When Brian "T-City" Ortega heads to the cage at RFA 12 to face Keoni Koch for the vacant RFA featherweight strap, he will already have earned a belt that means just as much as a world title in MMA. That would be his Black Belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, which he received on Saturday from Rener Gracie and Ryron Gracie at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance, California.
Speaking about the occasion Ortega said, "It's been a long 9 years that I've been training and I always knew this day would come and it finally came. I received my Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. There's no greater feeling than reaching my goal. Thank you for not giving up on me, brothers (Rener Gracie and Ryron Gracie)."
Ortega's love for Gracie Jiu Jitsu and its history was on display in his RFA debut against Jordan Rinaldi this past August. Ortega formed the "Gracie Train", which was the same famous entrance that the Gracie family introduced 20 years earlier with Royce Gracie's fights at UFC 1 with his teammates. That is how Ortega headed to the cage.
That was not the end of his display of Jiu-Jitsu, because he used his patented triangle to stop Rinaldi for the first time in his professional career. It is no wonder why is MMA nickname is "T-City" since he likes to bring his opponents into his world and finish them off with a triangle.
It was only four years ago, when Ortega first came to notoriety as a jiu-jitsu phenom when he was featured alongside Rener Gracie in the Gracie Academy YouTube videos. In the instructional video, an 18-year-old Ortega demonstrated a Flying Triangle and it was clear that the Gracie brothers had a special talent on their hands.
Ortega and connection to the Gracies started when he begun training in jiu jitsu at 13 years old in the same gym that Royce Gracie got his start in two decades earlier.When Ortega first started training one of his partner was none other than this past weekends TUF 18 winner Chris Holdsworth. The two were dubbed the "Next Generation" of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy when the coaches started to see their talent.
Holdsworth went on to train with Marc laimon in Las Vegas before moving again up to northern California to hone his MMA skills with Team Alpha Male. By now everyone knows him for his BJJ skills since they were on full display in his run through the TUF house on his way toward the title.
Exactly one week after Holdsworth won TUF 18, his counterpart Ortega received his own black belt in jiu-jitsu. This also came just three short days after RFA president Ed Soares announced that the now 22-year-old Ortega would be fighting for the RFA featherweight title in his hometown of Los Angeles in the main event of RFA 12.