It always warms my heart to see a mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran take out a rising young talent. Probably because I'm getting old myself, and hardly any of you young whippersnappers appreciate the classy things in life such as refined tastes like properly-chilled Riesling, pate, or Molly Hatchet.
But, time has a way of catching up to all of us, and the life cycle of the fight game guarantees that everyone is replaced over the long haul.
That being said, there are no guarantees. And Cub Swanson's outstanding blitz of Charles Oliveira at UFC 152 last night (Sept. 22, 2012) was the kind of reminder that old dogs often learn new tricks and just need a big enough stage to apply them on. Oliveira, whose victories over The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winners Efrain Escudero at 155, and then Jonathan Brookins at 145, marked him as a rising talent.
Oliveira's drop to Featherweight came in the wake of disastrous losses to Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone, and undefeated (2-0) at the new weight class, including a nice submission of Brookins, Swanson looked like the perfect grizzled-veteran measuring stick.
But, Swanson had other plans.
If there's a guy that has steadily and quietly improved in the past couple years, it's Cub. If you haven't seen his outstanding two-way stand up war with Mackens Semerzier, do so. It's a marvel of all-around Muay Thai awesomeness. Swanson's defensive Brazilian jiu-jitsu and sound technical bottom game are outstanding, too.
And he was definitely laying in wait for Oliveira, whose standup holes and suspect chin were clearly exposed against Cerrone.
Banging him with a nice left hook to the body -- much as fellow veteran Jamie Varner did against Edson Barboza in another "veteran upset special" that livened up the month of May -- Swanson followed moments later with a right-hand doozy to the ear/temple region, which had a delayed-action effect before crumpling Olivera.
Swanson's win was the biggest of a long career, and his standup progress compared to his early days in the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) has been dramatic. It was an inspiring win, to say the least. Maybe not in the real of Varner's unbelievably shocking upset over Barboza, who, unlike Oliveira was unbeaten and on the cusp of being anointed as the next big thing.
But, it was a reminder that veteran fighters who've been there and done that still carry a huge edge over up and comers. Sometimes old dogs do learn new tricks, and it's always fun to see them unleashed.
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst.