HEIGHT: 5' 9"
WEIGHT: 145 lbs
DOB: February 21, 1991
HOMETOWN: Torrance/San Pedro, CA
RESIDENCE: Torrance, CA
Born in the projects of San Pedro, located south of Los Angeles, Brian Ortega has persevered against the odds and fought his way to the #2 ranking in the UFC featherweight division. Born to parents from Sonora, Mexico, Ortega took up martial arts when he was five years old. At 13, he took his skills to the next level by signing up at the world-famous Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in nearby Torrance. Under the tutelage of Rorian Gracie and his son, Rener, Ortega earned a black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, a rare achievement in the competitive world of BJJ.
At 17 years of age, Ortega began training for boxing under coach James Luhrsen, and soon after signed up for regional MMA tournaments. After compiling a perfect 8-0 record, the 145-pound fighter signed up with the UFC in 2014. Nicknamed “T-City” by Rener Gracie because of Ortega’s mastery of the triangle choke, the featherweight has a 14-1 record and is now one of the UFC’s most exciting draws.
Known for his dominant submission skills, Ortega’s biggest moment in the cage came in UFC 222 on March 3, 2018, when he stopped Frankie Edgar in the first round. While he suffered his first lost against UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway on December 8, 2018, Ortega showed his heart and indomitable will by standing in for four rounds against Holloway, continuing to fight despite suffering a broken nose and thumb during the battle.
Ortega’s MMA career isn’t all broken bones and bruises. He recently showed up in actress Halle Berry’s Twitter feed, when she posted a selfie of her and Ortega with the hashtag #mancrushmonday. The UFC fighter is currently working with Berry for an upcoming film called “Bruised” about cage fighting. Ortega’s charity “T-City Foundation” also received a call-out from Hollywood great Robert Downey Jr., who pledged to support Ortega’s work with helping the underprivileged.
But don’t worry: T-City hasn’t gone Hollywood. At the relatively young age of 27, Ortega should have plenty of headlining UFC bouts in his future before he hangs up his gloves for good.
BRIAN’S FAVORITE TRAINING SONGS
“X Gone Give It to You” by DMX
BRIAN’S NUTRITION ADVICE
Because of the demands mandated by weight-class restrictions, Ortega takes a cautious approach to his diet by enlisting nutritionist Tyler Minton to help him make the right decisions. T-City always eats before training, adjusting the carbs and protein intake depending on the amount of effort the workout demands. On sparring days he eats protein pancakes, a favorite of his.
Lunch is a meal of lean protein, usually fish or 90% lean steak, along with a ration of potatoes. After a workout, he downs a protein shake to make sure his recovery is on track, but he may have a meal in addition. His cheat meals are “whenever Tyler isn’t looking,” says Ortega.
BRIAN’S TRAINING ADVICE
Ortega begins his training day running 4-5 miles. Then he’ll transition to strength and conditioning. “I need to fine-tune all those muscles I need for optimal functionality and speed,” he says.
Next, he’ll concentrate on his striking and BJJ skills. “I’ll meet up with my coach at the dungeon to train stand-up with the heavy bag to get my hands, defense, and footwork right. After that I'll go to the Gracie Academy to work on grapple and drill positions and scenarios so my jiu-jitsu is perfect anywhere the fight goes.”