Next Wednesday (Jan. 15, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight contenders John Moraga and Dustin Ortiz will square off on the main card of UFC Fight Night 35 from The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia.
Moraga comes into the bout off a fifth round submission loss to UFC 125-pound champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC on Fox 8 in July 2013. It was a tough lesson in mixed martial arts (MMA) for the young MMA Lab-trained product, but he's still ranked at No. 4.
Moraga's only losses were to the two absolute best 125-pound fighters in the world, Johnson and John Dodson.
No. 15-ranked Ortiz has his hands full, but he also has a golden opportunity to score a huge upset in Georgia. He won his Octagon debut at UFC Fight Night 32, finishing Jose Maria Tome with a third round technical knockout to extend his win streak to three. He'll look to explode his way onto the Top-10 with a victory over Moraga.
Let's take a look at the key details for Moraga and Ortiz:
Record: 13-2 overall, 2-1 UFC
Key Wins: Chris Cariaso (UFC 155), Ulysses Gomez (UFC on Fox 4)
Key Losses: Demetrious Johnson (UFC on Fox 8), John Dodson (Nemesis Fighting: MMA Global Invasion)
Record: 12-2 overall, 1-0 UFC
Key Wins: Jose Maria Tome (UFC Fight Night 32)
Key Losses: Ian McCall (Tachi Palace Fights 9)
Moraga brings a strong wrestling skillset to the Octagon, having attained All-American status during his time at Arizona State University. He's also shown the ability to finish the fights on the ground with six submissions. Ortiz has never been submitted or knocked out, so Moraga may look to grind out a victory by pushing the action up against the fence.
Ortiz is going to need great takedown defense to keep this fight standing. If he can, he'll open up an opportunity to unleash his knockout power.
But, Moraga has never been stopped from strikes, making this an incredibly tough bout for either fighter to finish with their preferred method. The well-rounded Ortiz is also proficient on the ground and could surprise Moraga.
This bout is going to be pivotal for the future of the UFC flyweight division. Moraga may have been fed to the wolves a bit too soon against Johnson, so Ortiz will be a good gauge of where he's at.
With Johnson maintaining an iron grip on the division for the time being, the lower-ranked contenders are left to struggle for position.
Moraga should be the favorite to control this bout with relative ease. Can Ortiz stay upright long enough to score the huge upset?