Two of the most dangerous featherweight strikers in the world will clash this Saturday night (July 6, 2013) as Cub Swanson takes on Dennis Siver in the opening bout of the UFC 162 pay-per-view main card in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Both men are on a roll at 145 pounds and are looking to make their mark, potentially working for the next title shot in the division.
Record: 19-5 overall, 4-1 in the UFC
How he got here: After losing his MMA debut, Cub Swanson won 11 straight bouts, including avenging that first loss to eventual UFC lightweight Shannon Gugerty. After making it to the WEC, he would win his first two fights in the promotion before getting submitted by the debuting Jens Pulver after getting caught with a guillotine choke during a takedown attempt.
Pulver would earn a title shot after beating Swanson, as would eventual champion Jose Aldo, who famously knocked Swanson out with a flying double knee attack in just eight seconds. Swanson's other loss in the promotion was to current number one contender Chad Mendes.
Swanson had a very fan-friendly brawling fight style, winning "Fight of the Night" in his last three WEC victories, including one of 2010's most entertaining scraps against Mackens Semerzier.
He finally made his UFC debut against Ricardo Lamas, but would be upset after taking the Chicago fighter lightly in the second round and was forced to tap to an arm triangle choke. He bounced back with authority last January, however, knocking out George Roop in impressive fashion.
He stepped up his competition level in a big way, knocking out Ross Pearson violently last summer at UFC on FX 4 and he continued to dominate with his fists, knocking Charles Oliveira silly in his following bout. His penultimate performance was a thrilling decision victory over fellow top contender Dustin Poirier in his most recent performance.
Now, he's knocking on the door for a title shot and Siver is standing in the way.
How he gets it done: Swanson is good at everything very well-rounded, but his striking has been putting him over the top lately. He's won a lot of his fights lately by pushing a heavy pace, forcing his opponents to make a defensive lapse and then making them pay dearly for it with his heavy hands.
Swanson's striking style has become more refined in recent bouts and he's been able to outland multiple opponents on the feet before putting them away with a big right hand. The Jackson MMA fighter can take a licking and keep pushing forward. He should really look to pressure.
On the canvas, both men are competent, but if Swanson doesn't have confidence to stand and bang with the German, he doesn't deserve to win this one.
Siver was rocked by Swanson's teammate Donald Cerrone so it's not too far out of the realm of possibility that Swanson can pull off a similar attack. Chin strength and pure punching power are Swanson's key to victory.
Record: 21-8 overall, 10-5 in the UFC
How he got here: Dennis Siver is a German kickboxing dynamo. He started out on the European circuit with moderate success and finally earned his big break in the UFC at a special England show in 2007. He would be released from the promotion after going 1-3 which included two losses to the current contenders Melvin Guillard and Gray Maynard.
Siver earned his way back to the UFC in 2009 and would make several "Knockout of the Year" lists, finishing two fights with nasty spinning back kicks.
After stumbling against Ross Pearson in a fight where he was constantly pressured in the stand-up, he reeled off four big wins in the promotion including the most impressive performance of his career against George Sotiropoulos at UFC 127. In that fight, Siver hurt the Australian multiple times and kept the fight standing despite Sotiropoulos' best efforts.
Siver followed up the huge victory over Sotiropoulos by eeking out a decision against the always-game Matt Wiman last summer to throw his hat in the mix with the top contenders. Unfortunately, all of his momentum was halted by Cerrone at UFC 137 when he was dropped twice in the first round and then choked out while still woozy.
Siver was hoping a cut to featherweight would give him one last opportunity to make a run, and the decision has paid off thus far as he's scored two straight dominant victories over Diego Nunes and Nam Phan. If he can get past Swanson, there won't be many opponents left in the way of a title shot.
How he gets it done: Siver is a kickboxer first, grappler second, although his submissions and defensive wrestling have improved drastically since his UFC debut over five years ago.
Siver will likely look to keep this fight standing where he can work his powerful and compact punches. He's got the nastiest spinning back kick in the promotion, having twice finished fights with a perfectly timed blow to the liver so he'll be looking to get some space. His technique is very fluid and he can launch it with little to no telegraphing. All he needs is the proper distance.
Expect to see Siver try to work in his wide array of kicks against Swanson. This means footwork is key for the German. He'll need to use his snapping push kick to keep the Brazilian at a distance and that very well could give him the opening he needs to connect with his flashy kicks. Unlike many fighters, when Siver throws his flashy kicks, they are with serious bad intentions, not just to look pretty.
If he can control distance properly in the stand-up and avoid getting tagged, he's got a great chance of winning.
Who will come out on top at UFC 162? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!