Featherweight Fireworks? UFC Fresno Preview, Breakdown & Analysis


Although it may not be receiving as much attention as some of the promotion’s recent pay-per-view (PPV) events, UFC Fight Night 123, which is set to take place this Saturday (Dec. 9, 2017) from Fresno, California, boasts a solid lineup of fights that could certainly provide fight fans with an enjoyable night of action.

In the main event, longtime featherweight contender Cub Swanson is set to take on the surging Brian Ortega in a five-round affair. The co-main event, on the other hand, will feature another 145-pound bout between Jason Knight and Gabriel Benitez. Also on the main card, top bantamweights Marlon Moraes and Aljamain Sterling will do battle.

Without further ado, let’s take a deeper look into the event’s marquee fights:

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega

Swanson has long been one of the featherweight division’s most recognizable and most adored fighters, and for good reason.

Currently ranked No. 4 in the 145-pound rankings, Swanson has won 10 UFC bouts, has come dangerously close to earning a title shot multiple times, and is currently riding a four-fight win streak that includes victories over Hacran Dias, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Doo Hoo Choi, and Artem Lobov.

As far as his fighting style goes, Swanson rarely fails to put on an entertaining fight. In fact, his bouts against Choi and Lobov are two of the best fights we’ve seen over the last 12 months.

One of the best pure boxers in the division, “Killer” Cub moves well while putting together crisp and accurate combinations. He’s also not afraid to take risks and has some finishing ability, as four of his UFC victories have come by way of TKO.

It’s important to note, however, that five of Swanson’s seven career losses have come by way of submission, and that’s exactly the area in which Ortega excels.

The 26-year-old dubbed “T-City” entered the UFC just over three years ago and he’s put together a 4-0-1 record including two victories by way of T/KO and two victories by way of submission. The no contest was also originally a submission win for Ortega, but it was overturned after he failed a drug test.

Although he possesses strong submission skills and one of the best guards in the business, Ortega has also improved on the feet. He tends to move forward and pressure his opponents, but he also leaves himself open to counter strikes in the process, which could play to Swanson’s advantage.

Ultimately, I could see this fight going either way. Ortega should look to get the fight to the ground and if he can land a submission or catch Swanson in a scramble, he could finish the fight. However, I’m not sure that’s the most likely outcome.

I expect Swanson to take his time figuring out Ortega before working his boxing and setting the type of pace he wants. “Killer” Cub is no stranger to five round fights and I think his experience will be the difference maker here.

Prediction: Cub Swanson def. Brian Ortega via unanimous decision