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Brian Ortega releases first statement since falling off UFC 303 on fight day

Brian Ortega broke his silence on Wednesday after enduring a disastrous UFC 303 fight week that ended with him dropping out of his fight against Diego Lopes just hours before he was scheduled to compete.

The two-time featherweight title challenger released a statement addressing the ordeal that began after he accepted the fight against Lopes just two weeks prior to UFC 303 following the withdrawal of original headliner Conor McGregor. Ortega knew he had to drop quite a bit of weight to get down to the 146-pound limit for a non-title fight, but he seemed confident in getting the job done.

That all changed after he arrived in Las Vegas for fight week activities.

“Come fight week, I felt off and I didn’t feel right,” Ortega said on Instagram. “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.”

Despite an extra 10-pound allowance, Ortega still didn’t bounce back from the weight cut. He really started feeling sick overnight leading into Saturday’s scheduled fight.

“Later on that night, I still felt off and was suffering from cold sweats and no sleep,” Ortega wrote. “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.”

Finally realizing that he was dealing with an illness on top of the struggles he had with his weight cut, Ortega called to inform his manager and UFC that he just couldn’t fight.

“I struggled with my own ego, got on a call with Tiki [Ghosn] and Hunter [Campbell], and I made the decision to call off the fight,” Ortega said. “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.”

Ortega also addressed Lopes directly after Lopes initially cut down to featherweight, then gained a few pounds to compete at lightweight, then ultimately got an entirely different opponent in Dan Ige just hours before he was scheduled to compete.

“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,” Ortega said. “To the UFC, Dana [White], Hunter and the fans, thank you for having my back.”

Lopes has stated his interest in running it back with Ortega so long as the fight happens at featherweight, but it remains to be seen if UFC still wants to book that matchup. As for Ortega, he previously said he planned to eventually move to lightweight, but didn’t directly address his future in the statement provided on Wednesday.

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