Mike Swick chomps at the bit to get back in the welterweight mix


Top UFC welterweight contender Mike "Quick" Swick recently attended UFC 103: "Franklin vs. Belfort," a card he was originally supposed to compete on opposite Martin Kampmann in a number one contender qualifier match; however, a concussion suffered during training forced Swick off the card. The injury prompted a late replacement in British welterweight prospect, Paul "Semtex" Daley, to make his UFC debut.

It was a smashing success.

Swick recently sounded off on the Kampmann vs. Daley fight, the "AKA vs. Matt Hughes" situation, fighting teammates, and Georges St. Pierre relying heavily on his wrestling abilities as the featured guest on MMAmania.com’s exclusive presentation of Pro MMA Radio.

In his conversation with host Larry Pepe, Swick started things off by recapping how he got injured in the first place (off a Josh Koscheck takedown during training), which was pretty much the same story he recounted in MMAmania’s exclusive interview last week.

While he admitted it was awkward to watch the fight, rather than being a part of it, he seemed impressed with the performance of Daley, who he calls a "great fighter." Dissecting the fight, Swick admitted he found Kampmann’s strategy odd, especially considering that Daley isn’t known for his ground skills.

"I saw (Kampmann) try to take (Daley) down a couple times, but I think he definitely should have put more emphasis on the takedown. And he was trying to do like a new single leg thing that I had never seen him do before. I don’t know if he was preparing that for me or what. But I would have stayed in that upper body clench and worked that upper body takedown that he does so well, if I was him."

Swick felt Kampmann telegraphed his shots and thought that he either "had a lot going on in his head" or was possibly rocked from an early exchange with "Semtex." Either way, it didn’t take long for the Brit to earn the technical knockout victory at 2:31 of the first round.

Now hopeful for a November or December return to action — one that might see him square off against Daley — Swick gave "Semtex" props for avoiding the takedown and out-muscling the Dutch Thai boxer to pull off the surprise win.

As for an opponent when he returns, Swick has made no secret of his desire to fight former welterweight champion Matt Hughes — in fact all of the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) welterweights (Swick, Koscheck and Jon Fitch) have called out Hughes repeatedly for months now. But if Hughes isn’t interested in a fight with an AKA guy, which he seems not to be, Swick just wants a "big fight" to help him put his name back into title contention.

"I’m not going to turn down a fight. So if the UFC calls me and wants me to fight Daley -- and that’s it, period, whether it’s a title shot or not afterwards -- I’ll take it. I’m not going to turn down a fight, for sure. And stylistically, I like the matchup with Daley. But, if I had a preference, like I said, I would love to fight some(one) that’s going to get me that title shot, or have a title shot. That’s the goal of everyone. I don’t think any fighter would tell you different."

Despite being undefeated (4-0) at welterweight and 9-1 in the UFC, Swick understands that the injury that forced him to pull out of UFC 103 might end up coming back to haunt him.

"On the flip side of that, though, I did throw a wrench into everybody’s plans. I threw a wrench into the UFC’s promotion of this event by having to back out … I totally understand that I’m at fault for that, and that could come at a price. If I have to fight an up-and-comer or someone who doesn’t have as big of a name, I totally understand that it’s my fault that I’m in this position. So I have no problem, I’m not going to argue, I’ll fight whoever."

As Swick awaits an opponent, he also recognizes that his fellow AKA teammates are eager to get back into the cage as well. While Fitch is scheduled to welcome Ricardo Almeida to the 170-pound division at UFC 106 in November, Koscheck got back into the win column at UFC 103 with a quick TKO of veteran Frank Trigg. Staying true to form, "Kos" called out Hughes in the post-fight interview. As Swick tells it:

"Me and Fitch actually yelled at Kos after his fight to call out Hughes. We’re always trying to fight Hughes. Me and Fitch and Kos have always tried to fight Hughes and it’s never happened. I found out from the UFC that (a Hughes fight) isn’t going to probably happen right before that fight. So then it was on to Kos and see if maybe he’d fight Kos or someone. One of us wants to fight him. It doesn’t seem like this fight’s getting done with any of us. So we’re just going to continuously call him out until he fights one of us."

Obviously, this begs the question, why is it that the AKA guys are so interested in fighting Hughes. Is there bad blood between camps? Why such an emphasis on the former champ?

"He’s the best fighter out there that we haven’t fought yet … he’s a great fighter. He’s one of the most decorated fighters in UFC history. Why wouldn’t you want to fight a guy like that? … Again, the motivation behind it isn’t that we don’t like him. It’s just the fact that he’s the biggest name UFC fighter that doesn’t have an opponent."

Plus, as Swick explained, everyone else is already scheduled to fight, including former number one contender, Thiago Alves. He makes a strong case that it’s inevitable that Hughes will have to fight one of the AKA fighters. Maybe the question should be, why is Hughes not interested in it?

"(Hughes) runs more risk fighting an up-and-comer, because he doesn’t want to lose to an up-and-comer. So I don’t really know (why he’s not interested) … Koscheck’s available, I’m available, and every other welterweight who I can think of is booked on a fight, so I’m curious, if they do have an opponent for him, I’m curious to see who it is, because if I was in his position, I wouldn’t want to fight just any random welterweight. I’d want to fight a top welterweight who’s doing good."

And when you’re looking for a top welterweight who’s doing good, you really need look no further than AKA. Despite the multiple call-outs, Swick says the UFC brass has "insinuated" that the fight is not going to happen. Not for him, and "probably not Kos and Hughes either."

So if Swick, Koscheck and Hughes are all available, and Hughes is out of the question, is there a chance we could see some teammate-on-teammate crime, ala Swick vs. Koscheck? Alas, the million dollar question that’s been asked time and time again:

"If you can put yourself in our shoes, we train together. We help create each other and make each other as successful as we have been. We’re great training partners. I couldn’t possibly prepare for a welterweight fight in the UFC with better training partners than two top 10 welterweights … Until I fight Georges St. Pierre, I’m not going to have any opponents that are better than my training partners, which is a very rare thing."

Despite team loyalty, Swick is willing to admit that it might one day become an issue. When it does -- for example, if one of them were to be the champion, and one the top contender -- Swick says they’ll "deal with it."

"The circumstances could never come up. And if it doesn’t, why would we want to say, 'Ah, I’ll fight if this happens, or I’ll fight this or I’ll do this.' It’s just an issue that we don’t really want to think about until it comes up. ‘Cause it’s one of those things that could never come up. You know, I could possibly fight middleweight, Fitch could possibly fight middleweight, there’s a lot of ways around it, not to mention there’s a ton of welterweight opponents."

In fact, when the three AKA welterweights originally came together, none of them were considered serious contenders. They were all still young. Fitch had just come off fighting in MMA tournaments in Mexico, Swick was coming off a knockout loss to Chris Leben in the WEC, and Koscheck was brand new to the sport. The fact that the three helped one another rise to the very top of the sport, peaking nearly at the same time, only helps solidify their bond.

As Swick puts it, "I think that’s a huge accomplishment, and we have each other to thank for that."

Their commitment to helping one another improve may one day place them inside the Octagon opposite welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, who has relied heavily on his wrestling abilities in recent fights to take his opponents down, keep them there and punish them for it.

"I agree with Kos, I think (GSP) is fighting like a wrestler. I think he’s found his niche. He’s got one thing that’s really good, and it’s above most the guys in the division, and that’s that he’s got a good shot, he has good timing, and he’s getting people to the ground, and just riding them out for the decision. And he’s very good at that. That’s something we’re looking at, all of us, in preparation for a possible fight with him."

Should Swick get his chance, he feels he has the advantage on the feet and will try to keep it standing.

Swick went on to talk about his feud with Leben and how he suspects "The Crippler" of dodging a rematch opportunity that would have gone down as the main event of an Ultimate Fight Night card broadcast on Spike TV; however, Leben turned down the fight, only to claim later that he didn’t know it was main event.

"He said he didn’t know, and he said his management turned the fight down for him, and if that’s the case, I would fire my manager. If my manager turned down a main event fight against a guy I’d already beat in the UFC and didn’t tell me, I think I’d be pretty upset about it. So he either knew, or his manager’s not that great."

To hear the full interview -- including discussion of this month’s Fight Magazine cover story that sheds light on how the suicide of Swick’s father when Swick was only 10 years old helped establish his motivation and determination to eventually become a fighter -- head on over to the Pro MMA Radio archive with host Larry Pepe.

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