It may have taken 11 months, but Cub Swanson was the final notable WEC holdout to make his UFC debut last night (November 12, 2011) on the UFC on Fox preliminary card.
Fans of his aggressive and scrappy style were given quite a treat in the first round, where it appeared that the Greg Jackson-trained fighter was going to at least run away with a decision against Ricardo Lamas, if not worse.
And then it all went awry.
Despite being the better credentialed striker and jiu-jitsu player, he found himself forced to cry "uncle" or face the consequences of being put to sleep in front of 15,000 rabid Anaheim fans.
So how did Lamas come back? And where do both fighters go from here?
Swanson found his range early, much earlier than Lamas and he utilized it well, keeping the Chicago based grappler on his heels.
If Lamas had any major advantage, it was in the wrestling department and he timed a strike beautifully to secure a takedown at the midway point of the first frame, but that played right into Swanson's submission game.
Swanson baited Lamas by turning to his right and then snuck his arm underneath Lamas' chin, squeezing with everything he had with an arm-in guillotine attempt.
Lamas first tried to slam out of it to no avail and then stood back to his feet as a last-ditch effort before losing consciousness.
When Lamas walked forward briskly towards the fence, Swanson either slipped off or felt himself losing his grip on the choke and released the former D III All-American wrestler from his clutches.
When they got back into striking distance, Swanson again had Lamas in trouble, this time after tagging him with some beautifully precise strikes but he couldn't put the tough wrestler away. Instead, he was content to stuff one more takedown and then ride out the round dominating with top position until the last 10 seconds.
This came back to bite Swanson in round two. He got a little overaggressive early, losing his balance during a wild kick attempt and eating a head kick to the face. When he tried to retaliate with a big strike of his own, Lamas easily changed levels and put him on his back. Lamas at first seemed content to ride out from top position, but when the Greg Jackson-trained fighter attempted rubber guard from the bottom, it forced Lamas' hand and he postured up, raining down some big punches.
While Swanson was trying to work his way back to his feet with his arm wrapped around the back of Lamas' neck, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt under Daniel Valverda struck hard and fast.
With an arm isolated, Lamas latched onto an arm triangle choke with his left bicep and then slickly slipped dropped down to increase the pressure of the choke.
WIth both men stuck close to the fence, Swanson had very little room to escape and after a desperation bucking maneuver failed, he was forced to tap out.
For Cub Swanson, he may not have earned a victory on Saturday night, but he did just about everything right in the first round. He learned an important lesson in not getting careless with your striking (which led to the takedown) or while attempting to get back to your feet (which led to the submission). Even though he lost, he definitely gained some fans with his exciting fighting style.
Possible opponents for Swanson could be fellow UFC on FOX loser Pablo Garza, Ultimate Fighter season 12 winner Jonathan Brookins or perhaps a cast member who is ready to step up to the challenge after The Ultimate Fighter season 14 finale.
For Ricardo Lamas, he put on a show with some crazy kicks and some solid wrestling, but his striking defense and overall stand-up ability still needs some work. He's got the exciting maneuvers down, but he needs to put more time in on his basic fundamentals. Terrific strikers who can keep the fight standing are going to eat him for lunch unless he can improve. It was nice to see that he didn't give up despite a rough first round. Lamas took home a cool $65,000 "Submission of the Night" bonus to top off the evening and it was well-deserved.
Some intriguing opponents for Lamas would be former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown, Javier Vazquez or perhaps Michihiro Omigawa as all three are on one fight win streaks and would be credible challenges. It will be interesting to see if he can keep it up as he rises up the rankings.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Do you think Lamas won this fight, or did Swanson blow a golden opportunity? What did you think of the fantastic finish?
For complete UFC on FOX 1: "Velasquez vs. dos Santos" results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire pay-per-view (PPV) event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.
All gifs by Zombie Prophet via IronForgesIron.com.