The featherweight bout was part of the main card of today’s UFC Fight Night 68 event at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. It aired on FOX Sports 1 following prelims on FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass.
Tavares (19-6-1 MMA, 9-6-1 UFC) came out aggressively in Round 1, landing a solid right hand before a head kick and then scoring with a quick takedown. Ortega (9-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) immediately transitioned to an armbar. With Tavares defending the armbar, Ortega attempted to switch to a triangle choke which, again, he was not able to finish on the veteran Tavares.
Having defended the first flurry of submissions from Ortega, Tavares began opening up with his ground and pound attack.
Ortega sliced the forehead of Tavares with an elbow off his back and then used an armbar threat to sweep and end up in the full mount. Tavares muscled his way out of the position, getting to his feet and immediately putting Ortega on his back once again.
The fight would go back to the feet briefly with both men throwing good strikes before Tavares scored with another takedown as Round 1 came to a close.
Round 2 opened with Tavares remaining committed to his gameplan of putting Ortega on his back, which he did, putting Ortega into the cage and landing some good ground and pound. Tavares then moved to full mount and began to attack before an Ortega reversal put him in danger of a leg lock, taking the fight back to the feet.
Tavares continued to pour blood from two cuts, one on his forehead and one above his left eye. The doctor checked the cuts after Round 2 ended and allowed it to continue into the final frame.
The two fighters came out for a final round which may well have decided the fight firing leg kicks and power punches. Ortega used the fence to launch himself forward with a superman punch. A low blow from Tavares led to a break in the action but Ortega was able to resume fairly quickly and landed some solid punches.
Tavares drove through a takedown, but Ortega didn’t allow himself to get put fully on his back. The fight went back to distance on the feet and Tavares ate a big left hand from Ortega that knocked out his mouthpiece.
With little more than a minute left in Round 3, Ortega landed a huge series of punches, dropping Tavares and then took mount, firing away until the fight was stopped by the referee.
The stoppage came at the 4:10 mark of Round 3.
“I feel like we were in a crazy war,” Ortega said. “I’m ready to go home and see my family and my kids. We put up a big fight. Obviously, I was on the bottom, so I had to adjust and get used to that situation and make the best out of it from there – which were elbows and feet. I had to try to catch submissions. I don’t really remember the finish. He kneed me and that hurt, but I saw that he was tired. I knew that was my chance to get him.”
Ortega defeated Mike De La Torre in his UFC debut only to see the result overturned after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs in his post-fight drug test.
Tavares entered the fight riding a two-fight winning streak, defeating Robbie Peralta and Justin Salas in his previous two outings.
Up-to-the-minute UFC Fight Night 68 results include:
- Brian Ortega def. Thiago Tavares via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 4:10
- Anthony Birchak def. Joe Soto via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 1:37
- Francisco Rivera def. Alex Caceres via knockout (punches) – Round 1, 0:21
- Shawn Jordan def. Derrick Lewis via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 0:48
- Omari Akhmedov def. Brian Ebersole via TKO (injury) – Round 1, 5:00
- Chris Wade def. Christos Giagos via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Joe Proctor def. Justin Edwards via technical submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3, 4:58
- Jake Collier def. Ricardo Abreu via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Jose Quinonez def. Leonardo Morales via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:34