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Dustin Ortiz has ‘mixed emotions’ about UFC release; talks ‘pivotal moment’ vs Bagautinov

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Former UFC flyweight Dustin Ortiz is set to take on fellow Octagon veteran Ali Bagautinov at Brave 50.

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Dustin Ortiz is set to face Ali Bagautinov at Brave 50.
Photo by Michael Owens/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC

It has been a little over two years since former UFC flyweight contender Dustin Ortiz stepped into a cage to fight, but he is finally back. Following a release from the promotion in early 2019, the American took some time off to consider his next step before finally signing with Bahrain’s Brave Combat Federation in March 2020.

However, due to the conoravirus pandemic, Ortiz was unable to perform last year, having bouts falling through and putting together one training camp after the next just to stay in shape. Now, healthy and ready to make up for time lost, Dustin is set to take on former UFC flyweight title challenger at Brave 50, on April 1, in a quarter-final bout for the promotion’s grand prix.

In an exclusive interview with Bloody Elbow, Ortiz explained how he believes his style matches up with Bagautinov’s. In Dustin’s opinion, being younger and faster will be the keys to picking up his first win since 2018.

“You know, everybody has little flaws here and there, things that they need to work on. I think I match up great against him. Our styles are very, very similar. I think I move a little bit more. I think I’m younger and healthier and faster at this point in our careers. He did have a solid run run in the UFC. He’s done great things for his career and he’s still going at it.”

“I feel like we’re both in a kind of pivotal moment in our careers.” Dustin continued. “Where we could really take off and win a belt in the Brave Combat Federation, the biggest flyweight tournament to date. It kinda sets us back a little bit. We’ve got to work our way all the way back up, just like any other tournament or any other organization. And, you know, when you make it so far and then you lose a fight, whether people like to admit it or not, it’s a big setback in many different ways. So I think it’s a great match up for both of us and the time of our careers. “

Once a top contender in the UFC’s flyweight division, Ortiz was released from the promotion alongside other athletes back when the company considered dissolving the division. Although the weight class was never terminated, most of the men fired at the time did not return to the Octagon.

When Ortiz was released, he had only suffered one loss in his last four outings. Baffling as the decision to let him go was, Dustin tries to look at it in a mature way, considering it a business move and nothing personal. However, he confesses still having mixed feelings about the whole process.

“Yeah, I had many, many offers. There’s a lot of different options, you know, with the whole UFC thing, it’s business. I still have very mixed emotions about the whole thing because it was never clear cut. There is no clear communication with the UFC and myself. So I really don’t know how I feel about that. I still have to come to terms with it. But what I have come to terms with is it’s a business and they’re running a business and they did what they thought was the best choice for them.”

“So I have to respect and honor that.” Ortiz continued. “If I want to fight for the UFC again, I have to prove it and work my way back there just like everybody else. Brave was the recognized organization outside of the UFC. They were doing the biggest things, they were paying the most. And I felt like the opportunity there, and the belt that they were offering me in this tournament, was the biggest opportunity outside of the UFC that I could take. If I’m going to compete, I want to do it against the highest level of fighters, because I feel like that’s where I’m at.”

In his last outing, Ortiz (19-8) dropped a unanimous decision to Joseph Benavidez, back in January 2019. Before that, the 32-year-old was on a three-fight winning streak, with victories over Matheus Nicolau, Alexandre Pantoja and Hector Sandoval. Overall, Ortiz left the organization with an 8-6 record.

Now, Ortiz is expected to take on Bagautinov at Brave 50, on April 1, in Riffa, Bahrain. The card is scheduled to be headlined by a super welterweight (175 pounds) title fight between the champion, Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi and challenger Ismail Naurdiev. The card will be streamed for free on the promotion’s official streaming platform.