Cub Swanson talks "tough kid" Poirior, Dana White and the mental side of MMA
Swanson looks to claw his way back up the UFC featherweight ladder
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Image
The evolution of Cub Swanson is something you would expect to see on the big screen of a Hollywood blockbuster. The blue collar, hardworking fighter has overcome physical and mental hurdles to finally get the recognition he deserves as talk of a title shot grows louder.
The injury bug had plagued the career of UFC featherweight Cub Swanson, getting to the cage only once in 2011, the 29 year old almost walked away from the sport completely.
“It all goes back to all the injuries I’ve sustained. At one point I thought it could be the end of my career but it gave me a lot of downtime to sit and think and realise I can approach how I go about fighting better," Swanson told MMA Kanvas.
“I feel like I’m making strides as an athlete and it was a lot of the mental side of things. I had to work on believing in myself and I just prepare for fights smarter now.”
Last year everything changed for the Albuquerque New Mexico resident. Notching three straight victories, all by knockout, Cub made it clear to his contemporaries at 145 pounds (66 kg) that he wasn’t playing around.
Swanson looks to replicate his 2012 success in a fresh calendar year and it all begins this Sunday morning against Dustin Poirier.
“He’s a well-rounded, tough kid. He’s definitely been doing well in this division. I wouldn’t say he’s phenomenal anywhere but the guy is good everywhere. People are always ranking me low but a win here puts me just below those top five or six guys.”
He continued "We are both aggressive fighters who like to work at a high pace. We both fight with a lot of heart and always show up in shape. It could be a quick fight or a long, drawn-out three-rounder.”
The longest tenured featherweight on the UFC roster has had a hard road to being an elite level fighter. From a troubled youth, Swanson attributes martial arts for saving him from going down the wrong path in life.
Additionally, he is always quick to praise his coach Greg Jackson for finding his untapped potential and pushing him to live up to the lofty expectations others placed upon him when he was just a rising star possessing an abundance of athleticism and ability.
Jackson, a two-time “coach of the year” winner at the World MMA Awards is often scrutinised from keyboard warriors, fighters and UFC figurehead Dana White for his coaching style. Swanson however feels that any scrutiny directed toward his coach is completely unwarranted.
“I’m the kind of person that you can say anything about me but don’t speak about my friends or my family... it really gets to me,” he said in his exclusive interview.
“I guess it didn’t help that Dana [White] has bad mouthed him because people listen to him and start talking trash and it drives me nuts.”
He continued “We’re out here in New Mexico and nobody comes out here, they don’t understand the family environment that Greg provides here. There’s nothing bad to say about Greg, he’s a great dude and one of the reasons for all our success.”
History doesn’t remember the really good, they remember the cream of the crop. If you’re a fighter in the UFC, your ultimate endgame has to be hoisting a UFC championship above your head, validating all the hard yards in the gym and in the cage with your name etched in the history books.
A major hurdle that Swanson forced himself to overcome was a 2009 loss to divisional ruler Jose Aldo. The Brazilian prodigy didn’t allow Swanson to land a single punch, putting him down with a fierce double knee to the noggin that will forever reside on the champions highlight reel.
Swanson is keen to avenge the loss and get his shot at UFC gold.
“I feel like I am a different fighter now and that was a once in a lifetime shot. I’ve put in the hard work in the gym, I’ve got a lot of experience and I’m getting better so if I keep winning then why don’t I deserve it?” the title contender stated.
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