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Former two-time UFC featherweight title challenger Brian Ortega has explained the circumstances that led to his late removal from last weekend’s UFC 303 card in Las Vegas.

Ortega, 31, was slated to fight Diego Lopes on last Saturday’s card as part of the UFC’s annual International Fight Week festivities, only to notify the organisation hours in advance of the bout that health issues had rendered him unable to compete. This prompted UFC officials to once again scramble to fill a gap near the top of the card, eventually landing on Dan Ige who took the fight with Lopes on barely four hours’ notice.

The Ortega-Lopes fight, which was itself arranged on short notice, was initially planned as a 145-pound contest but given the short amount of time available, Ortega successfully petitioned the UFC to have the fight at lightweight (155-pounds) instead.

However, as he explained in a statement published to social media, it soon became clear that Ortega’s body was not complying in his bid to drop weight.


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“Come fight week, I felt off and I didn’t feel right,” Ortega wrote in the lengthy statement. “I thought it was just the residual effects from the [weight] cut. I was 178 pounds when I accepted this fight on 15 days’ notice. Thursday night after seven straight hours, I could not break 151 pounds. Later, I would find out that I was battling a fever and I could not break into the final five pounds as my body started to shut down.

“Rather than risking huge health consequences, and possibly calling the fight off, thankfully we were able to move the weight to 155. At weigh-ins, I still felt off but I was sure it would go away after I rehydrated and ate.”

But instead of feeling better, Ortega explained that the situation gradually got worse.

“Later on that night, I still felt off and was suffering from cold sweats and no sleep,” he said. “Finally, I feel asleep at 6 a.m. Saturday morning and woke up at 1 p.m. hoping to feel better. I could not keep any food or water down nor could I stand up to use the restroom.

“I struggled with my own ego, got on a call with Tiki [Ghosn] and Hunter [UFC official, Campbell], and I made the decision to call off the fight. “I dared to do something crazy for the love of fighting but I got sick and my body gave out on me. I want to give the fans and my opponents my best performance every time I step into the cage.”

He concluded: “Diego Lopes, I can only imagine what went off on your side, you have nothing but my respect and I’ll talk to Hunter and and Tiki and make this right by you. To the UFC, Dana, Hunter and the fans, thank you for having my back.”