Featherweight Cub Swanson isn’t happy about being passed on for a title shot. Though he vocally campaigned for the injured Frankie Edgar’s vacant spot opposite champion Max Holloway at UFC 219, Jose Aldo was gifted with an immediate rematch.
Now, Swanson has to meet the undefeated-yet-unheralded Brian Ortega on the main card of this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 123 in Fresno. It’s a matchup where the perennial contender could earn the next title challenge – or knock him out of the mix for the foreseeable future.
Also on the card is Jason Knight, AKA “Hick Diaz”. The exciting featherweight will look to bounce back from the worst loss of his career against a game Gabriel Benitez. Solid lightweights Scott Holzman and Darrel Horcher square off in a solid lightweight clash, while Eryk Anders and Markus Perez pits two undefeated middleweights in a “somebody’s 0 has to go”matchup.
While not a particularly loaded card, Swanson and Knight are two of the more exciting featherweights on the roster. And there are plenty of solid bets you can make on the night. Let’s take a look at your betting options, courtesy of the UFC odds at BookMaker.eu.
Cub Swanson -115 vs. Brian Ortega -115
Over/under 2.5 rounds, over -220 , under +180
The first rule of fighting Ortega: never go to the mat with him. Dude’s a grappling monster. Unfortunately for “T-City”, he’s not all that well-versed in takedowns, and Swanson has solid takedown defense. If this turns into a kickboxing match, Swanson’s unorthodox-yet-effective striking gives him the edge over a guy who is still learning the finer nuances of standup.
Swanson’s not a bigger favorite here because he does have a tendency to get into close scraps no matter who he’s facing – whether it’s a young stud like Doo Ho Choi or an overmatched Artem Lobov. Ortega is a guy who is tough enough to hang around until he can pounce on a limb, and showed some improvements in his standup against Moicano.
The safest play here is the rounds over, as the total is only 2.5 rounds. Given the price tag, you might just want to roll with Swanson to win – though there is some risk he gets overpowered by Ortega at some point.
Our Pick: Over 2.5 rounds -220
Jason Knight -310 vs. Gabriel Benitez +237
Over/under 2.5 rounds, over -135, under +115
Sensing that it had a rising cult star in Jason Knight, the UFC was likely hoping he emerged victorious in his last matchup against No. 3 Ricardo Lamas. It was clear that Sean Shelby threw him into the fire too early, as Lamas blasted through Hick Diaz in a single round. Benitez is a “get-right” fight for Knight, though the AKA-trained product is hardly a scrub.
Because Benitez offers zero takedown threat, Knight can get down to what he does best: walking guys down and thumping them with relentless boxing. His pace, cardio and aggression will be too much for Benitez, who is exactly the type of mid-level opponents Knight was feasting on before he ran into Lamas. Knight to win is a safe play, and if you’re lucky take him inside the distance.
Our Pick: Knight inside the distance +145
Darrell Horcher -110 vs. Scott Holzman -120
Over/under 2.5 rounds, over -245, under +205
A former hockey goon, Holzman actually kinda fights like one. A clinch and dirty boxing specialist, once he gets inside it starts getting really rough on his opponents. As a product of the MMA Lab, it’s no surprise he is a solid wrestler. While he can be taken down by good wrestlers, it’s tough to hold him down.
Horcher isn’t really the type that will test him in that area anyway. He is a hard puncher that’s willing to stand a trade. In a straight boxing match, that would give him a solid chance at victory. However, Holzman is likely to get inside and bust him up against the fence.
Our Pick: Holzman to win at -120
Eryk Anders -285 vs. Markus Perez +225
Over/under 2.5 rounds, over +120, under -140
Coincidentally, Markus Perez claimed the LFA belt that was vacated by Eryk Anderson when the latter got called up to the UFC. Now, the unbeaten duo will meet inside the octagon for the lineal LFA championship.
This could be a showcase fight for Anders, a former collegiate football player who won a national title with Alabama in 2009. Elite athletes like Anders don’t come around often, and his explosiveness has translated to six KOs on his 9-0 record – four coming in the first round. While Perez is solid technically, he will be overwhelmed by his foe’s physicality. Anders to win is the safe pick, while inside the distance isn’t a bad choice either.
UFC Odds Pick: Anders inside the distance -285
Check out the latest UFC Fight Night 123 betting odds.