Brian Ortega explains ‘rebirth’ during time off, views UFC Mexico as ‘a continuation’ vs. Yair Rodriguez

MEXICO CITY – Although misinformed, Brian Ortega has found inspiration in the eagle heading into UFC Fight Night 237.

“The rebirth is a nature process that the eagle goes through, and it’s something that felt very close to heart for me,” Ortega told reporters during Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 237 media day. “It’s some difficult changes that I had to make in my life, my personal life, to be able to really live the rest of my life the right way. For those who don’t know what the eagle does is the eagle lives for 70 years. At the 40-year mark, the eagle loses the sharpness of its beak, the feathers aren’t as good, and its talons are weak. So it has a choice: The choice is to die, keep doing what you’re doing and living the way you are, or isolate yourself way up in the mountains, smash your beak against a rock until it breaks, wait until it grows back, then pluck your talons out, and then pluck your feathers out, and then stay in isolation until everything grows back. Then when that process is done, the eagle can live the next 30 years of its life.

“And that process in nature is called the rebirth for the eagle, and that’s something similar that I felt that I went through in my personal life, where I had to sit in isolation and face myself in a way that I never have before. And I had to just pluck away and be alone for a long time, and now I’m here.”

For the record, the information Ortega shared about “the rebirth” of eagles has been debunked by ornithologists ever since it first circulated online in 2007. The myth about eagles self-mutilating made a resurgence on social media in 2021, which might explain how Ortega came across it.

For Ortega, who turned 33 on Wednesday, the inaccuracy is likely irrelevant. He clearly felt a connection. And that’s just what the UFC featherweight contender needed during trying times marked by back-to-back losses, injuries that kept him sidelined and personal hardship.

“When everything happened at the time, I had no idea why,” Ortega said. “Like a lot of people, we have this victim mentality – ‘why me, boo-hoo me, man, this sucks.’ One day I’ll really reveal everything that really happened and went down this last year, year-and-a-half. But now I see why it happened.”

Ortega’s experience has brought him to this point, just a few days away from a co-main event rematch with Yair Rodriguez on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 237 (ESPN+) from Mexico City Arena. Their last time out – Ortega’s most recent appearance in July 2022 – ended in just 4:11 with Rodriguez winning by injury TKO after Ortega’s shoulder popped out.

As far as Ortega is concerned, this fight is more of a sequel than a rematch because of the way the first one ended.

“My perspective on it is just a continuation of that fight,” Ortega said. “But it depends who you are, how you view the sport, incident, the fight – it’s either a rematch or a continuation. For me, it’s a continuation. …

“We just started getting warmed up. We were very dry. We were still trying to feel each other out, got a hold of each other, hit each other a little bit, felt each other’s strength. It was still partially in that feel-out session. It’s gonna be just two rounds now of that feel-out session (before the real fight).”

With Ilia Topuria the new featherweight champion after knocking out Alexander Volkanovski last Saturday at UFC 298, both Ortega (15-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) and Rodriguez (18-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC) have something to look forward to. Since they’d both lost against Volkanovski before, Topuria’s victory means the potential for Saturday’s winner to step into another title shot.

All Ortega could say to that was “we’ll see” while trying to to get too far ahead of himself.

“In terms of fighting, I like to try to be more present,” Ortega said. “Do I have plans? Of course. Do I reveal them? No. I take one thing at a time, and then we move on to the next move. It’s something that I learned recently and something that I’m adhering to.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 237.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie