UFC Fresno Highlights: Chokes From Nowhere and Knees From Hell

The UFC was in Fresno, CA on Saturday for a headliner of top featherweights in Cub Swanson vs Brian Ortega. We’ll get to some of the best stuff from the night, but let’s recap the main event first.

Brian Ortega came in to this fight looking to break into the top 5, but Cub Swanson had been on a hot streak and kept having amazing fights against very dangerous people. Ortega is a crafty submission artist who hasn’t known a loss or let a fight go the distance in his UFC career. Putting these two against each other was giving a rising star a test of one of the best veterans in the division.

At the beginning of the fight, Swanson was swinging pretty hard and establishing the body shots with some nice leg kicks thrown in. Ortega wasn’t taking much damage, but was getting outscored, which made it look like Swanson was starting to pull away. Then right at the end of the first round, Ortega sinks in a nice choke that probably would have ended the fight if not for the bell. I think that caused him to realize he doesn’t need to stand and trade with Swanson, and to go back to his slick Jiu-Jitsu. Cub did the last thing he should have done, and gave one of the best submission artists his neck for the taking. The end result is about what you’d expect.

I don’t think Ortega jumps over Frankie Edgar for a title shot (I’d actually prefer those two fight for a challenger spot). Maybe if Ricardo Lamas gets passed Josh Emmett next week, we can get Ortega vs Lamas to decide who gets champ Max Holloway next.

Now we move on to one of the stranger fights I’ve seen in a while. Jason Knight was newly ranked in the top 15 and wanted to keep climbing with a win over Gabriel Benitez. It all went sideways pretty damn fast in the first round. MMA is a pretty violent sport, but it is actually illegal to BITE ANOTHER FIGHTER. I don’t know if Jason Knight just had a shitty month or what, but Benitez defended a takedown with his finger near Knight’s mouth and *chomp* goes his finger. Knight gets a point deducted, and I don’t know if he ever quite recovered mentally. Benitez kept taunting him in the center of the octagon, and Knight kept whiffing his punches. Then in the second round, Knight pokes Benitez in the eye. After that, he was never really in the fight. Benitez picked him apart and never let up. I’d like to see Benitez in the rankings after this one.

One of the most underrated fights of the night has to go to Marlon Moraes vs Aljamain Sterling. Top bantamweights going against each other right after a shakeup at the top of the heap should’ve been the co-main event, even if Moraes was a short-notice replacement. But maybe it’s because Marlon Moraes had been such a touted fighter before he joined the UFC, but never quite that highlight finish he wanted. Unfortunately for Sterling, he got that highlight when Sterling went in for a takedown and Moraes’ knee crunched against his head. Moraes was trying for a kick, too, which made the thud of this knee even more surprising. This next highlight you should probably turn the sound on for.

Moraes needs to face a top 5 opponent as soon as possible, please.

If you happened to tune in late, then you missed a pretty crazy fight between Albert Morales and fresh upstart Benito Lopez. I mean, what was Lopez gonna do? Win his UFC debut in a war where he started off with a flying knee? ….Oh, that’s what he did? Well then here ya go, kid: your highlights.

This next one between Luke Sanders and Andre Soukhamthath was kind of a head scratcher for me. Sanders was definitely in charge of this fight until Soukhamthath landed a nice right hook to knock Sanders off his feet. I only wish the ref would’ve given Sanders another second or two, because the fight had just gotten really interesting. But it did not, and Andre Soukhamthath got the comeback win.

And since we had a nice TKO highlight in the last one, let’s go with a crisp submission win. Alex Perez had a bit of pressure on him fighting only a few minutes from his backyard, but it sure as hell didn’t show when he got Carls John De Tomas to tap in round two.

I know this next one was on UFC Fight Pass only, but I wanted to put the spotlight on Trevin Giles for a bit. I was just impressed by his boxing at the end of this fight. He didn’t go crazy, he just kept his punches quick and crisp to make Antonio Braga Neto fall to his knees. I’m looking forward to see what this undefeated youngster can do.

Fight Night Fresno was a bit of a mixed bag for me. There were some fights I couldn’t pull my eyes from, and then there were some I couldn’t keep my eyes ON. All in all it was a good night, though, and I know I’m not the only one salivating at the possibilities of the matchups for the winners.

Next up on the UFC schedule is a barn burner of a main event with Robbie Lawler and Rafael Dos Anjos. Oh and we finally get Santiago Ponzinibbio vs Mike Perry in a contest of who can cause the most brain damage. See you then!

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