Fight Night 123 kicks off tomorrow at 3;30 PM PST on FightPass
The UFC is setting up their world-famous Octagon in Fresno, CA tomorrow night for a great night of action. In the main event, undefeated Brian Ortega will look to defeat the talented and very durable Cub Swanson. It’s an interesting fight as Ortega seems an expert of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat and Cub doesn’t let fighters off the hook once he has them hurt. Makes for a compelling matchup.
The last time I did this I was a very pedestrian 3-2-1 at the TUF 26 Finale. However, I’m ready to give it another try and I’m certain I’ll do better this time. Let’s get it rolling.
Benito Lopez vs. Albert Morales – Bantamweights
Benito Lopez (8-0) is an undefeated fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in lovely Sacramento, CA. He’s making his official UFC debut after winning a fight on the Dana White Contender’s Series. He won that fight via Split Decision but it was still enough to earn a shot in the UFC. He hasn’t faced as stiff of competition on the California fight circuit and in King of the Cage. It will be a chance to make a splash on the big stage.
Albert Morales (7-2) is another young fighter with a solid upside. He’s had his time in Octagon, this being his sixth fight for the UFC. He’s 2-2 in the UFC since making his debut at UFC Fight Night 94 earning a rare draw in the process. He trains at the famous Black House gym in Southern California.
I think this fight could result in a lot of fun. Morales has more experience, and more important than that he has lots of UFC experience. I know Fresno isn’t Sacremento but it could be a lot of pressure fighting near his home in his official UFC debut. It could also motivate him. I think this fight is pretty close on paper, and I expect that’s how it will play out in the Octagon. In the end, I will give the nod to Lopez.
Benito Lopez over Albert Morales via Unanimous Decision.
Eryk Anders vs. Markus Perez – Middleweights
Eryk Anders (9-0) is an undefeated former LFA Champion. He made his debut in the UFC back in July knocking out veteran Rafael Natal in the first round. In the world of up and coming talent, Eryk is a blue-chip prospect. An amazing athlete he started at linebacker for the University of Alabama and won a National Title there in 2009. In fact, in the national title game, he led Alabama with seven tackles and a forced fumble.
Markus Perez (9-0) is another fighter with a perfect 9-0 record. He’s making his UFC debut after winning the vacant LFA Middleweight title that Anders vacated. Seems Middleweights enjoy vacating their titles. While he is new to the UFC, he’s not new to UFC talent. He defeated Paulo Thiago a couple fights back. Perez is a good submission artist and is very dangerous on the mat.
I like this fight. I think Anders will hold an advantage standing, but if he utilizes his wrestling he could be in danger on the canvas. Perez can throw up multiple subs from all angles and that’s a scary proposition for a grappler. That said, I expect Eryk to look to stand and trade. He has fast, powerful hands and I expect him to overwhelm Perez at some point and earn a big TKO.
Eryk Anders by TKO Round 2.
Scott Holtzman vs. Darrell Horcher – Lightweights
Scott Holtzman (10-2) is an aggressive fighter out of Tennessee who has a UFC record of 3-2 but has never been able to string together consecutive wins. The Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Win, pattern is pretty consistent and he’s coming off of a win in his last outing. Yikes. “Hot Sauce” likes to mix it up and brawl. He excels in the clinch and is relentless on takedowns.
Darrell Horcher (13-2) had the very unfavorable task of facing Khabib Nurmagomedov in his debut with the UFC. After that loss, he did rebound in his last fight defeating Devin Powell via Split Decision. Horcher is the former CFCC Lightweight champion and enters this fight as a slight betting favorite.
I think this fight comes down to whether or not Holtzman can make it a real scrap. Can he clinch Horcher and eat him up with knees and short punches against the fence? If he can, he’s going to be tough to beat. Conversely, if Horcher can utilize his reach advantage and keep it on the outside he has a good shot. I think that Holtzman is going to be too tough for Horcher, and I’m going with him via Unanimous Decision.
Scott Holtzman via Unanimous Decision.
Marlon Moraes vs. Aljamain Sterling – Bantamweights
Marlon Moraes (19-5) is a very good fighter. He experienced limitless success in Professional Fight League and has done well in the UFC going 1-1 against the elite in the division, Rafael Assuncao and defeating John Dodson via a razor-thin Split Decision. Marlon is a very well-rounded fighter and has good standup and great grappling. He can be dangerous to anyone at 135.
Aljamain Sterling (14-2) is a fun fighter who trains with Matt Serra, Ray Longo, Chris Weidman and others in New York at Serra BJJ. Sterling was on a rocket ship to the top of the division before back to back losses brought him back to earth. He dropped back to back Split Decisions with Bryan Caraway and Rafael Assuncao. Since those losses, however, he’s rebounded to win back to back fights. His strengths are his cardio, his grappling and his coaching.
Marlon is the betting favorite here, but I think Sterling can win this fight if he fights smart. He has a significant reach advantage and if he uses that to establish both a steady jab and a series of kicks, he can keep Moraes off balance. Moraes will try and pressure Sterling and would probably like the fight on the ground. I think Sterling makes a big impact here and wins this one.
Aljamain Sterling by TKO Round 3.
Jason Knight vs. Gabriel Benitez – Featherweights
Jason Knight (20-3) is a great fighter with a 4-2 record inside the Octagon. He lost his debut to Kawajiri and dropped his last bout to Ricardo Lopez. He’ll look to rebound against Benetiz. Jason Knight has good striking and submissions. He brings a high pace and lots of pressure.
Gabriel Benitez (19-6) trains out of AKA in San Jose, CA so he doesn’t have too far to travel for this fight. He’s a tough fighter as you might expect coming out of AKA and will be looking to keep the pressure off of him and work the clinch and land some takedowns. Once he gets you on the mat, he’s going to starting looking for submissions, including his favorite, the Guillotine Choke. He’s going to have to survive some early attacks but if he can get the fight into the later rounds, he’ll be doing good.
I think this fight is more even than the oddsmakers who have Knight a pretty clear favorite. I do think however that Knight has the talent advantage and more ways to win the fight.
I’m going Jason Knight via submission in the 2nd Round.
Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega – Bantamweights
Cub Swanson (25-7) might have been unhappy to not get a shot recently at Max Holloway, but a win here will almost certainly get him a rematch with Max and a shot at the Featherweight title. Swanson has been on a tear, winning four in a row and eight of his last ten. He holds victories over Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier, Jeremy Stephens, and had a fight of the year victory over Doo Ho Choi at Fight Night 108. He’s a ferocious striker and has devastating kicks and knees. He can also wrestle and is well-versed in submissions. He has cardio as well. He’s as dangerous as it gets at 135 pounds.
Brian Ortega (12-0) is seemingly unable to lose. He’s been on the edge of losing numerous times, but always, finds a way to win. This is a huge fight for him, as he headlines a card and has a chance to test himself against an elite fighter. He defeated Clay Guida but this is far an away his biggest test to date as a professional. Ortega always seems one move away from winning. He can be on the verge of being stopped, and find a submission out of nowhere. He’s dangerous in the manner that he doesn’t know how to lose. He will need to be on top of his game to compete with Cub.
This one is just Cub Swanson being Cub Swanson. I expect Cub to hurt Brian in the late first or second round and when he does, Ortega won’t wiggle free off the hook. Cub’s a finisher an if and when he hurts you, you stay hurt. I just think Cub as too many weapons here for Ortega who I fully expect at some point to be a contender for the title.
Cub Swanson by TKO or Choke after a knockdown, Round 3.
To see the entire fight card, follow this link.