Brian Ortega Submits Cub Swanson in Main Event But Willing to Wait on Title Shot

Brian Ortega emerged as a new contender in the featherweight division with his win over Cub Swanson on Saturday night

The featherweight division has a new contender.

On Saturday night, Brian Ortega picked up the biggest win of his career as he tapped out Cub Swanson in the second round of their main event matchup in Fresno.

While Ortega was considered the dark horse coming into the division, he was actually the favorite on the betting lines as he took on a true veteran in Swanson, who was not only trying to earn a title shot but also gambling on himself as this was the final fight on his current deal with the UFC.

Swanson definitely looked confident early as he came out swinging at Ortega with his signature striking style that was aggressive and powerful with every shot thrown. To his credit, Ortega was composed in the pocket and didn’t panic at the barrage of punches Swanson continued to throw at him.

Late in the opening round, Ortega saw his first opening to drag the fight to the mat where he could showcase his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt when he latched onto Swanson for an anaconda choke that nearly earned him the finish. Swanson was definitely in trouble on the ground but time ran out before Ortega could get the finish.

As the second round got underway, Ortega had no intention of running into that same problem again when he caught Swanson in another scramble against the cage and this time saw an opening for a guillotine choke.

Ortega grabbed Swanson’s neck and quickly jumped into his guard, while pulling at the submission to try and get the finish. Swanson survived momentarily but Ortega only tightened his grip and a second later he got the tap with end of the fight coming at 3:22 into the second round.

Ortega is now 13-0 with one no contest in his career while picking up his fifth win in a row in the UFC — all by knockout or submission — and he manages to take out his first top five opponent in the rankings.

While Ortega could easily make an argument to fight for the title against champion Max Holloway in his next bout, he instead deferred to top ranked contender Frankie Edgar, who was supposed to fight for the belt last week but was forced to drop off the card due to injury.

“So I know Frankie Edgar got injured, I’m not cocky enough, I’m going to respectfully wait for him to get his shot with Max Holloway,” Ortega said. “See how that goes and hopefully I can just wait it out a little bit and the winner between them, I can get the shot at if it’s a possibility.”

The only difficulty Ortega might have now is playing the waiting game to find out how long it might be before the UFC could schedule Holloway vs. Edgar — if that’s the route they go — and if he would be willing to fight again before getting a title shot.

As for Swanson, he now enters a period of uncertainty with his current UFC contract completed but he’s also coming off a loss, which will lessen his negotiating power with the promotion. Swanson has criticized the UFC lately, especially when it comes to salary demands, so it will be very interesting to see where he ends up after his latest fight on Saturday night.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.