed elbow that left Frankie stunned for a takedown, Ortega became the first person ever to knock Frankie out cold with a perfectly timed upper cut as he charged forward trying to tie Ortega up in the clinch.
As Holloway v Ortega looms as an imminent title fight, we get to see two very slick strikers square off. Both men have talent and huge potential, having between them fought the who’s who of the division. As a fan of the sport, I look forward to technical exchange between the two.
Thanks for reading.