Where to Lean in Swanson-Ortega at UFC Fight Night 123?

ufc fight night 123

Andreas Hale

Thursday, December 7, 2017 3:57 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 3:57 PM UTC

As the UFC rumbles to the end of 2017, the promotion brings us UFC Fight Night 123 from Fresno, Calif., on Saturday where Cub Swanson will look to put a blemish on the undefeated record of Brian Ortega.

Free UFC Pick: Swanson +100Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Although not as stacked with big names as UFC 218, Saturday's UFC Fight Night 123 card from Fresno still has some value scattered throughout and could have a few sneaky plays to earn you some extra cash heading into the holiday season.

The main event pits a seasoned veteran against a rising talent as Cub Swanson looks to turn back the challenge of unbeaten Brian Ortega. The fight has had a swing in the betting line since opening as Swanson has gone from a -120 favorite to a +100 underdog, while Ortega has shifted from a +100 underdog to a -120 favorite. Perhaps people are looking at the 34-year-old Swanson possibly entering the twilight of his MMA career, while Ortega is really just getting his career going at the age of 26.

What could be the difference-maker in this fight is experience. Although he’s 34, Swanson has faced just about anyone worth mentioning in the featherweight division and is arguably in the second-best upswing of his career. He’s won four in a row — including a hellacious throwdown with Doo Ho Choi last December — and is jockeying for a title shot that he surprisingly has never had. As for Ortega, this will definitely be the biggest step up in competition for him. He’s won four in a row inside of the distance (five, if you include the submission over Mike De La Torre that was ruled a No Contest after Ortega tested positive for banned substance) and has proven to be a more than able grappler.

Ortega will be in uncharted territory as he’ll engage in his first five-round fight, while Swanson has gone five rounds three times in his career. Swanson hasn’t scored a finish inside of distance since 2013 and his last four victories have all been by decision. But Swanson’s biggest advantage will be with his striking, where he is extremely crafty and nimble on the feet. Although Ortega has exceptional jiu-jitsu, he’ll have to find a way to drag the fight to the canvas without being clipped by Swanson. It is important to note that Swanson’s last three losses were all by submission to Max Holloway, Frankie Edgar and Ricardo Lamas. This can be viewed one of two ways: Swanson is susceptible to submissions, or he’s only been submitted by Top 5 competition. I’ll opt for the latter and say that Swanson’s striking will end up being the difference over the course of 25 minutes.

The 'over/under' is intriguing considering that it is +180 for the fight to end in under 2.5 rounds and -220 for it to go over 2.5 rounds. Swanson fights tend to go over 2.5 rounds, whether he wins or loses. As for Ortega, his last four finishes happened in the third round. I’d stay away from this. Swanson is a solid pick here to win.

The other fight worth taking a look at is Aljamain Sterling vs. Marlon Moraes. We just saw Moraes edge out John Dodson on Nov. 11th, but the former World Series of Fighting champion will turn it around in less than a month to replace Rani Yahya. After a torrid run through WSOF, Moraes hasn’t been as successful in the UFC, going 1-1 with a decision loss to Rafael Assuncao and a victory over Dodson. As for Sterlling, he’s won two in a row after dropping decisions to Bryan Caraway and Rafael Assuncao. All signs point to this fight going the distance. But with the over 2.5 rounds at -280, it’s not worth the bet. Sterling remains an underdog at +130 while Moraes is the -150 favorite.

Considering that Sterling is an underrated grappler with an improving striking game that does enough to keep his opponents honest, the New Yorker is a very live underdog here. Moraes is certainly quick and capable with his striking, but there’s a distinct possibility that Sterling finds a way to drag this to the canvas. If that happens, Moraes may not be able to match wits with him on the ground. More important, Moraes is making a quick return after a three round fight with Dodson. Without a true training camp, it’s possible that his cardio will be in question as the fight carries out. I like the underdog here at +130.

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