Coming into his UFC Fight Night main event against Brian Ortega on December 9th, it's clear that Cub Swanson has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. He's been in the UFC for six years and 13 fights. But his 10-3 record with 6 performance bonuses (9 if you include his WEC days) haven't earned him a go at the featherweight belt.
You could blame that on bad timing losses to Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway just when he was on the verge of a title shot. But Cub is currently feeling like it has more to do with the UFC not being particularly hyped about being in the Cub Swanson business. His fight against Ortega is the last on his UFC contract, and if he doesn't feel like he's going to start getting the breaks other UFC favorites have, he may not stick around.
"Guys like me, they’re like, ‘Yeah, he’s winning, but let’s give him tougher and tougher and tougher and tougher guys.’" he said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports. "That’s literally how they book my fights. It’s a lot harder for somebody like me to have an undefeated career than somebody like a Conor or a Ronda."
As far as Swanson is concerned, the UFC "pampered" their two cash cows by throwing money at them and giving them easier opponents.
“One, they’re being compensated above and beyond,” he said. “Two, their opponents were picked at the right time and it was the right person. When [McGregor fought] Chad Mendes, that fight, [Mendes] wasn’t even training when Aldo pulled out. Five other people were training and they went with the guy who is the least in shape. Same thing happened with Nate Diaz. Five other people signed on the dotted line and Nate Diaz got the fight because he was the least in shape. There was too much money to be lost. It’s simple.”
You can tell money and opportunity is on Swanson's mind. Money especially.
“I’ve trained side-by-side with all these boxers and they make more money than me. My boxing coach [Joel Diaz] makes more money than I do making a small percentage of one of his boxers’ purses. That put it into perspective, especially when I’ll look at a boxer and realize that he doesn’t train harder than me. For everything I’ve already done and what I bring to the table, and what a lot of us do, we should be taken care of more long-term, that’s all.”
Swanson's last fight with a disclosed pay amount was UFC on FOX 19 from April of 2016, where he made $44,000 to show and $44,000 to win. Unfortunately for him, that just seems to be the going rate for a top featherweight that's not setting the world on fire like Conor and Ronda did. Ricardo Lamas made $53k/$53k in his last fight, and Max Holloway was making $75k/$75k before making it to the title. There may be a little room to grow in the UFC without a title, but not too much.
Of course, there’s always Bellator....