UFC’s Brian Ortega rolls ankle during Bruce Buffer introduction – before beating Yair Rodriguez

Brian Ortega fought through a bizarre injury on Saturday to win his UFC rematch with Yair Rodriguez in Mexico City.

Ortega and Rodriguez fought each other in July 2022, with Ortega suffering a shoulder injury that resulted in a TKO loss. After a 19-month lay-off, the American returned to the cage on Saturday (24 February) to face Rodriguez in the latter’s native Mexico.

And it seemed that injury disaster had struck again for Ortega, even before the featherweight fight began. While jumping up and down as ring announcer Bruce Buffer introduced him, Ortega rolled his ankle. The 33-year-old immediately began to limp while appearing to subtly inform his coaches of the injury.

Ortega endured a torrid first round, too, suffering two knockdowns in quick succession, before turning the tide late in that frame. Ortega continued to control Rodriguez, 31, on the canvas in round two, before doing the same in round three.

In that round, Ortega secured an arm triangle to submit his fellow ex-title challenger, completing an impressive comeback.

Despite the fight being a co-main event, it was scheduled for five rounds – rather than the usual three.

Prior to his defeat by Rodriguez in 2022, Ortega challenged for the featherweight title in 2018 and 2021. The American was outpointed by Max Holloway then Alexander Volkanovski across those fights. Rodriguez also failed to dethrone Volkanovski, losing to the Australian via TKO in 2023.

Volkanovski finally lost the belt to Ilia Topuria this month, suffering a second-round knockout by the Georgian-Spaniard.