Conor McGregor started a trend when he moved up in weight to become the first simultaneous two-division champion in the UFC.
Since ‘The Notorious’ captured the featherweight and lightweight titles in 2016, everyone from Henry Cejudo to Jon Jones has expressed interest in moving up in weight to become the next ‘champ champ.’
Pound-for-pound No. 1 Daniel Cormier is the only fighter to have lived up to that promise, beating Stipe Miocic earlier this year at UFC 226 to become the promotion’s first-ever simultaneous light heavyweight and heavyweight titleholder.
Could featherweight contender Brian Ortega follow in McGregor’s and Cormier’s footsteps and be the next fighter to hold belts in two different weight classes?
Speaking to the media ahead of his title bout with Max Holloway, ‘T-City’ entertained the idea of moving up in weight for a superfight with lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov after UFC 231.
“You look at some of these guys who make superfights,” Ortega said, per MMA Fighting’s Dave Doyle. “And you’re like, damn, I wish I was a part of that fight. I like superfights. I want superfights. I want guys that I can match up well where people don’t know what going to happen.”
“Every grappler, we have this since even before I was training, this whole wrestler vs. jiu-jitsu. We get along in the gym and we’re always like, you know, this is a matchup. Our hands are both good. He’s a top game guy and a wrestler and I’m a bottom game guy and a jiu-jitsu guy.”
Nurmagomedov outgrappled and submitted McGregor at UFC 229, but Ortega believes ‘The Eagle’ would have a much harder time trying to enforce the same gameplan in a possible Khabib vs. Ortega superfight.
“I was watching a lot of things in that fight, where, if I was in that position, there’s a lot of things I’d be doing differently,” Ortega said. “And that kind of just made me realize, kind of just, what I want is a superfight, if I ever get there, and it’s within reach. If I play my cards right, it’s within reach.”
If all goes well against Holloway, Ortega will look to start pitching these ideas to UFC president Dana White.
“I’ve got these ideas I want to go for, if I’m successful hopefully I can start asking Dana White for them,” he said.
UFC 231: Holloway vs. Ortega takes place this Saturday, Dec. 8 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada.