UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Ortega Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Fresno, Calif.
Updated: Dec. 7, 2017 • 2:52 PM ET
Cub Swanson is trying to earn a featherweight title shot.
When Frankie Edgar was forced to withdraw from the main event of UFC 218 due to injury, there were many fighters hoping to get the call to face Max Holloway for the featherweight title. Cub Swanson was one of those fighters and vehemently campaigned for the title shot, but the UFC ultimately granted Jose Aldo a second shot at defeating Holloway, and Swanson was forced to wait.
“It was between me and Frankie (for the original title shot), and then Frankie got it, and it was a tough pill to swallow, and I got over it,” Swanson said in November on The MMA Hour. “And I thought for sure, if anybody wouldn’t pull out of a fight, it would be him, because I think he’s the kind of guy who would fight through a torn knee or anything. But I guess he has a fracture in his face or something like that, and that’s something that you can’t fight through, so I was shocked when I found out that he was pulling out, and then I was like, ‘Wow, this going to happen.’
“I had such an amazing camp. I helped T.J. (Dillashaw) train for his fight. Over here at Jackson’s now, I’m ahead of schedule. This is just too perfect. And I was trying to get a hold of the UFC, let them know, and they told me that they were trying to figure it all out, it’s kinda madness. And then they told me that they were going to give it to Aldo.”
At the time of Edgar’s departure, Swanson was already training for a headlining fight against Brian Ortega on Dec. 9, so he was ready to step in. Perhaps being passed over for a title fight will light an extra fire under Swanson as he now prepares for his fight with Ortega on Saturday. Or, will the featherweight contender test free agency?
Swanson told ESPN’s Five Rounds podcast in October that he isn’t renewing his contract after the fight because he feels his pay could be more rewarding.
“It’s just a power move,” Swanson said. “Of course, I want to get paid more, especially now with a daughter and having to take care of the family,” Swanson said. “But the thing people don’t understand is I’ve got to a point where I’m making good money and it’s enough to live on, but it’s not retirement money. Not even close.
"I've been doing this for 13 years and I'm in the prime of my career, but at some point it's going to dip off, and I'd like to walk away before I start having really bad performances -- with enough money in my account to make the smart investments and do the right things. I just want that opportunity for everything I’ve done.”
Swanson is riding a four-fight win streak with two consecutive Fight of the Night performances, and his fight against Dooho Choi won Fight of the Year in 2016. Ranked fourth in the featherweight division, Swanson is 10-3 in the UFC and his losses have come to champion Holloway, Edgar and former title challenger Ricardo Lamas. A win over No. 6 ranked featherweight Ortega would certainly bring interesting offers not only from the UFC, but from other organizations as well.
Ortega believes a win in this fight will finally put him on everyone’s radar.
“This is a game where you need to have a high name,” Ortega told Fox Sports. “I feel like, with this fight, it can put me on the map as one of the elite of the elite. Anyone who’s in the Top 3 is always getting a lot of publicity.
“Ultimately, I feel like I’m doing everything right. I’m slowly but surely climbing up the ladder. I’m taking out bigger names with every fight. Not just beating them on a point level, I’m finishing every single one of my opponents. I beat Cub, the world will know who I am.”
Ortega is 4-0 in the UFC with one fight ruled a no contest. He has won his last four fights by finish and Fight of the Night honors twice. Swanson represents the toughest test to date for the 26-year-old, and a win would likely send Ortega into the top 5 of the division.
FS1 Main Card
Featherweight fight - No. 15 Jason Knight vs. Gabriel Benitez
Bantamweight fight - No. 7 Marlon Moraes vs. No. 8 Aljamain Sterling
Lightweight fight - Scott Holtzman vs. Darrell Horcher
Middleweight fight - Eryk Anders vs. Markus Perez
Bantamweight fight - Albert Morales vs. Benito Lopez
Women’s flyweight fight - No. 10 Alexis Davis vs. No. 11 Liz Carmouche
Bantamweight fight - Luke Sanders vs. Andre Soukhamthath
Flyweight fight - Carls John De Thomas vs. Alex Perez
Bantamweight fight - Frankie Saenz vs. Merab Dvalishvili
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Bantamweight fight - Alejandro Perez vs. Iuri Alcantara
Lightweight fight - Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Davi Ramos
Middleweight fight - Antonio Braga Neto vs. Trevin Giles