Rodriguez (15-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) faces Ortega (13-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) in a featherweight matchup in Saturday’s UFC on ABC 3 main event, which takes place at UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y. The main card airs on ABC and streams on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN/ESPN+.
Taking on a fellow Mexican fighter with whom he’s friendly isn’t ideal, but Rodriguez says it was inevitable that both top contenders clashed at some point.
“We had it in mind, yes for sure,” Rodriguez told MMA Junkie during UFC on ABC 3 media day. “It’s something we knew would happen. We never wanted it to happen. We actually talked, Brian Ortega and I, and we knew it was something that would happen. But we didn’t want to face each other unless it was something like this – an opportunity for the title or the title itself. And well, here we are. This opportunity came, and we’re ready.”
But this isn’t an unfamiliar feeling for Rodriguez, who faced Team Cain Velasquez teammate Rudolfo Rubio on “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America.” So having gone through that experience, Rodriguez says it actually makes things easier when he’s cordial with his opponent.
“When I was in ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ house, I had to face one teammate, and it’s probably better,” Rodriguez said. “It’s probably whenever it comes to that because there’s no feelings towards the other guy – no bad feelings or anything like that. I don’t have bad energy from Brian, and I think that makes it easier.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ABC 3.