Chael Sonnen wasn’t exactly convinced of Brian Ortega’s supposed dominance at last weekend’s UFC 222, but he was prepared to bestow upon him a pretty favourable comparison nonetheless.
The UFC may well have another star on their hands, folks. A year ago, the name ‘Brian Ortega’ may not have been overly familiar to anyone but to those fully invested in the world of mixed martial arts but following his stunning UFC 222 upset win over Frankie Edgar last weekend, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more talked-about contender.
It truly was shocking to see play out. Edgar’s notoriety as one of the toughest fighters in the history of the sport followed him into this one and had many speculating that Ortega’s only real path to victory would involve him using his infamously slick submission game. Frankie is a long-time black-belt in BJJ under Ricardo Almeida and one of the most dominant wrestlers we’ve seen in some time and in terms of cardio and durability, he outmatched his opponent – on paper at least – in pretty much every way.
So when ‘T-City’ landed a clean elbow on his opponent in the very first-round, it started off a sequence that ended with one of the most brutal knockouts you will see all year.
Chael Sonnen spoke through the medium of his official YouTube account recently and while he wasn’t exactly convinced that Ortega was getting the upper-hand early on, his doggedness and ability to take a punch drew out a comparison to an older legend.
“I don’t know what my analysis is there because Frankie was winning that fight. People are already re-writing that one. Maybe he matches up a little better with Max than he did with Frankie. He may of snuck one in past Frankie. None of that matters, though. That’s what dreams are made of.
“He was losing the fight. It wasn’t that long of a fight but for what it was, if we had stopped or fast-forwarded the tape for twelve more minutes of what we’ve already seen – he loses that fight on all three judges’ cards.
“This is what he does well. He is the new Nick Diaz. He is going to take your punches and not give a damn. He is going to walk through them like a zombie. He is going to find his shot. In this case apparently he’s got hands. We were all thinking his submission game was his biggest strength, apparently he’s got hands too.
“He’s very calm. He can gain his composure. He took some hard shots from Frankie. He doesn’t show it.”
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena