UFC Fight Night: Brian Ortega undergoes 'rebuild' ahead of long-awaited return against Jung Chan-sung
No 2-ranked featherweight faces the 'Korean Zombie' in the main event in Abu Dhabi on Sunday
Brian Ortega has said he has rebuilt his approach to training and improved his striking in the process as the American makes his return to the UFC Octagon after nearly two years.
Ortega, 29, last competed in December 2018 when a TKO stoppage, on the doctor's orders, against then featherweight champion Max Holloway at UFC 231 ended his unbeaten professional MMA record in his 16th fight.
The No 2-ranked contender faces fourth-ranked "Korean Zombie" Jung Chan-sung in the main event at UFC Fight Night in Abu Dhabi on Sunday in his first bout back.
Ortega insists he has put his first career defeat behind him and is solely focused on getting back on track. Part of that process included recruiting a new team after parting ways with longtime coach James Luhrse following his loss.
“This is all about coming back, taking a fight that’s not easy,” Ortega said. “It’s like, 'let’s rebuild again'.
“I don’t need rebuilding in the fight world. I needed rebuilding in the training world, and I got my rebuilding in the training world. I’m in this sport to fight the best. That’s why I love this.”
Facing an opponent in Jung who has stopped his last two opponents, Renato Carneiro and Frankie Edgar, by first round TKOs after a barrage of punches, Ortega is aware of the power the Korean possesses.
“His striking is good, my striking is good,” Ortega, a jiu-jitsu black belt, said. “He likes to bang in a technical way. I like to just bang.
“Obviously, I’m trying to get better. My goal is to come and show you guys, and do that. As far as for the ground, it’s a jiu-jitsu tournament.”
Ortega and Jung were initially scheduled to meet in December 2019 before the American withdrew with a knee injury. The two fighters then had a well-publicised confrontation when they crossed paths at UFC 248 in March, with Ortega slapping Jung’s friend and translator, Korean pop star Jay Park.
Despite any tension between the pair, Ortega insists come fight night it will be all business.
“I have no bad intentions when we both get in there,” he said. “I could see how it could be seen in that way by my actions [at UFC 248].
“But ultimately we were talking too much and I started to get [angry], but if you really want to go to war, this is the beginning.
Ortega and Jung arrive in Abu Dhabi for UFC Fight Night
“This is not the worse that’s happened in the UFC. I want to come back and I’m hungry. I’ll take whatever I can get. If I get a quick knockout or a quick submission, the name of the game is win.”
Jung, 33, agrees with his rival and said he holds Ortega's career achievements in the highest regard.
“As an individual, we’re not on the best terms,” he said. “But as Brian Ortega the fighter, I respect him to the utmost.
“I’ve been a fan of him. All his fights, I’ve watched, and I’m actually amazed by some of the things he’s been able to accomplish. I’m expecting Brian Ortega the fighter.”
Jung, who holds a 16-5 professional MMA record, is expecting Ortega to prove a stern opponent inside the Octagon, and admitted he will have to deliver a special performance if he wants to stop a fighter who has never been knocked down.
“He got hit about 300 times by Holloway and still didn’t get dropped,” Jung said. “He’s going to be a tough guy to knock out. He’s going to go five rounds and at the end of the day I want to just get that win."
Given the lofty rankings of both fighters, UFC president Dana White has confirmed that this bout will likely act as a title eliminator, with the winner earning a shot at champion Alexander Volkanovski, who successfully defended his title in a rematch with Holloway at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s absolutely the No 1 contender fight,” White said. “First of all, it’s the fight that should’ve happened a long time ago. We’re finally here, with all the crazy stuff that’s happened and all the crazy things that always happen in this business.
“For us to finally be here, the ‘Zombie’ vs Ortega, the winner of this fight should get the next title shot.”
Updated: October 16, 2020 01:36 PM