It was a year of ups and downs in 2014 for Dustin Ortiz.

After falling to John Moraga via split decision, Ortiz reeled off split decision wins over Ray Borg and Justin Scoggins. He concluded the year, though, with a decision loss to Joseph Benavidez.

Ortiz kicked his 2015 off Saturday night with a third round finish of Willie Gates in his home-state of Tennessee at UFC Fight Night 73.

“I felt the nerves, but the crowd gave it to me,” said Ortiz, a native of Franklin, Tennessee. “This is the start of my time and I am doing it here in Nashville.

“This meant everything to me. It was a long layoff. (The UFC) set me out, I didn’t choose that. I got smarter as a fighter and brought back old-school Dustin Ortiz.”

It marked the 14th straight time Ortiz (15-4) has went to at least the third round, but this was his first stoppage win since a 2013 victory over Jose Maria Tome.

He was scheduled to meet Ian McCall, but a training injury knocked “Uncle Creepy” out.

“I’ve asked for so many fighters,” he said. “I haven’t received one of them. The UFC knows what they are doing.”