If skeptics remained, Brandon Moreno quieted them.
The 23-year-old prospect stepped over another obstacle in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s flyweight division, as he choked Dustin Ortiz unconscious in the second round of their UFC Fight Night “Swanson vs. Lobov” clash on Saturday at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Listed as a slight -120 favorite on BetDSI.com, Ortiz succumbed to a rear-naked choke 4:06 into Round 2. He had never before been finished.
Ortiz tried to big brother “The Ultimate Fighter 24” graduate throughout the first round, where he executed repeated takedowns and instigated a series of clinches. His approach failed to net the desired results. Moreno (+100) set the stage for the choke with a clean head kick, swarmed with punches, advanced to the back and consolidated his position with a body triangle. The dazed Ortiz struggled to free himself, to no avail. Moreno has rattled off 11 consecutive victories, eight of them by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
“I tried to be more aggressive [in the second round], and that kick comes really easy to me,” Moreno said. “I’ve practiced it for a long time, and I found the right time to use it. The flyweight division is short [on contenders], so I feel that I am close to a title shot after beating three of the top guys. I think it’s going to take me one, maybe two victories to get the title shot.”
Team Alpha Male flyweight Hector Sandoval also excelled as an underdog, as the former Tachi Palace Fights champion put away Matt Schnell with punches in the first round of their undercard scrap at 125 pounds. Sandoval (+122) brought it to a close 4:24 into Round 1.
Schnell (-142) found himself pinned beneath the Californian after a failed attempt at a guillotine. Sandoval postured in half guard and sent a volley of hammerfists crashing into his counterpart’s face, briefly knocking him unconscious and prompting referee Josh Ward to act.
Cub Swanson (-600), the heaviest favorite on the card, had no such trouble. The Jackson-Wink MMA mainstay and longtime featherweight contender took a five-round unanimous decision from Artem Lobov (+425) in the main event. All three cageside judges scored it for Swanson: 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45. The 33-year-old finds himself in the midst of a four-fight winning streak and has already made clear his interest in facing the winner of the forthcoming UFC 212 unification bout between featherweight champion Jose Aldo and interim titleholder Max Holloway.
“I feel like the winner of that fight is the only one that makes sense unless they offer me a lot of money to take a different fight,” Swanson told Fox Sports 1. “I’ll just be hanging out at home with my family to be.”