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Understanding The Brian Ortega Factor: MMA’s Most Unique Weapon

It’s hard to draw a comparison between Brian Ortega and anyone else on the UFC’s roster today but does the very thing that sets him apart from all others come with an expiration date?

Despite his clamp-like chokeholds, his incredible power, and his hulking size at 145lbs – the most fearsome weapon in the arsenal of Brian Ortega is one that cannot be explained.

It’s a killer instinct, an ace up the sleeve, an x-factor.

I’ve taken a liking to calling it the ‘Brian Ortega Factor’ because it is something that is completely unique to him – something we have seen so many times that it has gone beyond mere luck or anything we can rationalise.

So what is The Brian Ortega Factor?

T-City has this weird, built-in ability to find a win. It’s not comparable to anything I’ve seen before. It’s not the one-punch knockout threat of an Anthony Johnson or a Francis Ngannou – a single tool in the repertoire of an opponent that can be gameplanned for.

For all the talk of his high-level abilities on the mat, The Brian Ortega Factor is his all-encompassing ability to make you lose.

That might sound simple and to a certain extent underwhelming, but believe me, this man’s UFC run has been nothing short of extraordinary.

Seven fights, seven wins, seven finishes.

That’s impressive but again, nothing we haven’t seen before.

The weird thing about Ortega that came through during his rise is that he is almost always losing fights when he gets the job done.

And again, it’s not any type of one-shot power in his arsenal that caused the wild momentum swings that caused him to get his title-shot this weekend.

This is where The Brian Ortega Factor comes in.

The techniques used don’t matter in the overall scheme of things and there isn’t some common connection to be found in the finishes he has earned.

Against Thiago Tavares, he was being stifled to a certain extent by his opponent’s top-heavy game on the ground before his pace and volume won it out late in the third-round to more-than-likely save him from a decision loss.

The veteran Clay Guida was looking like he had rediscovered his fire against Ortega after a patchy run that saw many question his prospects in the division. Again, the scorecards were looming and like before, T-City was on his way to his first career loss – under 30 seconds away from it to be exact.

This time, The Brian Ortega Factor came in the form of a perfectly timed knee to intercept Guida’s level-change for what would have been a fight-sealing takedown.

Renato Moicano is one of the most underrated fighters at featherweight right now and a real dark horse within the division’s upper-echelons.

When he and Ortega threw down in their UFC 214 Fight of the Night-winning effort, as competitive as it was, Moicano was the one dictating the direction of the fight.

Again, Ortega was about to receive his first loss. His stock wouldn’t have taken too much in the way of damage from the defeat, though.

No one was in any doubt about what he brought to the table, but again, the L was looming.

Or at least that was until his pressure caused Moicano to shoot in for an ill-advised takedown before being snapped up and tapped by way of guillotine choke.

Watching the fight back it was almost as if there was a magnetic pull dragging Ortega towards the victory – or dragging his opponent away from it.

Cub Swanson’s experience and technical advantage on the feet was giving him a clear edge when he fought T-City in Fresno and for a while, it looked like we were about to witness a vintage performance from the featherweight icon.

And yet, as soon as Brian was able to find the slightest of openings, he took it. First, there was his initial submission attempt that saw Swanson saved by the bell at the end of the opening round, something that left the veteran with a look of pure bemusement on his face.

Things were going well for Cub, make no mistake, but in that moment he broke and the spectacular flying guillotine that followed was nothing but a formality.

Even if we were aware of Ortega’s special ability to find the win – the idea of him finishing Frankie Edgar was the step too far in the eyes of most, even for a man of his extraordinary talent.

The Brian Ortega Factor would finally hit its wall in the form of one of the toughest fighters in UFC history.

Edgar had never once been finished in a fight and to be honest, those making their predictions had a miraculous stoppage from Ortega as his only route to victory.

Otherwise, the gap in quality would be made apparent.

And for a while it was.

Edgar’s movement and angles definitely seemed to confuse Ortega to a certain extent and it’s not a stretch to say that the former lightweight champion was winning the first-round.

This time, however, we saw the cerebral approach of the rising featherweight force to its fullest. Timing an elbow to the chin of Edgar with perfect precision – the finishing sequence started before it was ended with an uppercut that brought shades of Ngannou/Overeem to mind.

The MMA community had to collectively sit back for a moment and digest what they had just seen but from that fight came the proof that The Brian Ortega Factor is as real as any other signature weapon to be found in a fighter’s arsenal.

His finishes have come from punches, knees, submissions off of takedowns, flying guillotines, elbows and uppercuts.

Are you catching the pattern here?

Well, I’m not either.

The single common factor to be found here is this young man’s innate ability to find victory. It comes through his calm demeanour even in the wildest of firefights and as a result, it makes him one of the most dangerous fighters in the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Brian Ortega Factor.

The question, is how long can he keep this up?

It seems pretty easy to say that a talented and experienced fighter like Max Holloway just needs to avoid being finished for 25 minutes to win on Saturday night but like many have found out the hard way, this guy has a freakish magnetism about him and while the fight is already amazing on paper – the prevalence of The Brian Ortega Factor should not be underestimated.

Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena


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Author: Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at