Swanson: “I really want a big fight”
Featherweight champion Jose Aldo is defending his title against
Top-ranked contender Chad Mendes is poised to share the cage
with American Top Team upstart Nik Lentz.
Former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar has already fought for
the belt in the 145-pound ranks, and is now set to welcome former
two-division champion B.J. Penn to the featherweight division
following a season coaching opposite one another on The Ultimate
Everyone in the upper echelon of the deep and talented 145-pound
weight class has a fight date circled on the calendar –
everyone except Cub Swanson.
Despite boasting the longest winning streak among the
division’s elite contenders, the 20-5 Tru MMA and Team
Jackson-Winkeljohn representative hasn’t been able to find a
dance partner since earning a third-round stoppage win over Dennis
Siver back at UFC 162 in July.
The win over Siver pushed Swanson’s winning streak to
five, extending an impressive run that began with a second-round
finish of George Roop in January 2012 that has included victories
over Ross Pearson, Charles Olivera, and Dustin Poirier as well.
Unfortunately for the Palm Springs, California resident, it is the
marks on the losses side of the ledger that are keeping him from
obtaining the big fight he’s been looking for since early
While a two-year run without a loss would be enough to carry
most fighters into title contention – if not a title shot
– Swanson finds himself trapped in purgatory.
Prior to beginning his impressive run, the 29-year-old with the
20-5 record suffered losses to Ricardo Lamas, Chad Mendes, and Jose
Aldo, three of the four fighters currently ahead of him in the
featherweight hierarchy. The fourth is Edgar, who transitioned to
the 145-pound ranks after a two-year reign atop the lightweight
division, dropping a unanimous decision in a championship pairing
with Aldo in his debut before rebounding with a victory over
Oliveira the night Swanson slept Siver.
Even though he’s proven himself to be a bona fide
contender, Swanson can’t seem to shake the chains of his
previous losses, and after nearly four months on the sidelines
waiting to hear about his next fight, “Killer Cub” is
starting to get a little bit antsy.
“To me that’s not fair,” he said of being
shackled by his losses despite his run of success when speaking
with FoxSports.com on Wednesday. “But it is what it is, and I
take it as I have to keep going out there and proving people wrong,
changing people’s minds, and I feel like I have done
“It can be frustrating, but I try to stay positive.
I’ve always been the guy that took whatever fight the UFC
gave me. When nobody else wanted to fight Aldo back in the day and
all these fights that I took, they were all learning experiences. I
didn’t have an amateur career, so I kind of felt like
I’ve been learning as I go all these years. It’s been
cool, it’s a journey, and I’ve enjoyed it.”
Prior to his string of victories, Swanson carried the
underachiever label – someone many observers believed was
skilled enough to wear championship gold, but who had never been
able to gain enough momentum to make a serious run at the top of
Injuries played a major part in stunting his climb as well, as
for a while it seemed as if Swanson couldn’t stay healthy. He
broke both his hands in a WEC bout with John Franchi, and was twice
forced out of UFC bouts opposite Erik Koch, the second time after
an errant knee in training left him with a shattered face,
“Through everything, I’ve been in the gym,
I’ve kept my head up, and I’ve kept pushing
forward,” Swanson said of his trials, both past and present.
“I’ve seen so many people call it quits in this sport,
and I’m still pushing, still improving, still have the
hunger, and I’m fighting better than ever. I want to be the
best in the world and I feel like I deserve to fight the best in
the world because I think I’m right there.
“I’ve been asking them and telling them I want to
fight, and they know it needs to be a fight that makes sense, but
there is just nothing available. It sucks. I’m not injured
and I haven’t been injured at all – I’ve been in
the gym training, been out to Albuquerque to do some training
there. I’m just waiting – waiting for my opportunity
and waiting for what’s next, and I really want a big fight
and feel like I’ve earned a big fight.”
With the current crop of top contenders already aligned with
upcoming bouts, one name that has come up in recent weeks is
Japanese veteran and recent UFC signee Tatsuya Kawajiri.
The 35-year-old has forged an impressive resume during his
career, boasting wins over the likes of Yves Edwards, Joachim
Hansen, and current UFC lightweight title challenger Josh Thomson,
while coming out on the wrong side of the results against Takanori
Gomi, Shinya Aoki, and a pair of battles with Gilbert Melendez.
Two years and four victories into his featherweight career,
“The Crusher” inked a deal to compete inside the
Octagon, and suggested a pairing with Swanson would be a good
While flattered by Kawajiri’s interest, it’s not
exactly the fight Swanson is hoping for, though if the UFC calls,
the good solider will happily march into battle with the
“I’m honored to start being called out by these guys
– obviously I’m in a position that they want to be in.
It’s definitely an exciting match-up, but like I said,
I’m trying to get the biggest fights, and he’s not even
in the Top 10, and I feel like fighting somebody outside the Top 10
doesn’t really make sense.
“If the UFC asked me and say, `Hey, we want you to take
this fight,’ then I would do it, but because somebody calls
me out, I’m not jumping at the opportunity. You’re
“I’ll take whatever fight the UFC asks of me, so
that’s what I’m waiting for,” Swanson continued.
“I don’t pick and choose. Even with the Siver fight, I
wasn’t too thrilled about that because I felt like I had done
way more than him. I took the fight with Poirier, I won that, and
Dennis Siver didn’t do anything, and he still got the fight
“I knew that all that fight was going to do for me was
show that I’m relevant, that’s about it – it
wasn’t going to push me up any more, but I needed to stay
relevant, and that’s why I was criticizing Lamas for just
hanging out all the time. I fought five times in the span that he
fought twice, and against way tougher guys. It was frustrating to
me, but I went out there, fought Siver, and I finished him, which
only the top guys have been able to do.
For now, Swanson is forced to be a spectator, keeping a watchful
eye on his fellow contenders, ready to step up if needed, and
hoping his phone will ring with news of a big-time fight sometime
“I’m training, I’m hungry, and I’m just
waiting for a date.”