Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to the hurt business last night (Sat., Dec. 9, 2017) for UFC Fight Night 123, which took place inside Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California. In the main event of the evening, Briant Ortega took it to Cub Swanson, defeating the longtime veteran with a guillotine choke to earn his fifth straight win inside the Octagon. In the co-main event, Gabriel Benitez picked up a huge win over Jason Knight after he picked his foe apart for three rounds.
Winner: Brian Ortega
Who He Should Fight Next: ???
Ortega picked up a huge win by taking out Cub Swanson, but the challenges will only get bigger and tougher moving forward. “T-City” is all for it, though. As for who he should face next, that’s a little unclear at the moment. That’s because Max Holloway’s next title defense is unclear due to Frankie Edgar’s injury. Ricardo Lama’s is always lurking as a potential challenge for Brian, but he is currently tied up against Josh Emmet, as they will do the dance next week at UFC on FOX 26. Should “The Bully” prove victorious, I’d like to see him and Ortega duke it out in the center of the Octagon, as the winner will have a big case to make for a championship fight.
Winner: Marlon Moraes:
Who He Should Fight Next: Bryan Caraway
Moraes picked up his second win under the UFC banner by dismantling Aljamain Sterling in Fresno, knocking out “Funkmaster” with a vicious knee in the very first round. A fight against Caraway seems appropriate, as the former WSOF title holder really has no other option at the moment. Caraway is currently ranked above Moraes, and every other fighter ahead of Marlon is either booked to fight, or has already defeated him. The rest, in particular Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbradnt, have no timetable for a return. I see “No Love” facing Assuncao next, while Cruz is still recovering from a broken arm and Jimmie Rivera and John Linker are set to collide at UFC 219. It may not be the sexiest option, but in the words of Max Holloway “it is what it is.”
Winner: Gabriel Benitez
Who He Should Fight Next: Mirsad Bektic
Benitez upset Knight with a masterful performance in Fresno, taking it to the 145-pound scrapper from start to finish with an array of striking that had him befuddled. The former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) contestant made sure to let Dana White know who he was after the fight, but he will need to do a bit more in order to get to stardom, which he can do. He likely earned a top 15 spot after his win, so a fight against Bektic seems appropriate, as he is currently ranked No. 13. It will be a tough challenge for Gabriel, but since both men like to stand and bang, it will be an entertaining one.
Winner: Scott Holtzman
Who He Should Fight Next: Joseph Duffy
“Hot Sauce’ put on a great performance in his win over Darrel Horcher, to pick up consecutive win number two. Still, Scott has plenty to do before he can get into the rankings conversation, as the Lightweight division is swamped with contender after contender. Up next, I’d like to see him face off against Joseph Duffy. After signing a new deal with UFC, Duffy came up short against James Vick at UFC 217 earlier this year, getting knocked out in the finale moments of round two. Scott isn’t a household name just yet, but a win over Duffy could help to at least start climbing the ladder. For Duffy, it’s an opportunity to shake off the cobwebs and right his ship.
Winner: Eryk Anders
Who He Should Fight Next: John Phillips
Anders improved to 10-0 (2-0 UFC) by cruising past Markus Perez. Now the former LFA middleweight champion will look to collect his third straight win inside the Octagon. He was set to take on John Phillips at the event, so re-booking the bout seems appropriate. While impressive in his first two wins, getting a top 15-ranked opponent isn’t in Eryk’s future just yet. If he can hand Phillips his first loss in two years, then we can talk about it. But there is no denying Anders is going to be a tough draw for anyone.
To get full UFC Fight Night 123: “Swanson vs Ortega” play-by-play updates and results click here.