Brian Ortega’s rise to the top of the UFC featherweight division featured a host of impressive moments, but arguably few were slicker and more impressive than his finish of longtime contender Cub Swanson at UFC Fight Night 123 back in December 2017.
Both men were eyeing the chance to position themselves for a No. 1 contender fight as they faced off in the main event in Fresno, Calif. But it was Ortega whose skills shone through, as he picked up a second-round guillotine finish to move one step closer to a shot at the title.
The bout started out tentatively, with both men respecting each other’s standup skills, but eventually, Swanson started to open up and let his strikes flow. “Killer Cub” appeared to have the upper hand in the standup exchanges, but Ortega served early notice of what was to come when he locked up a D’Arce choke in the closing seconds of the round that had Swanson in big trouble.
The buzzer saved the veteran from a first-round submission, and Ortega came out of his corner for Round 2 visibly more confident as he looked to walk down Swanson and close the distance once again. Swanson continued to pepper Ortega with strikes, while Ortega fired back with shots of his own, as the fight went back-and-forth on the feet.
Then, with two minutes remaining in the round, Ortega went for Swanson’s neck once again as he locked up a guillotine choke and jumped guard. Swanson stayed on his feet, but Ortega pushed off the fence with his feet and adjusted his position to tighten his grip. It proved to be the crucial moment as Swanson tapped to the choke to give Ortega the 13th straight win of his then-undefeated career.
Reliving his submission after the fight, Ortega explained, “I tried to wrap up, and I felt like it was slipping and he was going to throw me off. Once I re-wrapped, I knew I had it.”
Ortega (14-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) returns to action against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (16-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 38, which takes place Saturday at Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Before he faces “The Korean Zombie,” relive Ortega’s slick submission finish of Swanson via the video above.