It's hard to forget the memorable mixed martial arts (MMA) fights that include Cub Swanson, whether it's an amazing victory or a disheartening loss. Either way, the proud southern Californian always brings the fight to his opponents, and very few have left without a tough night.
Way back when, in the time of the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), Swanson was on a very impressive 11-fight win streak, with his sole career loss coming in his very first professional fight. He carved out a reputation as a finisher in his early days, with nine of the 11 wins in the aforementioned streak coming via stoppage.
His career was at a peak when he was very young, and with the promise he showed, he was seemingly going to be around for a very long time.
Then, WEC 31 happened in Dec. 2007.
Jens Pulver, who was coming off two straight losses in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to Joe Lauzon and B.J. Penn, respectively, decided to make a drop to 145 pounds, a weight class with which most fight fans at the time were unfamiliar. It didn't take long for Swanson's momentum to fade away, as Pulver made quick work of him after applying a guillotine choke for a tap in just 31 seconds.
The loss, while disheartening, was obviously not the end for Swanson. He put together two straight wins in 2008 before meeting Jose Aldo, an exciting young Brazilian prospect. In many ways, Aldo was a reflection of Swanson's early years -- a dynamic finisher with a ton of potential. At this point, Swanson was no longer just a prospect, he was a respected veteran.
And that's what made the brutal loss to Aldo all the more shocking.
In only five seconds, Aldo flew through the air, landing two flying knees on the same jump, putting Swanson to the mat hard. He followed up with one or two small shots before the referee graciously stopped the fight. As Swanson got up, he revealed a gruesome gash on his forehead, creating an image that is iconic in MMA to this day.
Needless to say, the loss didn't do wonders for Swanson's career. After the loss, he fought only four times from 2009 to 2011, compiling an even record (2-2) over that span, bringing him into what could very presumably be a harsh 2012 for the Jackson MMA-trained product.
However, since then, Swanson has turned it all around. Whether it was a new approach in training or some new confidence in his fights, Swanson reeled off three straight stoppage victories over respected opponents with which he was thought to be fairly even. His highlight reel has been improved drastically with his picture-perfect knockouts over George Roop, Ross Pearson and Charles Oliveira, all very respected names in the sport.
Heading into this fight at UFC on Fuel TV 7, which takes place later this afternoon (Feb. 16, 2013) from Wembley Arena in London, England, Swanson has the chance to revitalize his career in a way few other fighters have ever done. He bounced back from a rough stretch, and now, he may even be injected into the title picture with a win at this event.
The only thing standing in Swanson's way right now is Dustin Poirier. And while he is a stiff challenge, he is far from unbeatable. Swanson may not be your cookie-cutter Greg Jackson-trained technician, but he has a way of putting some very skilled fighters in their places, which is exactly what he needs to do to Poirier later today to keep his momentum rolling..
If their recent fights are anything to go by, Swanson and Poirier are almost definitely going to put on a big show in the co-main event. And if Swanson manages to come out on top, it will add an amazing narrative to his career. All it takes with Swanson is one punch, and that one punch may be his ticket to a championship rematch with Aldo in the near future.
With a win at this event, Swanson would re-establish himself as an upper echelon featherweight after what seemed to be a plateau in his career. It's definitely within his grasp, meaning big things could be in his immediate future, which is the reason he is UFC on FUEL TV 7's "Fighter to Watch."