Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega could be one of the most strangely well-matched contests in recent history. Both Swanson and Ortega enter UFC Fight Night 123 on four-fight winning streaks, although they have been winning their contests in entirely different ways.
Height: 5’8″ (173cm)
Reach: 70.0″ (178cm)
After losing to Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway consecutively, Cub Swanson has since won four consecutive fights in the hope of achieving a shot at the UFC Featherweight Championship eventually. Before meeting Edgar, he had managed wins against Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier, and Jeremy Stephens, but clearly wasn’t able to hang with the truly top of the division in Holloway and Edgar, losing both by submission.
Swanson’s brawl with Doo Ho Choi at UFC 206 is about as memorable as it gets. Despite overwhelming “The Korean Superboy” with strikes over three rounds, he was never able to put the challenger away. In fact, the South Korean had a few unforgettable moments of his own and managed to stun Swanson at multiple stages in the second round. Swanson backed up this performance with a sustained beatdown of Artem Lobov at UFC Fight Night 108 in April but never threatened to put Lobov away either.
Height: 5’9″ (175cm)
Reach: 69.0″ (175cm)
Brian Ortega’s time in the UFC has been equally as successful as it has strange. Despite clearly being behind in the majority of his contests, he has still managed to put together four consecutive stoppage wins in the third round. Most recently, Renato Moicano connected with clean and powerful combinations on Ortega through the first two rounds but eventually tired and shot in for a takedown that would cost him the fight.
Before that, Ortega found himself behind against Clay Guida until he turned it on in the final moments of the contest and hammered a flying knee into the head of Guida that ended the contest.
There’s nothing easy about breaking down Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega.
First of all, Ortega has been losing on the scorecards against Moicano and Guida consecutively in predominantly stand-up contests. Moicano and Guida are levels below Swanson’s stand-up, yet they tagged Ortega repeatedly to no effect. “T-City” seems to have one of the best chin’s in the division and Swanson will surely test it this weekend.
But even in the stand-up exchanges, Ortega has remained competitive. He uses head movement to slip punches and counter with heavy shots of his own. Despite his massive advantage on the mat, he prefers to stand and trade with opponents. He doesn’t fear takedowns because of his excellent jiu-jitsu and this means that he is able to walk forward and pressure his opponents.
Swanson, on the other hand, is at his best when he dictates the pace. He seems to struggle fighting off the back foot and uses his forward momentum to set up his usually creative and powerful strikes. In the middle of the cage, he springs off his back foot to launch punches before returning to a safe distance.
Cub Swanson is definitely going to land his punches on “T-City”, but it’s just a question of whether or not he can land with fight-finishing impact. If he can’t, Ortega will continue to storm forward and with his record of third-round finishes, who knows what will happen as the fight progresses deep into the 25 minutes this weekend.
The way that these two match-up against each other makes for a very exciting fight.
Ortega has the durability to survive Cub Swanson’s best blows, but he might not be able to overcome the scorecards in this contest.
Prediction: Cub Swanson by unanimous decision
Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega
Cub Swanson to Win
Saturday, December 9 – 11:50 pm (ET) / 4:50am (GMT)
Odds: -108 – BetOnline