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Ortega submits Rodriguez to avenge 2022 loss

Josh Hedges / UFC / Getty

Brian Ortega avenged his loss to Yair Rodriguez in spectacular fashion, reminding the world he's still one of the best at 145 pounds.

In a battle of UFC featherweight title contenders, Ortega submitted Rodriguez with an arm-triangle choke at the 0:58 mark of the third round Saturday night. The fight was the UFC Mexico City co-main event.

Rodriguez defeated Ortega via first-round TKO in July 2022 after Ortega suffered a shoulder injury in the fight. Ortega hadn't stepped into the Octagon since then.

"T-City" earned his first victory since 2020 and is now a top candidate to challenge newly crowned champion Ilia Topuria for the 145-pound belt. Topuria dethroned Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 298 last weekend. Ortega, when asked what was next for him in his postfight interview, said he would talk to UFC executives Dana White and Hunter Campbell.

Rodriguez got off to a great start in the fight, hurting Ortega with a left hand and busting him up with several other hard punches on the feet.

Ortega bounced back well in Round 2, trading punches with Rodriguez before taking the Mexico native down, controlling him for two-plus minutes, and landing a bit of ground-and-pound.

Ortega learned from his success in the second round and secured a takedown 30 seconds into the third. He quickly locked in the arm-triangle submission and forced the tap.

With the victory, Ortega snapped a two-fight skid, which consisted of the Rodriguez loss and a defeat in a September 2021 title fight against Volkanovski. This was Ortega's first win since he dominated Chan Sung Jung in October 2020 and his first submission since December 2017.

Rodriguez, a former interim featherweight champion, has now lost two straight for the first time in his career. "El Pantera" came up short in a title unification bout against Volkanovski last July.

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