by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
Mike Swick says it’s not the fight that’s the problem – it’s the fight camp.

Swick, no longer a newbie in the welterweight division, has gathered seven of his UFC victories where it hurt just to walk to the cage.

“A lot of times I’ve done these eight-week fight camps, and I train so hard and so much every day that I break myself down and I overtrain,” Swick told MMAWeekly Radio recently. “Getting close to the fight I’m always picking up even more, and then I’m all beat up.”

American Kickboxing Academy has a reputation similar to the old Chute Boxe in Brazil, where the sparring gets to the razor’s edge of a real fight. Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson broke his ankle during a session almost two months ago.

Swick has since learned the value of a worn-out cliché: train smarter, not harder.

Well under 180 pounds, he says he doesn’t have a lick of fat on his body, feels stronger, and will eat alongside heavyweight teammate (and co-main event draw) Cain Velasquez as fight day approaches.

“I’ve taken the time I needed to relax on certain days and not push myself so hard, and my three or four days a week that are hard, I push really hard,” he said. “I’m completely recovered and in great shape.

“If this has to be full throttle for three rounds, there’s no doubt in my mind that I can do it.”

Swick’s opponent at UFC 99, Ben Saunders, is on a three-fight win streak and brutalized Brandon Wolff with knees in his last appearance. None of Saunders’ opponents were Top 10. But Swick is all-too aware this is a sport that can favor the underdog, in the blink of an eye.

“One of us is going to go down,” he said. “Our styles are perfect for each other for that exciting, knockout finish. I don’t think he’s going to have the wrestling to take me down or to hang onto me. He’s gonna come out and strike and I’m going to do the same thing. I’m gonna be throwing for the cheap seats. Whoever connects, it’s going to be bad for the other person.”

It’s also why he wants his next fight to be a name, where the upside is greater.

“If I win, I don’t gain as much, even if they’re as tough as some of the top-ranked guys,” said Swick. “A win in this fight would put me at 9-1 in the UFC, and I feel like I should get a big fight after that.

“If I lose I’m just gonna cry, feel sorry for myself. I’ll be really pissed after all this training. If he beats me, my hat’s off to him. He deserves wherever he’s at after that.”

Swick also wants to up the pace of his fight schedule. Injuries have sidelined him on several occasions, and he needs to make the lost time up.

“I’m not looking past Ben Saunders, but I definitely want to fight as soon as I can after,” he said. “I think the cards are pretty filled up. If I hit a pay-per-view, it’s looking like it’s going to be August, September maybe. Looks like they’re filling up pretty fast. We’ll see how this fight goes, and hopefully I can jump on another card, because I would love to have two more fights this year if possible.”

His opponent list still doesn’t include teammates Josh Koscheck or Jon Fitch – unless there’s a title involved – but it does include current champ Georges St. Pierre, if anyone’s asking.

“I’m really hoping to go out there and put on a great performance so that in my next fight, I can get a fight where I can really jump ahead,” said Swick.