Cub Swanson says Jeremy Stephens fight could make him a 'household name'
JUN 19, 2014 8:54p ET
Every time Cub Swanson got a call from a 702 area code, he got excited. Someone hitting him up from Las Vegas must mean the UFC was ready to offer him a fight. Or so he thought.
In actuality, from August until earlier this year, all Swanson got was an apology on the other end of the phone.
"They kept telling me, 'I'm sorry -- maybe next month,'" Swanson told FOX Sports.
The featherweight division was very much in flux. In February, the UFC gave Ricardo Lamas a title fight against Jose Aldo. And then after that all anyone wanted to talk about was Aldo moving up to face lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. In the meantime, Frankie Edgar, another potential Swanson opponent, got tied up with B.J. Penn and The Ultimate Fighter.
The Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA product was a man without a country. Or at least a man without a fight.
“I got to the point where I didn’t care,. Just give me a damn name. Let me prepare for it. Let's get going.”
Swanson (20-5) likes to get in there and scrap. And yet it'll be almost a year from last July when he steps into the Octagon against Jeremy Stephens in the main event of UFC Fight Night on June 28 in San Antonio (FOX Sports 1, 10 p.m.). Swanson beat Dennis Siver on July 6, 2013.
"I got to the point where I didn’t care," Swanson said. "Just give me a damn name. Let me prepare for it. Let's get going."
Stephens (23-9) isn't just any old name, either. He represents an opportunity for Swanson, not only to earn a title shot (which is a near certainty if he wins), but also to highlight his fighting style. The California native has honed his stand up over the years and is now one of the more technically sound and aggressive strikers in the division with some power to boot.
Stephens, who has knockout power in both hands (and shins -- just ask Rony Jason), won't be going for a takedown. There's a pretty good chance for fireworks at the Alamo. Add that it's the headlining bout and Swanson knows this can be a career maker.
"It's a chance for me to get my name out there," Swanson said. "That's what I'm lacking. I'm not a household name yet. I feel like I'm getting there, but I need a little more."
Much of the criticism surrounding Swanson revolves around the fact that he has already lost to Aldo, quite convincingly, by a flying knee in the first round. But that was, after all, five years ago. The two weren’t even in the UFC yet, still battling on the blue canvas of WEC.
"People just bash me, it makes me laugh," Swanson said. "Yeah, I messed up. Oh well. But look what I've done. I didn’t change divisions. I didn’t run."
No, to his credit, he built himself back up and evolved as a fighter after moving over to Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque. Swanson was almost a journeyman there for a couple of years, alternating between wins and losses. But now he's on a five-fight winning streak with four finishes.
Swanson, 30, is in his prime and yes, he wanted to be fighting Aldo this summer. Maybe he can before the end of the year with a win over Stephens.
"I was a little disappointed," he said of not getting the title shot. "But I try to look at the bright side of things. The fact of the matter is, I see this fight helping me out a lot."