Brian Ortega var planerad för en titelmatch mot fjäderviktsmästaren Max Holloway under UFC 226, men Holloway kunde inte gå matchen på grund av hälsoproblem och drog sig ur. Ortega blev erbjuden Jeremy Stephens som ersättare, men tackade nej.
Ortega förklarade anledningen till detta via sin Instagram:
I’m a businessman, a company man, but I’m no yes man. 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 my decision. For those of you who don’t agree with me, I completely understand and promise to give you guys the show of your life when I fight for the title.
Nu har Stephens svarat på detta via Ariel Helwani MMA Show:
It’s really not my concern what that guy does. I stepped up and he stepped back. It is what it is, what can I do about it? I don’t want to sit here and talk about the guy, I really don’t know him personally. I am willing to fight and all I know is that this is the third time that my name has been in his ear. He has seen me fight a lot, in the front row, and seen me knock a motherfucker out. I mean, you tell me.
Those are facts, bro. Deny all you want, he stepped back and I stepped up.
Stephen berättar att han fortfarande är villig att möta Ortega under UFC 227 i augusti eller UFC 228 i september.
I told Dana [White, UFC President] that I will go to that [Ortega’s] mama’s house in L.A. and fight him in his front yard. I’ll fight him August 4, why not? Jose Aldo lost two title fights, he is out [of the picture]. I’ve been in the sport 11 years, putting on dominant performances, why not give him to me right now? Let’s set it up for September 8.
This kid is ducking me. Whether I fight Jose or not, they can pull me off this card and I will fight this kid in L.A. on August 4. I will go to his backyard, fight him there and pull his gangster card.
Stephens har just nu 3 raka vinster mot Gilbert Melendez, Doo Ho Choi och senast Josh Emmett via knockout under UFC on FOX 28 i februari. Han har ett record på sammanlagt 28 vinster och 14 förluster.