Former Gangster Turned UFC Star Brian Ortega Tells Insane Life Story
UFC Star Brian Ortega comes across as one of the more sensible guys in the competition. The 27-year-old speaks well, trains diligently and has had a near-flawless entry into the top-grade of MMA. But the Mexican-American didn’t have it all his own way. A wrong-side-of-the-tracks upbringing saw a life of crime, fighting and misdemeanour that all could have seen him slide down the social ladder into a very different lifestyle. His one saving grace was a lifeline thrown by coach Rener Gracie.
As seen in the below episode of “The Big Breakdown”, Ortega describes what life was life for a poor boy from a poor family. He grew up in section 8 housing project in San Pedro, Los Angeles. He moved around a lot of schools, exhibiting a lot of anger management issues. A distracted, pupil, Ortega found himself in trouble with the law as well as being expelled from several schools. Ortega described his adolescent environment:
“It was survival, Learn where not to be at, so you don’t get shot. Learn where not to walk at, so you don’t get jumped. Learn who to stand up to, who not to. There’s all these rules that go in that environment. Then when I finally got old enough to get a chip on my shoulder, then I wanted to be the alpha dog. I wanted to be the alpha, I wanted to put my work in. And that got me in trouble.”
On one occasion, Ortega, an oversized teenager, outmuscled a teacher who attempted to exercise authority over him. Ortega looks back with embarrassment and remorse as he describes a punk kid who pushed his elderly teacher out the classroom door, falling backwards and hitting his head on the ground. The altercation saw police become involved, but the teacher did not press charges and Ortega got away with it.
Despite being reprimanded by his parents, it wasn’t until his BJJ coach threatened him with expulsion from the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy that Ortega promised to act right and improve his truancy. Not understanding the importance at the time, Ortega now thanks his coach for being so strict with him.
The undefeated star had a rocky start to his UFC career. After finishing Mike de la Torre by submission, the result was overturned for a No Contest, after Ortega tested positive for drostanolone. But after coming back a year later, he remains undefeated and one of the most exciting fighters to grace the cage.
Check out his interview here: