Cub Swanson outduels Artem Lobov in main event slugfest, calls for title shot next

Cub Swanson extended his winning streak to four with a unanimous decision victory over Artem Lobov, but it wasn’t the blowout many expected in the main event.

The UFC made the fight after Lobov asked to face Swanson despite just a 2-2 record inside the Octagon without even sniffing the top 15 rankings in the featherweight division.

Swanson accepted the matchup but quickly skyrocketed as a massive favorite in the fight with some oddsmakers putting him as high as a 7-to-1 favorite over Lobov in the headline fight from Nashville.

None of those numbers matter once the fight starts and Lobov served notice early in the first round that he was there to battle for a victory as he cracked Swanson with a series of blistering leg kicks.

A red welt began to form on Swanson’s thigh as he started firing back with series of right hands that found a home on Lobov’s chin. With seconds ticking away in the first, Lobov swooped in for a surprise takedown that could have earned him the round while probably also silencing many doubters who questioned him getting the fight much less that he’d survive five minutes with the No. 4 ranked featherweight.

While the opening round went Lobov’s way, the momentum shifted dramatically in round two as Swanson found his range and started to go to work with a diverse array of strikes that absolutely battered the former “Ultimate Fighter” contestant.

Swanson clipped Lobov with a big head kick that rattled the Russian-born fighter before he took the fight to the mat with a beautiful foot sweep. Swanson quickly transitioned to take the back before looking to sink in a rear-naked choke, but Lobov’s defense was enough that he was able to slip free.

Swanson’s assault didn’t slow down in the third round as he landed one of his best shots all night with a right hand that cracked Lobov flush while also opening a huge cut on his eyelid. The fight was actually paused for a moment so the doctor could check the cut, but Lobov was cleared to return to action.

As much as Lobov was able to absorb punishing shot after punishing shot, Swanson just continued to pour on the offense with a variety of kicks and punches over the final 10 minutes of the fight.

Swanson’s arsenal really shined as he unloaded in both volume and power over five rounds while ultimately out landing Lobov 209 to 123 in significant strikes during the 25-minute battle. Perhaps an even more staggering number was Swanson’s accuracy — he landed a whopping 70.6-percent of his significant strikes.

When it was all over, the two fighters embraced and put an end to a war of words that raged on for weeks leading into the main event. Lobov raised Swanson’s hand in the air as he conceded the victory to his opponent, but each of them gained a mutual respect for the other during the grueling war.

The final tallies on the scorecards were 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46 with Swanson earning the unanimous decision victory.

Afterwards, Swanson paid homage to Lobov for stepping up to the challenge and giving him a battle to remember.

“It’s a fight. This is like my 21st fight in the UFC/WEC so I’m running out of opponents. I’ve got guys like that are willing to call me out and want to test themselves so I’m in a position now where I’m a veteran and I’ve got to fight these guys.

“I knew he was going to step up to the plate and it was a hell of a fight.”

With a 4-0 record most recently and a 9-2 mark over his past 11 fights, Swanson is clearly entering title contention and he recognized that while asking for a shot at the winner of the upcoming UFC 212 main event in Brazil on June 3.

“I’d like to fight the winner of [Jose] Aldo and [Max] Holloway,” Swanson said. “It’s about time. I think I’ve won 9 out of 11 so let’s do it.”

Swanson has history with both fighters after suffering a loss to Aldo in the WEC several years ago while also falling to Holloway in 2015.

Now with a new win streak attained, Swanson is knocking on the door of a shot at the gold and he let the two top-ranked featherweights know he’s coming for them very soon.