Featherweight veteran Cub Swanson will look to extend his current UFC win streak to four when he takes on Artem Lobov later tonight (Sat., April 22, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 108 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. The 145-pound tilt will serve as the main event and essentially pit one of the more creative strikers in the division against one of the more bullish.
If Swanson is able to stick-and-move his way past Lobov then his 2017 campaign will feature another run at UFC gold. But if Swanson falls victim to the power punching of “Russian Hammer,” then it will be Lobov who sinks his teeth into the top 10 by year’s end. With much at stake, here are the keys to victory for both fighters as Swanson and Lobov aim to leave UFC Fight Night 108 victorious.
1) Stay creative...
Based on the ability to mix in kicks, launch unpredictable attacks, create distance, change levels and fluctuate between precision and power, Swanson is undoubtedly one of the slickest and most creative strikers at 145 pounds. In order to push past the brutish offensive force that is Lobov, Swanson must remain consistently creative throughout this fight to put himself in the best position to win.
The only problem is that Swanson often gets lulled into a brawl. Just look at his last Octagon appearance opposite Doo Ho Choi, in which Swanson and “Korean Superboy” combined for a whopping 188 total strikes through just three rounds. While Swanson held his own, he’d be smart to avoid similar exchanges with Lobov by leaning on his kicks, spinning techniques, in-and-out combinations and even a takedown or two.
2) Consistent footwork...
Outside of mixing up his strikes on the feet, and in the clinch, it’s key that Swanson remains mobile. With some of the better footwork in the division, it shouldn’t be too difficult for Swanson to circle away from dangerous exchanges. He’ll also have to rely on his inside footwork to win the close encounters that could spell immediate disaster at the heavy hands of “Russian Hammer.”
If Swanson is able to hop around the cage like we’ve seen him do in the past, remaining light on his feet and picking his shots with caution, then he may very well limit Lobov’s power, force him to fight on the move and sap his energy along the way.
1) Set traps...
Swanson is a shifty, intelligent, and crafty veteran. He understands distance control, footwork, and how to hit without being hit. To remedy Swanson’s innate strengths and quickest route to victory, Lobov must cut him off at every turn, corral him against the cage and force him to fight in a phone booth. This is where Lobov is at his best and Swanson’s gives up his chin the most.
Of course, Lobov will surely absorb some sort of damage as he rushes in and gets closer to Swanson, so it’s important that he does it methodically and doesn’t rely on his chin to take the brunt of any ill-advised mistakes. If Lobov can close the gap on the feet, force Swanson to strike with his back off the cage and limit the veteran’s effectiveness from range, then “Russian Hammer” will find a home for his power early and often.
2) Retain power...
Whether Lobov is able to trap Swanson inside or forced to fight him on the outer edges of contact, the Straight Blast Gym knockout artist is going to have to land his power to win this fight. He’s not going to pick apart Swanson with combinations, tactical offensive outbursts or suffocating ground-and-pound. Instead, Lobov is going to wind up and launch his leather will the intention of kicking Swanson out of Nashville early.
This all sounds like a plan, but what happens if Swanson can stomach Lobov’s early advancements and forces this fight into deep water? Odds are that Lobov would struggle to remain effective in the later rounds if he unloads unfiltered fury over the course of the first 10 minutes. In order to prepare himself for the long run, Lobov must understand when to pull his punches and retain his power. If he’s unable to do so, Swanson may end up running circles around “Russian Hammer” once his knockout ability evaporates.
Prediction: Swanson via fourth-round TKO
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 108 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.