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Cub Swanson on Brian Ortega’s choke: ‘I felt like I was going to die’

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What’s it like to be on the wrong end of one of Brian Ortega’s patented fight-ending submissions?

Cub Swanson, who’s been around the block in this game, tapped out to Ortega’s guillotine in Saturday night’s UFC Fresno main event. And he can testify that the Los Angeles native’s finishing ability is pretty scary.

“I felt like I was going to die,” Swanson said at the post fight news conference.

Swanson, who took a four-fight win streak into the bout, said he felt “100 percent” he was winning the fight up until the moment the bout got away from him. Indeed, Swanson was strong in the standup, darting in and out and peppering his opponent with kicks and with solid punches to the body.

“It was awesome as far as feeling my flow out there and being a little more calm and picking my shots,” Swanson said. “I felt like I was picking him apart.”

But Ortega gave a precursor to the fight’s finish with his first choke, late in the first round. It was one Swanson said wasn’t as close to a finish as it might have appeared at first glance.

“It was getting tight and then loosening up, getting tight and then loosening up,” Swanson said. “He was making adjustments, I was fighting it. I was doing all the things I needed to do to create space. Luckily the bell rang, but I felt like I was going to get out.”

The undefeated Ortega has won five straight fights since a no contest, all via finish. He has seven submissions among his 14 career wins, and a knack for taking damage before getting out of trouble, something of which Swanson was well aware.

“We know once I started touching him up he was going to get desperate and start to go for stuff, and he’s big and long and it was tricky,” Swanson said.

A bit too tricky, it turned out, as Ortega effortlessly maneuvered into the winning sequence.

“It was tight right away,” Ortega said. “He had like a lock, you know? And then I was fighting him and kind of shaking him, and he only had like one hand. I grabbed his arm and his wrist and I felt OK. And then he grabbed his hand and I felt like I could still pull out, and then he readjusted. I felt his legs get a little higher on my body. And then it crushed my head, and then its like, I just flared up. I panicked.”

The bout was the last of Swanson’s UFC contract. He didn’t want to talk about his future plans, but he did know one thing: This fight was one that got away.

“That was one of my best performances,” Swanson said, “until getting caught.”


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