UFC Fight Night 35: What We Learned from John Moraga vs. Dustin Ortiz

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2014

Dec 29, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; John Moraga (left) and Chris Cariaso (right) during UFC 155 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Former flyweight championship contender John Moraga returned for the first time since his failed title bid in Atlanta. In his way was a scrappy, full-of-heart flyweight in Dustin Ortiz who was certain to give him a run for his money.

It was a close back-and-forth affair, with Moraga controlling the standup and Ortiz surprisingly controlling the wrestling portion of it. When the judges were called upon for this close decision, Moraga ended up taking the scorecards.

So, what did we learn from this fight? Let's take a look.


What We'll Remember About This Fight

The back-and-forth nature of the fight. Many people, including myself, speculated that John Moraga would control the wrestling and standup during this fight. We were wrong.

Moraga was definitely the better fighter on the feet, but Ortiz surprisingly outgrappled the Arizona St. wrestling alum. It made the fight close, exciting and a contender for Fight of the Night. 


What We Learned About Ortiz

He definitely belongs in the UFC. Ortiz, a heavy underdog, gave Moraga, a former title challenger, everything he could handle. The fight could have gone either way, but this night did not belong to Ortiz.

He's definitely a keeper in this growing 125-pound division. 


What We Learned About Moraga

He's not as good of a wrestler as we thought he was. Boasting an impressive collegiate wrestling background, Moraga was promptly outwrestled and grappled by Ortiz.

Moraga is well-rounded and skilled, so he was able to pass through this fight with a win. However, a guy like Ian McCall, Joseph Benavidez or Ali Bagautinov would exploit his takedown defense worse than Ortiz.

This win is definitely a learning experience for the Arizonan.


What's Next for Ortiz?

This loss did not hurt his stock too much. In fact, in losing, Ortiz actually may have upped his stock.

Perhaps a bout with recent loser Ryan Benoit would be a good rebound test for both men. It would send one man back to the win column and another to the drawing board. 


What's Next for Moraga?

This was his first fight since losing his title big to Johnson, so he's still a few fights from contention. However, he has options.

The best option for Moraga is to fight the winner of Ian McCall-Brad Pickett. Otherwise, a fight with the winner of Bagautinov-John Lineker could also work.