It represents the final step in a journey towards redemption.
“No matter what anyone says, I feel like if I win this fight, I’m gonna fight for the title,” said Swanson in a recent interview on UFC Tonight. “I just feel like the fans will back me up and there’s no denying me after this.”
If Swanson defeats Edgar, there will be no denying him. He will get the coveted shot at UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.
Swanson has faced Aldo once before. Both men were rising up the 145-pound ranks in World Extreme Cagefighting, which was later absorbed by the UFC. At that time, they were fighting for a shot at the belt wrapped around Mike Brown’s waist.
Aldo launched a flying knee almost as soon as the fight started and it was all over. It took the Brazilian all of eight seconds to crush Swanson’s dream. He then went on to become the stuff of legend, currently ruling with an iron fist over the featherweight division, knocking off all comers.
But that loss was more than five years ago. Swanson has rebuilt himself, not so much with a new fighting style, but with a much different mentality.
“(It’s) just belief in myself,” that Swanson says has changed. “Having great coaches around me and going, man, I deserve to be here.”
Edgar, however, remains no small obstacle to Swanson’s hope to rematch Aldo. Edgar is the former UFC lightweight champion, and much like Swanson, has fought an exhaustive list of the best fighters in the world.
It’s bound to be a tremendous fight, but also a tremendous test for both men.
Edgar is known for his cardio, having gone the distance in fights with Aldo and Gary Maynard, as well as twice each with BJ Penn and Benson Henderson. Swanson doesn’t intend to let it go that far.
“Edgar is a huge opponent, and I’m ready or it. I’m gonna try to finish him. Going five rounds is never fun,” said Swanson, who believes he has the goods to do what no other fighter has ever done to Edgar.
“I feel like the guys he was fighting at 155 pounds were strong and they were hitting him hard, but I feel like I have that speed and power and I feel like that’s what knocks people out,” said Swanson.
“For me, I’m just as fast if not faster. I personally believe that I’m faster than him and my cardio is up there with him. So I don’t see that being an advantage for him.”
Many people, including Swanson, believe that he had already done enough to earn a shot at Aldo. But that would have necessitated sitting on the sidelines and waiting for the champion to be ready to defend his belt.
That’s not in Swanson’s DNA.
“(Winning the title) is something that’s up there at the very top of my list, but also fighting the very best of the best,” he continued. “I could have sat out, but I had the chance to fight Frankie Edgar, somebody that I respect, and that’s why I’m taking this fight because I’m a fighter and I want to fight fighters.”
In Edgar, Swanson is definitely fighting one of the very best. If he gets past Edgar, he then will get a shot at quite possible the very best.