Cub Swanson: Focused on Title Following Beautiful Destruction of Dennis Siver
The 29-year-old Palm Springs native battled toe-to-toe with the German-born striker throughout the first two rounds before his power punches melted Siver in the final frame. The victory was "Killer Cub's" fifth consecutive and now has him banging on the door of a title opportunity.
The only catch in the equation is that the Jackson's MMA-trained fighter is now standing in a crowded line that includes fellow contenders Ricardo Lamas and Chad Mendes, who are also seeking an opportunity to compete for championship gold.
While Swanson has lost to both men in past years, the current version of the SoCal representative whom the MMA world has seen over the past 18 months is not the same fighter who fell to Lamas and Mendes on previous occasions.
Swanson has been a wrecking machine since his loss to "The Bully" at UFC on Fox 1 in November 2011 and is on a mission to become the featherweight champion.
"Any of those top fights would make me excited," Swanson told Bleacher Report. "That's what I want. I want the big fights, not only to get the title shot but to secure my future and whatever I pursue after fighting. It is very important I live up to my own expectations as far as popularity and knowing that I left my mark on the sport. Whatever big fights I can get, I'm up for the challenge.
"I think it's very safe to say I'm a different fighter," he added about his evolution since previous bouts with Mendes and Lamas. "I would say I'm the same fighter I was when I fought Lamas but that was the first test as the 'new me.' I made a small mistake and I got caught. I was dominating him in that fight. I would say I'm the same fighter, but I learned from that, and I'm never going to make that mistake again."
The latest version of Swanson showed tremendous growth in the patience department as he methodically picked apart Siver at UFC 162. The Californian had Siver hurt on several occasions but resisted the urge to flurry. Instead, he chose to dole out damage shot by shot, which resulted in Swanson crumpling the 34-year-old striker midway through the final round.
While Swanson acknowledged the impact of his improved patience and was satisfied with the victory, he also saw areas where he can improve his skill set.
"There are still parts of my game I need to fix," Swanson said. "I think I have a lot of room for improvement. I am really just sharpening up everything. But every fight is different and sometimes it just takes a little bit to find your rhythm and your range and neutralize what they are trying to do to you. All in all, I'm happy, but there is still work to be done.
"I knew I won the second round and I was confident I was going to go out and finish the third round in good fashion because I was in such good shape. I didn't know I was going to get the knockout, but I knew I was going to throw everything I had to get it.
"Patience is definitely a big part of it," Swanson offered about his approach. "Especially in this fight because Siver was slowing down and the holes in his game were getting bigger. I knew being patient and waiting until later in the round were going to be key for me."
With a wake of destruction in his path, confidence on full tilt and a steadily increasing profile with the MMA fanbase, there is no telling where the ceiling rests for Swanson. He's had his foot mashed on the gas pedal for the past year-and-a-half, and there are no signs of him slowing down anytime soon.
Whether his next fight is a championship opportunity or a title eliminator is fine by him. Swanson simply wants to keep the process of progress alive and promises he'll always give fans what they paid to see.
"I either want a title shot or a guaranteed No. 1 contender fight," Swanson added in regard to his next outing. "I feel like I deserve it. I feel like the fans are backing up on this and it will come.
"From here on out, as long as I'm doing this sport, I'm going to come in incredible shape, try to take people's heads off, put on a show for the crowd and never be in a boring fight."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.
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