While Conor McGregor’s antagonistic ways ruled the UFC featherweight division for much of the last couple years, one fighter who never felt the need to get caught up in talk was veteran Cub Swanson.
On a recent edition of the UFC Unfiltered podcast, Swanson pointed out how the only time he let himself get caught up in the hype of a bout was one he lost to Jose Aldo at WEC 41 in 2009. In the years since, it hasn’t been an issue for Swanson.
“It’s not that (Also) pissed me off, it’s just the matter of everyone saying how good he was and that he was so dominant,” said Swanson. “So I just wanted to get in his face right away, and right off the bat when the fight started, he was like backing up, so I was just like trying to just be the guy who did the pressure, and then I walked right into his knee. And I learned from that mistake.
“Pretty much from then on every time somebody tries to beef with me or make it bigger than it is, it’s just like I take that in and I just use that as fuel to the fire. It doesn’t make me react instantly. It’s just when that moment happens I can give them payback, I’m going to give it to them twice as much.”
Since losses to Frankie Edgar at UFC Fight Night 57 and Max Holloway at UFC on Fox 11, Swanson has won three straight bouts, to which he attributes no longer paying attention to title contention build up that he had prior to his defeats.
“(I’m) just trying to train smarter,” said Swanson. “In those two losses, I was really hyped up in that title shot thing and it was just an emotional roller coaster. It really got me away from what was important to me; it’s just about having great performances. It’s made me way stronger of a fighter.”
Swanson (24-7) will look to pick up his fourth win in a row when he takes on Artem Lobov (14-12) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 108 in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday.
“I know why (Lobov) called me out,” Swanson said. “He’s wanting big fights and wants somebody who will stand and bang with him. He knows that’s more my style. I know he’s a tough guy. He’s got great coaches, great training partners. I’m expecting the best version I’ve seen of him. It’s a five-round fight, so he doesn’t get taken out very often, so I expect to beat him up for five rounds.
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“I’d love to knock him out early. Shut him up. Obviously he’s training his butt off, so if he’s in there and can take it, I’ll be ready for a five-round war.”
Having been close to title contention before, Swanson is looking to once again be in that position, but he knows it’s going to take more than just winning and being a top-ranked fighter to get what he wants.
“The rankings are there a little bit, but it’s also about performances,” said Swanson. “I need to go out there, I need to perform. I expect myself to perform better every time. I feel I’ve done that when I’ve come back from losses.
“My performances have been better and better every time, so that’s all I’m looking for is having the best performance that I’ve had in this last string of fights – the best version of myself ever, actually – and that will be enough to get a title shot.”