Josh Emmett Reveals Brian Ortega Passed on Fighting Him at UFC on FOX 28
When Josh Emmett knocked out Ricardo Lamas last December, he immediately turned his attention towards a matchup with fellow top five ranked featherweight Brian Ortega.
Ortega was fresh off a win over Cub Swanson and it seemed like the perfect matchup to make with the winner moving on to fight for the UFC featherweight title.
It turns out, Emmett nearly got his wish as he was offered the main event slot at the upcoming UFC on FOX 28 card against Ortega, but he says the undefeated submission specialist ultimately turned down the fight. Instead, Emmett will now face Jeremy Stephens in the headline spot following his win over Dooho Choi in January.
“I was campaigning for that [Brian] Ortega fight and that was actually the fight that Dana White wanted to make just for the title eliminator. But for whatever reason Ortega didn’t accept it,” Emmett said in an exclusive interview. “It was going to be the same card, the main event on the UFC on FOX 28. After that went away and wasn’t going to happen, I was thinking I wouldn’t fight until April or May and then I’m just back in the gym helping some friends and teammates get ready. I’ve been helping Andre Fili, he fights this weekend, and then I got offered I think it was Tuesday night, they called my managers and asked if I wanted the Jeremy Stephens fight.
“I said for sure but what card are they thinking? They said they want the same card, they need a main event and I said let’s do it. It’s another big opportunity for me that I feel like I can’t pass up.”
Emmett now faces Stephens on Feb. 24 in a five round main event that will air live on FOX.
As for Ortega, he was also confronted by Stephens for a fight following his win over Choi earlier this month. Stephens stated that Ortega passed on that offer as well, favoring to sit and wait to fight for the title against the winner of the upcoming UFC 222 main event between champion Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar.
While Emmett would have loved the chance to face Ortega, he doesn’t hold any ill will towards him for turning down the fight.
Emmett understands that title shots are rare in the UFC so he can’t blame Ortega for waiting but he also knows that if he finishes Stephens in impressive fashion on Feb. 24 there’s a good chance he could leap frog him into that No. 1 contender’s spot.
“They said [Ortega] didn’t accept it and if I put myself in his shoes, I kind of understand why,” Emmett said. “Just because he was next in line for the title and then I came out and did what I did the very next weekend when I fought [Ricardo] Lamas. So I think the UFC was just trying to make Ortega and I fight for the title eliminator but I think if he kind of waits and depending on what happens with [Frankie] Edgar and [Max] Holloway, maybe he’s next in line. Just because he has more of following and you do get a lot more money when you’re a title challenger so I totally understand why he’s doing it but for me I feel like I’m older, I don’t want to sit on the side, I don’t want to wait. I want to stay as active as possible.
“I have that No. 4 next to my name now, but that means nothing to me. Any fight in the UFC is a risky fight. So I want to stay active, I want to get a handful of fights in this year and I still think with an impressive win over Jeremy Stephens, I can’t be denied to be next in line for that title shot.”