If Alexander Volkanovski has a problem with Brian Ortega’s path to contendership, then he picked one heck of a time to air his grievance. The featherweight king took a jab at ‘T-City’ during a UFC 266 fight week media event, suggesting that Ortega didn’t deserve to get his hands on UFC gold, considering he has a past drug test failure.
Ortega tested positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone back in 2014, following his debut UFC bout against Mike De La Torre. Originally a submission win for Ortega, the bout was overturned to a ‘no contest’—with Ortega suspended 9-months by the California State Athletic Commission, alongside a fine of $2,500.
“In preparation for my UFC debut, I used a banned substance called drostanalone,” Ortega admitted in a social media post, after news broke of his suspension. “It was an irresponsible decision that I will regret for the rest of my life. I apologize to my family, friends, fans, the UFC and everyone else who was affected by my selfish actions. It should be known that my coaches were totally unaware of my decisions, and I am ashamed that I let down the people who believed in me more than I believed in myself.”
And while all that may be old news to Ortega at this point in his career, it seems as though Volkanovski only just found out about it.
“I ain’t scared of you — we are going in the cage anyway,” Volkanovski told Ortega during Thursday’s staredown (transcript via MMA Mania). “Mate, I didn’t know about you popping, that shit don’t sit well with me, you don’t deserve to be here. You are a f—king drug cheat, that’s it, done.”
While Volkanovski later clarified that Ortega “deserves to be here,” but doesn’t deserve the belt, he explained his feelings in more detail during a recent media scrum (transcript via MMA Junkie), noting that their shared time on TUF gave him a view of Ortega as an unprofessional, weak person. A view he seems to feel the fighter’s past PED use fits right in with.
“To be honest, (he’s) obviously unprofessional,” Volkanovski said in response to a question about what he learned about Ortega during the filming of TUF 29. “I’ve said it all week. Unprofessional and weakness, you know what I mean? What upsets me the most is (he’s) unprofessional. I put the hard yards in my whole life, especially in this career. That’s how I got this belt.”
“I just see weakness, unprofessional,” Volkanovski continued. “Obviously, showing weakness a few years back popping (for PEDs), producing, that sh*t annoys me. It’s unprofessional and I ain’t about that shit.”
Ortega and Volkanovski are set to face off in the main event of this Saturday’s UFC PPV card. Alongside their featherweight title fight, a women’s flyweight bout between champion Valentina Shevchenko and challenger Lauren Murphy is scheduled for the co-main event. A welterweight rematch between Robbie Lawler and Nick Diaz is also set for the card.