Swanson: “I really want a big fight”

Cub Swanson is sick of being on the sidelines and wants a big fight ASAP.

Featherweight champion Jose Aldo is defending his title against

Ricardo Lamas.

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

Fighter.

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

July.

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.

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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

that.

“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

the division.

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,

pondering retirement.

“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.

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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

initial test.

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

organizational newcomer.

“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

behind me.

“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

with me.

“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

soon.

“I’m training, I’m hungry, and I’m just

waiting for a date.”