Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight finishers Cub Swanson and Brian Ortega will clash TONIGHT (Dec. 9, 2017) inside Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.
Swanson has been telling anyone who will listen that he deserves the next title shot, and he has a fair argument behind his claim. The circumstances are somewhat stacked against him, but “Killer Cub” has a chance tonight to prove his worth even further. Meanwhile, Ortega hasn’t been consistently winning rounds, but his record is nonetheless perfect inside the Octagon. “T-City” has proven to be an aggressive and capable finisher both on the feet and on the mat, perfect for a five-round showdown.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
Key Wins: Doo Ho Choi (UFC 206), Jeremy Stephens (UFC Fight Night 44), Hacran Dias (UFC on FOX 19), Charles Oliveira (UFC 152)
Key Losses: Max Holloway (UFC on FOX 15), Frankie Edgar (UFC Fight Night 57). Ricardo Lamas (UFC on FOX 1)
Keys to Victory: Currently riding a four-fight win streak that features some of his career-best performances, Swanson has really refined the art of controlled chaos. He’s a wild striker with intelligence behind those movements, and Swanson has long been an underrated grappler as well.
Swanson is the most skilled and most experienced kickboxer that Ortega has ever faced, and that could be the difference in this bout. Just last week, we saw an ultra tough, offense-first fighter in Justin Gaethje broken down and finished by a true veteran in Eddie Alvarez.
Just like Gaethje, Ortega relies on physical and mental toughness to eat shots and drown his opponent in return volume. Swanson needs to take a page from Alvarez’s book by targeting the body, but Swanson has the edge of being a great kicker as well.
Breaking down Ortega’s mid-section and lead leg is the easiest way to remove that danger factor he carries into fights. Toughness and conditioning just don’t matter when you have a hard time drawing in a breath due to liver strikes or cannot push of the lead leg because the muscles won’t respond. If Swanson takes advantage of the 25 minutes provided by ripping the lead leg with kicks and mid-section with both kicks and punches, he’ll very likely take over in the later rounds against a far less volatile “T-City.”
Record: 12-0 (1)
Key Wins: Renato Moicano (UFC 214), Clay Guida (UFC 199), Thiago Tavares (UFC Fight Night 68), Diego Brandao (UFC 195)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Ortega is a pressure fighter with some of the division’s best Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He has absolutely no fear of the takedown, allowing him to push forward and throw hands with few worries of being put on his back or wrestled.
In each of the four wins on Ortega’s current win streak, he’s put almost zero effort into actually scoring a takedown. He’s dipped low with the intentions of setting up a strike, but committing his weight and momentum to a real shot? Nope.
Against Swanson, it would be wise for Ortega to mix in takedowns at least a little bit. He can keep the aggressive, boxing-heavy approach that has worked so well for him, but there’s absolutely no reason not to try to get Swanson in a bad position.
Swanson loves to fight. He’s willing to throw wild techniques that put him in bad position. Ortega’s submission game is masterful, and it would be a waste not to attempt a back take during opposite a spin or catch a kick and try to convert into a takedown. Even if none of that works to get Swanson down, it helps set up his other strikes if there’s a realistic takedown threat.
Bottom Line: It’s a very important fight that’s nearly guaranteed to be fun.
Swanson biggest issue right now is that he was already passed up once for Frankie Edgar. Edgar’s injury kept him out of that title fight, and once more the two fighters are head-to-head for the next title shot. Swanson needs more than a win here to gain the advantage, he requires an incredible performance or highlight reel finish if he’s to slip past “The Answer.”
Sadly, a loss ruins Swanson’s momentum and sets him far behind, the unfair reality of competing in a talent-rich division.
Is Ortega likely to leapfrog Edgar with a win? Probably not, but victory still advances the submission ace into the Top 5. In all likelihood, a title eliminator would be next for Ortega, and an eventual bout with Max Holloway does sound incredibly fun to watch. Meanwhile, a loss won’t see him fall down the rankings, but losing that undefeated shine always stings, and Ortega will likely be forced to look down the ranks in his next bout rather than up.
TONIGHT at UFC Fight Night 123, Cub Swanson and Brian Ortega will go to war in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?