Cub Swanson vs. Dustin Poirier: Keys to Victory for Featherweight Contenders

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2013

Jun 22, 2012; Atlantic City, NJ, USA;  Cub Swanson in a featherweight bout against Ross Pearson during UFC on FX at Revel Resort and Casino. Cub Swanson won the fight by technical knockout in the second round.  Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Either Cub Swanson or Dustin Poirier are going to be one step closer to becoming true contenders for the UFC featherweight title after UFC on Fuel 7.

The two 145ers will co-headline the London event, and the winner will have a strong case to enter the title picture.

Swanson has seen his struggles throughout his career. He has five losses, including an eight-second knockout at the hands of Jose Aldo, but he's looked better than ever lately. He's currently riding a three-fight win streak with all three wins coming by way of knockout.

Poirier was once considered a top contender in the division before getting upset by Chan Sung-Jung in May 2012. Since then, "The Diamond" has rebounded with an impressive submission victory over Jonathan Brookins. A win over Swanson and he will be right back on track to being a big star in the featherweight division.

With both fighters on the precipice of contention, this should be a highly contested fight. Here's what each fighter must do to have his hand raised at the end of the night.


Cub Swanson

Swanson's path to victory is fairly obvious—he wants to use his explosive striking on the feet to knock Poirier out as soon as possible.

He's one of the most explosive strikers in the division and has highly polished kickboxing that really hasn't been seen in his first 15 professional fights.

Taking the fight to the ground with Poirier is a risky proposition, but Swanson has been in the cage with much more dangerous strikers. He'll look to control the distance, figure out the openings in Poirier's stand-up game and land big shots.

If he can avoid the clinch, keep the fight standing and turn the fight into a kickboxing match, he'll be in good shape to win the fight.


Dustin Poirier

Poirier has solid striking in his own right, but he'll want to avoid the feet against a tough veteran like Swanson.

Where Poirier really excels, and wants this fight to take place, is on the mat.

Poirier has one of the most dangerous submission games in the division and has earned six of his 13 wins by way of submission. Swanson isn't completely inept in the grappling department, but it's worth noting that three of his five losses have come by way of submission.

Poirier is a big featherweight with a highly effective top game. His best bet to neutralize the kickboxing of Swanson is to utilize the clinch as much as possible and work for takedowns. Once successful, he can start to work away at locking in a sub.

If he can get this fight to the ground, he should have enough grappling to either earn the decision or catch Swanson with a choke.