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UFC fighter Cub Swanson at the UFC Media Lunch on Oct. 19, 2017 at the Elbow Room in Fresno. (Courtesy of Jason Duong)

UFC fight night comes to Fresno

The UFC is coming to Fresno on Dec. 9 at the Save Mart Center with a featherweight bout between Southern California fighters Cub Swanson and Brian Ortega, along with the debut of Central Valley native Alex Perez.

“It’s that Cali on Cali war,” said Ortega, ranked No. 6. “It’s great because we can bring that to the state. This is the first time a UFC event is going to take place in Fresno. I feel honored to be a part of this.”

The main card features Ortega, 26, who is a jiujitsu black belt and undefeated. His opponent, No. 4-ranked Swanson, 33, defeated Doo Ho Choi at UFC 206. The fight won “Fight of the Year” at the World MMA Awards.

Although Swanson has over 10 years of experience as a professional fighter, the matchup feels different for him.

“He’s an undefeated fighter, so that confidence is huge,” Swanson said. “I think we’re both California guys who like to throw down, and that’s exciting. I’ve been asking for a fight closer to home, and I’m sure he’s got a lot of people coming, so the crowd will be crazy.”

Ortega has an unblemished record in the UFC, but he said it isn’t the most important thing in his eyes.

“The funny part is, I actually never cared about my record. I don’t care about losing,” Ortega said. “I go in there, and I want to leave there knowing I put it all on the table. Then I walk away happy. They say, which is true, there is no losing in this game. Only winning and learning, and that’s what I’m here for. I’m here to fight the best. It’s all about testing yourself.”

Although Swanson and Ortega have combined for 43 more UFC fights than Perez, 25, the Lemoore fighter is just excited for his opportunity. Perez fights Carls John De Tomas (6-1) before the main card.

“It couldn’t have happened at a better time,” Perez said. “I feel like I should’ve been in the UFC a long time ago, but it didn’t work out that way. I got signed, and the first show is in Fresno, so I’m pumped and excited.”

Although Perez is making his debut, he’s had over 20 MMA fights. He has a combined record of 18-4, with seven first-round finishes along with three wins by KO.

His opponent on Dec. 9 might have the experience, but Perez has the benefit of fighting near his hometown.

He’s fought in Sacramento, Southern California and other places around the state, but this fight will be special.

“I’ve got a lot of my friends, coaches and teammates coming,” Perez said. “They’re all coming down to support me, so it’s exciting. I mean, my family alone bought over a hundred tickets, so I just can’t wait for the opportunity here.”