For the first time in his professional career, Brian Ortega will be missing one of his long-time mentors.
Over the weekend, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach Rener Gracie revealed he tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, he won’t be joining Team Ortega when they go against “The Korean Zombie” Chan-Sung Jung this Saturday on Fight Island.
As he explained in a Twitter video, Rener and his wife Eve Torres tested positive for the virus a month ago. They then went through two consecutive tests afterward and got a negative result on both.
But after going though the UFC’s mandated testing procedure in Las Vegas right before flying out to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s UFC Fight Island 6 event, Gracie once again got a positive result.
No @ufc Fight Island for me. pic.twitter.com/7FnkbuBbWp— Rener Gracie (@RenerGracie) October 10, 2020
Rener tried to make a case for himself by stating his two previous negative tests and lack of symptoms. UFC doctors later told him how the COVID’s residual effects remain in the body for three months after infection. They also explained to him how Abu Dhabi’s stringent procedures may be a problem for him.
“They said ‘Rener, if you get to Abu Dhabi, and you test positive there, you’re gonna quarantine for 14 days before they even let you come home,” he recalled. “And you’re not gonna be able to go to the fight. You won’t be participating in anything.’”
Gracie expressed how Ortega was “super bummed” upon finding out. But he remains confident that “T-City” will do fine, nonetheless.
“I assured him, I said, ‘Brian, luckily, this skillset that I bring to the table and that I’ve coached you for over 15 years in, is the most ingrained in you. Of all your skillsets in fighting. And it’s the one you least need coaching on. So if anyone has to stay behind, it should be me.’”
Ortega hasn’t competed since 2018, when he fought then-champion Max Holloway for the UFC featherweight title. He lost via fourth-round TKO due to doctor’s stoppage.