UFC’s Brian Ortega claims he couldn’t hear the ref, so he held on to the submission longer than needed

Brian Ortega picked up a thrilling win over Yair Rodriguez via third round submission at the recent UFC Fight Night: Moreno vs Royval 2. However, the ending had some controversy when Ortega seemed to hold onto his triangle choke for several seconds even as referee Marc Goddard attempted to stop the match.

In the press conference after the match, Ortega revealed he actually could not hear Goddard due to some pre-existing issues with his eardrums.

Leading up to the match, Ortega had felt some discomfort in his ears: “Starting from yesterday with the weigh cut, I could feel my eardrums, they didn’t really like, I had to do this a lot to to kinda blow them out a lot.”

So when he cinched in the tight triangle against Rodriguez, he clenched his jaw tightly and zoned completely into submission.

As Ortega describes it: “When I went in there, I kinda just dove deep and I clenched my jaw and I couldn’t really hear anything. And to me like, the only way I can describe it is I zoned out. I just squeezed for dear life, and it was like whatever you do, don’t let go.”

So with his eardrums bothering him and his sole focus on locking in the choke, Ortega basically entered a zone where he blocked out all other senses.

Ortega held the choke for what seemed an uncomfortably long time before finally letting go. He was apologetic after that, acknowledging his mistake.

Ortega said: “And I guess I kinda went in there a little too much. And after that I apologized to the ref and everybody. I said I’m sorry.”

So it seems like Ortega’s pre-existing ear troubles combined with his absolute focus on finishing contributed to the awkward ending. It likely all boiled down to the heat of an intense bout where his senses narrowed to just getting the win by any means necessary.