Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight bruisers Cub Swanson and Artem Lobov will clash TONIGHT (April 22, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 108 inside Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee.
Swanson has been fighting top contenders for years, but he was written off by many a couple years back after a pair of consecutive submission losses. Since then, Swanson has put together a trio of high quality wins, capped off by a “Fight of the Year”-winner opposite a top prospect.
Tonight, he’ll take a step backwards to face off with “The Russian Hammer.” Credit to Lobov, he’s won his last two bouts after an ugly start to his UFC career, but this is undoubtedly a massive step up in competition for the veteran.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for both men.
Key Wins: Doo Ho Choi (UFC 206), Jeremy Stephens (UFC Fight Night 44), Hacran Dias (UFC on FOX 19), Charles Oliveira (UFC 152)
Key Losses: Max Holloway (UFC on FOX 15), Frankie Edgar (UFC Fight Night 57). Ricardo Lamas (UFC on FOX 1)
Keys to Victory: Swanson is one of the trickiest and most violent veterans around. On his feet, Swanson is a slick boxer with big power and a penchant for wild strikes, but it’s also worth mentioning that Swanson is skilled on the mat as well.
In this bout, Swanson has a ton of options. Can he walk into the center and brawl with Lobov immediately? Totally, there’s decent chance he does just that and a higher chance that he’ll win the slugfest. He could also look to pick apart Lobov at range, or really switch things up and exploit Lobov’s takedown defense.
Swanson is not an 8-1 underdog by accident.
However, the smartest strategy would be to take advantage of Lobov’s known issues. If Swanson circles away from his foe’s power and feints to draw out counters, he likely won’t have much trouble at all finding the eventual knockout punch.
Record: 13-12-1 (1)
Key Wins: Teruto Ishihara (UFC Fight Night 99), Martin Svensson (Trophy MMA 3)
Key Losses: Ryan Hall (TUF 22 Finale), Alex White (UFC Fight Night 82)
Keys to Victory: Lobov is a stalking counter puncher with some solid pop in his punches. He’s not the best athlete in the world, but Lobov is certainly a tough scrapper with some thought behind his approach to kickboxing.
Despite the words that come from his mouth, Lobov is no true knockout artist. When leading, Lobov does not fire off crisp deadly punches — look at Swanson’s previous opponent for that trait — which is not to say he hits softly, but there’s a reason Lobov has only knocked out four opponents in a whopping 27 fights.
Lobov may not have brutal power, but he does have a solid sense of timing. If he can catch his foe leaning in, Lobov doesn’t need brutal speed or power, as his foe can provide a great deal of the force necessary.
To land that counter shot, Lobov should continue to antagonize and bait Swanson whenever possible. “Killer Cub” is a showman, and Lobov could capitalize if he’s able to get his foe to attack recklessly.
Bottom Line: It may not be super relevant, but it should be violent.
Swanson enters this bout in an odd situation. He didn’t have to accept a step back with someone like Lobov; he likely did it for the main event slot and all the accompanying bonuses. In all likelihood, his choice will result in a relatively easy payday and new footage for his highlight reel, allowing Swanson to then return to fighting top fighters.
If Swanson somehow flubs it up and loses, his win streak and momentum are ruined, which would be pretty disastrous at this stage in his career.
As for Lobov, his mouth and connections earned him an opportunity that plenty of Featherweights would kill for. If he can manage to win, the world will be forced to take Lobov (semi) seriously as a potential contender.
If not, Lobov has no real ground to lose, and this fight continues to establish him as something of a name at 145 lbs.
TONIGHT at UFC Fight Night 108, Cub Swanson and Artem Lobov will meet in the main event. Which man will have his hand raised?