Brian Ortega took two years off and then came back as a new and improved version of T-City. He put on a masterful performance Saturday in a unanimous decision victory (50-45 on all three judges' scorecards) over Chan Sung Jung in the main event of UFC Fight Night from the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi.
Cage rust was an afterthought as Ortega demonstrated a new look with a bald head and a new bag of tricks against an opponent with whom he has had a contentious rivalry.
T-City 2.0 was absolutely marvelous as he showcased improved striking that never allowed "The Korean Zombie" to pose much of a threat. It was obvious from the first round that this was a different version of Ortega, who was last seen in the Octagon in December 2018 when he suffered his first loss at the hands of then-champion Max Holloway. The 29-year-old former title contender took the time off to heal, go back to the lab and add several new wrinkles to his game.
The former Jiu-Jitsu practitioner is now a well-rounded offensive threat who will next get a chance to showcase his skills in a title fight against Alexander Volkanovski.
Although Ortega and Jung had a rivalry that stretched over a year and included a police report being filed against Ortega for allegedly slapping Jung's translator, K-Pop singer Jay Park, while ringside at UFC 248, the Californian never allowed emotion to bleed into the fight. Instead, he remained poised with his approach and fed "The Korean Zombie" a healthy diet of jabs, hooks and leg kicks.
Jung was unable to muster much offense outside of a leg kick, and when he committed to coming forward, he was met with a stiff jab and a savage spinning elbow that sent him to the canvas at the end of the second round. The sheer variety of offense that Ortega utilized was breathtaking; Jung simply couldn't figure out what was coming next. When he seemed to get a read on the jab, Ortega would feint a takedown. When Jung didn't bite on the takedown attempt, Ortega would shoot.
This impressive performance put Ortega right back into position to have the gold wrapped around his waist.
In the co-main event, Jessica Andrade made a successful return to the women's flyweight division with a brutal first-round knockout of No. 1 contender Kaitlyn Chookagian.
Andrade departed the division in 2016 and captured gold as a strawweight in 2019 with a highlight-reel slam knockout of Rose Namajunas. She was similarly emphatic in her return to flyweight as she crushed Chookagian with a body shot at the end of the first round and followed it with another hook to the ribs that collapsed her foe and ended the night at 4:55 of the frame.
The victory was a significant one for the Brazilian as she re-enters a division that is in desperate need of an opponent for champion Valentina Shevchenko. With a punishing knockout of a woman who just competed for the title, it's likely Andrade has punched her ticket to another title opportunity.