Swanson’s conditioning, speed and accuracy proved to be his strongest attributes through five rounds, earning the unanimous decision with scores of 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47 to win his sixth fight in a row.
“It feels amazing, man,” Swanson said in his post-fight interview. “I just wanted to come here and paint a picture for you guys.
“What do you guys say? Six in a row, have I redeemed myself or what?”
Swanson showed his speed advantage early, outpacing his opponent and landing a number of leg kicks. Stephens displayed his power, countering flurries with single punches that found their marks, the biggest strike being one that put Swanson on his back towards the end of the opening round.
Stephens continued to land his power-right hand in the second round, knocking Swanson three times in the first half of the frame. Later, Stephens landed a body kick, following that up with a clinch against the cage just before the end of the frame.
In the third round, Swanson landed a body kick that hurt his opponent. He pursued a backpedaling Stephens with a series of strikes to the head. Stephens survived the onslaught, later engaging in a clinching battle with Swanson against the fence.
The two fighters traded leg kicks and punches as the fourth round went on. Stephens landed another strong right hand, and Swanson followed that up with a kick to the body. Stephens attempted a takedown, but Swanson stuffed it, shaking his head to signal that the takedown wouldn’t happen.
Swanson later landed another body kick that sent Stephens reeling, adding a cartwheel kick and punch combinations against the fence in the final round. Stephens, bleeding from the nose, made it through the flurry and threw counter shots. The two traded strikes through the end of the round to the delight of the San Antonio crowd.
After the fight, Stephens acknowledged that he may have broken his hand in the early stages of the bout.
“I think I threw a left hook or something,” Stephens said. “My left hand went numb. I just continued to use it.”
With the win on Saturday, Swanson improved his record to 21-5. The victorious fighter took another step closer to competing for the UFC featherweight title, possibly against the winner of the fight between champion Jose Aldo and No. 1 contender Chad Mendes.
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