Brian Ortega’s shoulder injury delivers Yair Rodriguez win in UFC main event
One moment, Brian Ortega was bringing the fight into his world. The next moment, Yair Rodriguez was celebrating.
But it wasn’t the thrilling finish the sellout crowd of 16,979 fans at UBS Arena hoped for from the UFC’s return to Long Island, as a suspected Ortega shoulder dislocation secured Rodriguez a first-round TKO after just 4:11 of action.
“When I went to the floor, I went for the armbar, and I was trapping him really tight with his arm,” Rodriguez told reporters. “And I think in the moment he was trying to get the arm out from there, I saw him doing a face and was like, OK, something happened.”
The injury interrupted what had been a fast start on the feet followed by several minutes of more labored clinch work. Ortega, a dangerous submission threat, had scored a takedown on Rodriguez, a flashy striker, and looked to move to a more dominant position.
All of a sudden, Ortega flopped to his back and clutched his right shoulder as the referee waved off the bout.
“I don’t know how this happened. I wanted to keep going,” said a disappointed Ortega afterward in the octagon, noting he already has had two previous shoulder surgeries and was concerned about another.
“I tried to clear the leg and then my arm just popped out.”
After the adrenaline rush of the referee stoppage waned, Rodriguez settled down to ask Ortega — whom Rodriguez considers a friend — about what happened.
Both men expressed interest in a rematch after the unusual finish. Rodriguez had said during the week that he’d been told a title shot against Alexander Volkanovski would be in the cards with a victory, although the nature of the win could alter plans.
UFC president Dana White, speaking to the media after the bout, said he liked the suggestion of a Rodriguez interim title fight against contender Josh Emmett. Volkanovski suffered a hand fracture in his title defense earlier this month.
In the strawweight co-main event of a rare afternoon UFC main card — because it was aired by ABC for the first time since last year — Amanda Lemos forced a tap-out via guillotine choke on Michelle Waterson-Gomez in the second round.