The past two years have been remarkable for Cub Swanson.
The longest-tenured featherweight under the Zuffa banner has run the proverbial table, as he's found victory in all six of his bouts since January 2012. In the process of building his impressive winning streak, the surging contender has brought himself within striking distance of earning a long-awaited shot at the featherweight strap. Furthermore, the caliber of Swanson's performances during this run shows he's living up to the potential he showed flashes of during his time in the little blue cage of the WEC.
Yet, all success aside, the chip on Killer Cub's shoulder hasn't gone anywhere.
After defeating Jeremy Stephens in June, the Southern California representative was deemed to be the next fighter to challenge for the featherweight crown by UFC President Dana White. Swanson had been waiting to hear those words for years, but title shots under the UFC banner are tricky business, and the 30-year-old Jackson/Winkeljohn-trained fighter is a veteran of the sport.
He knew nothing was guaranteed until the contract for a title opportunity was in his hands, and that particular notion seems almost clairvoyant in the way things would play out in the aftermath of Swanson picking up his sixth consecutive victory.
Following Conor McGregor's win over Dustin Poirier at UFC 178 last month, White changed his tune and suggested the SBG Ireland representative would most likely get the next shot at the featherweight title. News of the change in direction served to bristle Swanson, who had just inked a contract to face former lightweight champion and featherweight title challenger Frankie Edgar at Fight Night 57 on Nov. 22 in Austin, Texas.
Nevertheless, Swanson is as game as they come, and he is focused on taking down The Answer in their main event tilt.
"Everything about this fight is great for me right now," Swanson told Bleacher Report. "Frankie is a great fighter with a big name. We are both working to get to the title, and it should be a great fight. He obviously wants to get back there and get another shot at the belt, and I have a lot of buzz around me right now with this winning streak, and he wants to take that from me. On my end, I've had a lot of wins, but I'm not getting the credit I believe I deserve. A big win over a fighter with the name recognition Edgar has will definitely help that cause.
"This a fight that I've wanted, and I love this fight. It's a main event on a solid Fox Sports 1 card in a great venue, and I'm happy with that. My focus is on defeating Frankie Edgar, but I'm pissed off about the whole title situation. It's unfortunate because Frankie is a cool dude, and I'm going to take all that frustration out on him.
"For my past three fights, people have been asking me if I'm excited to get the title shot. My win over Dennis Siver could have gotten it. My fight against Jeremy Stephens was supposed to be an official title eliminator, and this fight with Edgar is another title eliminator. They've decided to pass me by, and hearing the winner gets a title shot almost means nothing to me.
"I'll be excited to get a title shot when I have a contract for that fight, but until then it's just words," he added. "I've had a chip on my shoulder for a long time and especially so now with all of this. I'm just going to keep winning fights, and I'll take out the frustration of being passed over on whoever they put in front of me."
With featherweight champion Jose Aldo and No. 1 contender Chad Mendes set to rematch at UFC 179, the title picture is set to get more chaotic in the coming weeks. That said, Swanson isn't giving any more thought to the situation as he ramps up his preparation to face the New Jersey native. The former 155-pound king has proved to be one of the most resilient fighters to ever compete inside the Octagon and has a knack of showing up big when the spotlight is at its brightest.
While Swanson acknowledges his opponent's accomplishments, he's confident this is his time. The veteran striker has been firing on all cylinders over the course of his current run and hasn't stopped to rest for a minute on his success. He knows Edgar always shows up to scrap, and Swanson believes he'll have the edge wherever the fight takes place.
"People have been doubting me throughout my entire career, and I love to prove them wrong," Swanson said. "I'm looking forward to proving I can beat him anywhere and everywhere. If I fight my fight and do what I'm supposed to do, then I truly believe I can beat him anywhere the fight goes. If he goes out there and it's his night, then the fight will go his way, and it's as simple as that. But I'm very confident in my ability and how well I've prepared for this fight.
"I want these big fights and feel like I deserve them," he added. "These next five or six years is when I believe I'm really going to secure my legacy as a fighter. And that makes me excited. I know I belong in the biggest fights and can go out there and dominate. I'm always trying to stay ahead of the curve and believe I've done so in this stretch of wins."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.