Cub Swanson: Between a rock and a hard place

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When Cub Swanson ran over Charles Oliveira at UFC 152, you couldn’t help but to be happy for the Palm Springs native.

After nearly a decade in the sport, Swanson finally emerged into a main-card slot and made the most of it with a right-hook which finished his favoured opponent. Having his hand raised with a smile on his face from ear-to-ear was definitive proof hard work pays off. The injury-ridden Swanson had made it as a mixed martial artist and was now among the elite in the UFC’s featherweight division.

Three straight wins in the UFC generally means the sky is the limit, and championship fights are on the horizon. However, I can’t help but feel a sense of defeat for Swanson. Despite the three straight wins, all by knockout, there’s a feeling of despair already abound about him. Results do not lie and Swanson’s history against the UFC’s featherweight elite is not pretty.

It was WEC 41 in June 2009 when Cub Swanson met then rising star Jose Aldo in what served as a number one contender’s bout of sorts. Two extraordinary strikers with well-rounded skills were to battle with dreams of taking on then WEC Champion Mike Brown. It took a mere 8 seconds for Aldo to land a thunderous flying knee to the face of Swanson and create one of his most famous highlight reel moments to date.

With two more losses since the Aldo bout, to top featherweights Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas, one has to wonder just how close can Swanson be considered to a world title shot?

The question boils down to how much merit is given to results which take place outside of the UFC. Granted, most UFC fans have never watched WEC, do those results still play into decisions moving forward?

Of course, if Swanson can continue to deliver in such exemplary fashion, there’s simply no way he can be denied a world title opportunity. But if there’s any question of where Swanson stands, it’s certainly behind others with a similar record.

To get to a world title shot, Swanson will have to avenge either the Lamas or Mendes loss. Not only will a win over a former foe give him confidence moving forward and prove him to be a top fighter, it will show evolution and advancement, something he’ll need in spades to survive against Aldo.

How do you give someone a rematch of a bout they lost in 8 seconds? That’s easy, when they have shown growth, maturity, and to be a better fighter. Cub Swanson has done that, and if he can continue on the path he’s headed, the almost unfathomable rematch will be right around the corner.

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