Cub Swanson says he doesn’t beg and with six straight victories over some of the best that the featherweight division has to offer, he shouldn’t need to.
The re-emergence of Cub Swanson as a title contender in the featherweight division has been one of MMA’s feel good stories. Back in 2009, Swanson was KO’d in 8 seconds when he met the future WEC & UFC Featherweight Champion, José Aldo via a double flying knee in what was a WEC title eliminator. Many felt in losing in such a quick and devastating fashion that Swanson would struggle to ever reach similar heights in his career.
Swanson has been like a man possessed in the Octagon since transitioning over from the WEC back in 2011 and has rattled off the joint-longest active win streak in the UFC’s featherweight division. A winning run that surely secures Swanson a shot at redemption and the winner of UFC 176’s featherweight title tilt, featuring Aldo and Chad Mendes.
Last night’s decision win over Jeremy Stephens wasn’t the most exhilarating of performances that Swanson has put on in recent showings, but he still demonstrated an ability to turn a fight in his favour and gut out a victory.
The fight started out fairly evenly, with neither man really stamping his authority on the contest in the first two rounds in what were largely back-and-forth affairs with only slight nods given to Swanson in the first and Stephens in the second.
It would be the third round that Swanson began to make this fight his. Around the mid-way point of the round, Swanson caught Stephens hard with a kick to the body that had Stephens backing up, if not crumpled. Anyone witnessing this could see Stephens was hurt and Swanson swarmed. Landing punches with regularity, Swanson was even able to get off a cartwheel kick that glanced Stephens’ chin rather than connecting with any real force.
While Stephens did enough to recover and see out the round, the tide had turned and for the rest of the bout it was largely all Swanson, as the Californian took home a unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards (49-46, 49-46, 48-47).
There are of course other names in the hat for a future challenger to the UFC’s featherweight champion, with the winner of Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn yet to be decided and Conor McGregor beating the drum as vociferously as ever, but I can’t see past Swanson.
Swanson has gone from perceived dud to convincing stud in a short period of time and no other featherweight holds a win streak as impressive as Swanson’s. Swanson should be the first name at the top of Sean Shelby’s list when the dust settles after UFC 176, with the Jackson’s MMA product receiving the deserving news he has waited a long time for, news that should be regardless of the status or bravado that may surround other divisional contenders.