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Cub Swanson willing to test free agency after Brian Ortega fight: ‘I want to get paid more’

MMA: UFC 206-Swanson vs Choi Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Cub Swanson will make his 14th walk to the Octagon later this year when he takes on undefeated featherweight contender Brian Ortega at UFC Fight Night 123 on Dec. 9 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. It will mark the fourth time that Swanson is headlining a UFC event.

Swanson, 33, is undoubtedly one of the best 145-pound fighters on the planet. During his six years with the promotion, “Killer Cub” has amassed an impressive 10-3 divisional record, losing to only Frankie Edgar, Ricardo Lamas, and current champion Max Holloway. In addition to his double-digit victories, Swanson has earned four Fight of the Night awards and two Performance of the Night bonuses.

Still, despite his elite production within one of the toughest divisions in mixed martial arts (MMA), Swanson doesn’t believe his UFC paychecks are as rewarding as they could be. That’s why the proven veteran isn’t going to renew his current UFC contract after his upcoming tilt with Ortega.

“It’s a power move. Of course, I want to get paid more,” Swanson said during a recent episode of ESPN’s Five Rounds podcast. “The thing people don’t understand is that I’ve got to a point where I’m making good money and it’s enough to live on, but it’s not retirement money. Not even close.”

"I've been doing this for 13 years and I'm in the prime of my career, but at some point it's going to dip off, and I'd like to walk away before I start having really bad performances -- with enough money in my account to make smart investments and do the right things. I just want that opportunity."

Considering Swanson has been competing under the UFC/WEC banner since 2007 he believes he should have scored a UFC title shot by now. Instead, promotional matchmakers have consistently overlooked Swanson’s championship worth in favor of more established stars.

“I just want that opportunity. [Max Holloway fighting Frankie Edgar] is the 20th title fight since I’ve been in this division,” Swanson said. “I’ve been in the top tier of guys my entire career. It’s a little frustrating seeing somebody like Frankie, who is great, get tons of title fights. I just don’t understand it. I wanted some leverage for that [in my contract]. I’m next. They’re always saying, ‘We can’t guarantee anything,’ and it’s like, c’mon, yes, you can.”

A victory over “T-City” at UFC Fight Night 123 this December would push Swanson’s current win streak to five (his second longest under UFC control) and put him on a very short list of deserving title contenders. With the possibility of earning a more lucrative contract with UFC, or possibly another promotion, Swanson is looking to end 2017 with an absolute bang.

"My last couple fights, I feel they're showing that they see me more as a gatekeeper, having all these young up-and-comers fight me. I've got no problem knocking them off. To say I'm getting paid the same to fight Aldo or Frankie, as Brian Ortega? I'm like, 'OK, I'll take this youngster, who hasn't been in the five-round wars yet,’” Swanson said.

"Unfortunately for Ortega, I'm pretty pissed off for this situation and I'm going to take it out on him."

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