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UFC on FOX 19: Cub Swanson, 'Fighter to Watch' tonight in Tampa

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a sport that demands consistent success from its participants. No matter the track record or impressive resume, fighters are looked at for what they've done lately.

It's a harsh reality, but one that often dictates pay, ratings, and divisional opportunities.

In the case of former WEC standout and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight mainstay Cub Swanson, he hasn't been all too good of late. As a matter of fact, after losing to Frankie Edgar via neck crank with four seconds left in the fifth round at UFC Fight Night 57 and tapping out again to a Max Holloway guillotine choke at UFC on FOX 15, the 32-year-old hasn't fought in nearly a year.

Luckily, he'll have a chance to redeem a two-fight losing streak (the first in his 12-year professional MMA career) when he takes on well-rounded Brazilian veteran Hacran Dias tonight (Sat., April 16, 2016) at UFC on FOX 19 in Tampa, Florida. He's one of the more intriguing fighters to watch on the entire card and for good reason.

As one of Greg Jackson's star pupils over in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Swanson has an abundant source of MMA knowledge and world-class coaching. With the help of Jackson, the Featherweight may very well prove to be a divisional phoenix in 2016 and reclaim the same title hopes he pursued while winning six-straight fights from 2012-2014, including finishes of Dennis Siver, Charles Oliveira, Ross Pearson, and George Roop. Not to mention victories over key draws like Jeremy Stephens and current Lightweight rising contender Dustin Poirier.

At the end of the day, Swanson remains one of the most athletic bodies in the entire weight class. With unorthodox striking, creativity beyond his years, and a knack for pressuring opponents when the opportunity calls for it, the California native is capable of once again knocking Featherweights silly on his way to reclaiming his divisional stake.

But at the core of Swanson's troubles lies a ground game that has led to five career defeats by way of submission. As the veteran prepares to make a comeback this weekend opposite Dias, who is a serious submission guru hailing from Brazil's famed Nova Uniao camp, he must showcase an evolved ability to fend off takedowns, transitions, chokes, cranks, and anything that may lead his peers to believe he hasn't made the necessary adjustments to reenter the 145-pound elite.

It's unknown if the promotion purposely pinned Swanson up against Dias in order to gauge his development after a year-long hiatus, but the Brazilian is the perfect candidate to test Swanson as he attempts to redefine a significant portion of his arsenal at 32 years of age.

Tonight will be a great measuring tool to see if Swanson has returned to form. And while the Featherweight faction is currently in a state of standby considering champion Conor McGregor can't get enough of Nate Diaz, it will undoubtedly welcome Swanson back with open arms (assuming his own limbs aren't snatched up by a crafty 31-year-old Brazilian). will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on FOX 19 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining preliminary card balance on FOX at 6:00 p.m. ET before the FOX main card start time at 8:00 p.m. ET.

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