Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight warriors Cub Swanson and Brian Ortega last night (Dec. 9, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 123 inside the Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.
Swanson entered this bout with the goal of stopping his opponent in violent fashion. It was the only thing his current win streak was without, and it would go a long way in helping Swanson secure that elusive title shot.
That said, Ortega did not come into this bout merely as fodder for Swanson’s highlight reel. “T-City” hasn’t been winning very many rounds, but that doesn’t matter when he routinely rallies late to stop his opponent with either his slick submission skills or aggressive boxing.
The fighters opened the bout a bit slower than expected, trading low kicks. "Killer Cub" struck first with big shots, landing a hard combination and continuing to following up with kicks of increasing power. Ortega seemed fairly unfazed by the shots he was absorbing, but he also had a difficult time finding his distance.
On the whole, Swanson did a great job of denying his foe the boxing range. At distance, he kicked actively, and he only punched in bursts before returning to long range. Everything went quite well for Swanson until the final 15 seconds, when Ortega snapped his head down into an anaconda choke.
The clock ran out before Ortega could finish, but that choke was deep.
Ortega increased his forward pressure to start the round and found some success, but Swanson was largely able to keep his back off the fence and keep landing. He began to connect with more powerful right hands, leading Ortega to push into the clinch.
The jiu-jitsu ace went for some takedowns along the fence and tried to transition into back mount, but Swanson defended well. However, Ortega was able to hook his opponent's head and break his posture briefly. That was all the opening "T-City" needed, as he jumped into the air and began working for the standing guillotine.
Swanson worked frankly to escape, trying to fight hands and buck Ortega off. He very nearly succeeded when Ortega tried to switch to a no-arm guillotine, but the prospect was able hang on. Just seconds later, he was able to squeeze hard and force the tap from a still-standing Cub Swanson.
Ortega's jiu-jitsu is among the best in MMA. He's been training with Renee Gracie since childhood, and it very obviously shows. He has a classic approach to grappling combined with a unique opportunistic nature, and it earned him yet another victory.
To be frank, Ortega was getting his ass beat. Swanson's experience and kickboxing expertise were allowing him to pick apart the game grappler, even if Ortega landed the occasional clean combination.
It was all about BJJ this time around. Whenever Ortega wrapped up the neck, he jumped on it with zero concern for winding up on his back. His squeeze and technique was masterful, and he was able to capitalize on very small openings.
Ortega requested to wait for a title shot, which is reasonable, but I'd also love to see him face the winner of Ricardo Lamas vs. Josh Emmett.
As for Swanson, he looked very sharp. His kickboxing was certainly on point, and he landed some very hard shots. Ortega was too tough to deter, but all those leg and body kicks would have added up if this bout continued on.
Unfortunately, Swanson left an opening that cost him the fight. After the first round, Swanson should have been terrified of any clinch exchanges. He hung out there for a second too long, and Ortega was able to end his win streak.
Featherweight is a truly unforgiving division.
Last night, Brian Ortega submitted his foe in the second round. Is Ortega a future champion?
For complete UFC Fight Night 123 “Swanson vs. Ortega” results and live play-by-play, click HERE!