December 8, 2017

Brian Ortega vs. Cub Swanson Is The Prototypical "Old Guard" vs. "New Guard" Showdown

By Raphael Garcia

In combat sports there’s a trend whereby younger fighters have to forcibly supplant the older generation as they push up the rankings ladder. That dynamic is presented to the public on Saturday night when Cub Swanson is booked to face Brian Ortega at UFC Fight Night 123.

Swanson vs. Ortega is the prototypical “old guard” versus “new blood” matchup. At 34 years old, Swanson brings 32 professional fights in 13 years of competition into the cage. That’s nearly 3 times the fights that 12-0 Ortega has on his resume, and nearly twice the time in the sport. But according to MMA Oddsbreaker, Ortega is a -115 to -112 favorite heading into this weekend’s action. While that seems to be enticing odds, Swanson isn’t the type of competitor that should be taken so lightly.

In his last two bouts, Swanson was matched up against two fighters who were expected to become valuable assets for the UFC: Artem Lobov and Doo Ho Choi. Yet Swanson controlled Lobov like the veteran he is, and he put on a Fight of the Year candidate against Choi. At a point where some feel that MMA competitors start to decline, Swanson has looked the best that he has in recent years. And when talking about Swanson, that phrase is synonymous with "dangerous."

His opponent “T-City” is a prospect that has built excitement during his five-fight UFC run. In those five fights -- and five finishes -- Ortega has consistently looked good and improved his skills. One major concern is that he takes a lot of damage and risks, but those opportunities have opened up the path to all of his victories. That’s a very dangerous route against a hard-hitter such as Swanson, but there are angles to Ortega’s game that make him a threat to the WEC and UFC veteran.

The big question is: where does this fight take place? On the feet, Swanson holds the bigger advantage, but if this fight hits the floor, that advantage switches over to Ortega. Ortega has shown that he’s willing to take risks to get the fight to the floor and Swanson has struggled mightily in that position. In Swanson’s last two losses, to Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway, both men found a way to control Swanson on the mat and submit him in highlight-reel fashion. Ortega has the ground abilities to do the same, which builds an interesting dynamic into this bout.

Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega is a fight that has appeal for both mainstream and hardcore fans. These two fighters always step into the cage with the intention of putting on exciting affairs. They are both also positioned to make a move toward the top of the featherweight division. Swanson isn't ready to give up his slot to the younger generation coming in behind him, but he will have to prove that against Ortega. Ortega, on the other hand, has the skill set to develop into a champion, but Swanson is the biggest test that he will face to date. We'll see who comes out on top on Saturday night.

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