With his second-round submission of perennial championship hopeful Cub Swanson, Brian Ortega put his own title dreams front and center.
“T-City” submitted Swanson with a guillotine choke 3:22 into the second round in the UFC Fight Night 123 main event at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., on Saturday night. The victory was Ortega’s fifth straight in the Octagon and improved him to 12-0 with one no contest overall in his professional tenure.
Had Swanson been victorious, he would have undoubtedly called for a future crack at featherweight gold. After earning the signature victory of his career, Ortega is no different — and he is willing to wait to get his shot.
“I want to see how Frankie Edgar is feeling. No disrespect to any fighter. I know this is a job; it is for me as well. I know he’s been around the game for a while and he’s had a lot of shots at the title. I feel like he deserves one more for his career,” Ortega said on Fox Sports 1. “He’s done great. I’m willing to just wait. I’m gonna go with my team, get better, keep perfecting my craft and come back in 2018 and see if I can secure that belt.”
Reigning champion Max Holloway is coming off his first successful title defense in a rematch against Jose Aldo in the UFC 218 headliner. Holloway was originally scheduled to face Edgar at the event before “The Answer” withdrew due to injury. It seems likely that the promotion will rebook Edgar against Holloway at some point in 2018.
While Ortega has set himself up nicely in the featherweight division, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for “T-City” on Saturday night. Swanson looked extremely comfortable on his feet throughout, outlanding his opponent by a 60-to-24 count in significant strikes on the evening. Still, Ortega was able to hang tough in the exchanges.
“I felt good. I felt his punches. I was taking them,” Ortega said. “He was very slippery. I knew he was going to be like that. I was trying to play the game. Every time I threw he was slipping and moving. He was well prepared for my style. I’ve got a chin. I can take a hit. I thought he was going to try to stand and bang with me, try to get like a Doo Ho Choi fight going on, but he was just moving around too much. I wanted to bang, but I could tell he was being more strategic. I just had to figure out his pace, and once I did, I figured out that he was more submission prone than knockout prone. I had to switch the brain up and go for the kill.”
Ortega got an initial idea of where his advantage would lie late in round one, when he quickly ensnared Swanson in choke and applied a serious squeeze on the ground. However, time was limited in the frame and Swanson was able to survive.
“I could feel him gargling a little bit and I knew the 10-second mark was there, and I was like, ‘Come on man.’ I squeezed for dear life,” Ortega said. “I was counting in my head….And then I was like, ‘This guy’s holding on. He’s a veteran. He’s tricky.’ So that’s it. I’m gonna chill, I’m gonna take advantage of this and I’m gonna get him in the second round.”
After trading with Swanson for a while in round two, that’s exactly what Ortega was able to do, as he sucked his foe into the clinch, jumped guard and secured an arm-in guillotine. Swanson struggled to escape, but Ortega simply tightened his grip. Moments later, Swanson had no choice but to call it a night.
“At the end of the first round I realized his neck was out there and I could grab it. I knew in the second round I’m just gonna clinch up and when I get the neck I’m gonna wrap it up,” Ortega said. “And that’s what I did.”