Brian Ortega spent UFC 226 as a spectator, watching from the stands as Daniel Cormier became the second simultaneous two-division champion in promotion history.
Had things turned out differently, Ortega would have been in the Octagon one bout earlier, squaring off with reigning featherweight king Max Holloway in the evening's co-main event. Instead, Ortega was left without an opponent after Holloway was pulled from the card during fight week due to concussion-like symptoms.
Ortega reportedly had a chance to remain on the card, as he was offered an interim title fight against Jeremy Stephens on short notice. “T-City” declined that fight, opting to wait for Holloway to return to full health. At the moment, it is unclear when Holloway will be able to defend his 145-pound belt.
Ortega took to Instagram on Sunday to defend his decision.
“I'm a businessman, a company man, but I'm no yes man,” Ortega wrote. “Watching the fights last night knowing I could have been performing for all of you truly took a toll on me. I stand by my decision. Thank you to all of you who showed up to support and respected…