Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight contenders Cub Swanson and Hacran Dias scrapped last night (Sat., April 16, 2016) at UFC on FOX 19 inside Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
Swanson's last two performances have been fairly dreadful losses to a pair of the best in the world. In order to move past those defeats, "Killer Cub" needed a strong performance. On the other hand, While Dias has proven himself a top 15-ranked fighter in UFC, the Brazilian veteran has yet to earn a signature victory. Facing off with one of the division's more established combatants, Dias had that opportunity last night.
It was a little slow at times, and he ultimately was unable to achieve that goal.
Operating from kickboxing range, both men attempted to bounce in-and-out with combinations and looked to land low kicks. On the whole, most of the exchanges were very even, as neither man truly committed to their strikes. Without much going on in terms of damage -- and Dias' few attempts at takedowns were rejected -- the round was ultimately decided by activity. Again, it was close, but Dias seemed to hold a slight edge in that area.
In all likelihood, the Brazilian took the first round.
After his slow start in the first, Swanson opened the second with a slick combination and dropped his opponent with a hard left hook. He tried to flurry over his wounded foe, but Dias did a nice job of using his guard to defend himself and preventing Swanson from swarming to the finish.
With about three minutes remaining, Dias returned to his feet. For the rest of the round, Swanson generally had his way with his opponent, as his punches landed at a higher rate and his low kicks proved to be more damaging with Dias falling to the mat. To his credit, the Brazilian hung tough in the pocket and did land some decent right hands of his own.
It was anyone's fight heading into the third round.
Though both men needed the third round to win, the two started rather slow. They traded at a decent rate, but neither fighter really took control of the pace and set their own rhythm, causing plenty of pretty even exchanges.
With two minutes remaining, Swanson began to find his range with a series of hard right hands. Moments later, Swanson connected with a high kick that dropped his opponent. Once again, Dias was able to hang tough and survive, but Swanson controlled the rest of the fight from top position.
It was a clear victory for "Killer Cub."
Swanson, for the most part, looked like his old self for much of the fight. Though he was a little too content with ducking down low, Swanson's defense was largely on point, and it allowed him to find openings for his check left hook.
Additionally, Swanson denied each of his opponent's takedowns. Dias has been something of a grinder inside the Octagon, but Swanson never allowed that aspect of his game to come into play.
On the feet, this was another case of Swanson's creativity shining through. He put together some very interesting combinations, and the high kick off a missed punch was classic WinkelJohn striking. Overall, Swanson didn't really show anything new, but he did prove that he's still a top Featherweight.
Following this win, Swanson is back into the mix at 145 lbs. He's not yet ready to challenge the top five again, but a match up with someone like Darren Elkins would make sense.
Dias didn't look bad in this fight, but he never really got going either. Swanson's awkward movement seemed to get the better of him, as Dias mostly decided to box and spent a lot of time waiting for Swanson to initiate.
Ultimately, Swanson's experience on the feet made that a bad game plan. Regardless, Dias is still a top fighter. Next time out, a fight with Tatsuya Kawajiri is a possibility.
Last night, Cub Swanson out-struck his opponent en route to a decision win. Where does "Killer Cub" head from here?
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