Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight talents Cub Swanson and Kron Gracie will collide this Saturday (Oct. 12, 2019) at UFC Fight Night 161 from inside Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.
Times have been rough for 35-year-old “Killer Cub.” Swanson has lost his previous four bouts to an admittedly very high level of competition, but he’s been effectively forced out of the title picture. His path will grow no less difficult however, as the striker now faces a member of the legendary Gracie family. Kron Gracie is a decorated black belt and ADCC gold medalist, one of the nastiest submission fighters on the roster. He’s still early in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career though, and this is a major step up in competition.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
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: Frankie Edgar (UFC Fight Night 128), UFC Fight Night 57), Max Holloway (UFC on FOX 15), Brian Ortega (UFC Fight Night 123), Renato Moicano (UFC 227)
Keys to Victory: Swanson is a very creative striker. He likes to first destabilize his opponent with calf kicks, which tends to make it harder for them to keep up with his erratic movement. Afterward, Swanson will lunge in with looping punches, and he’s quite comfortable once in the pocket.
Despite being a black belt himself, Swanson has been submitted seven times in his long professional career, so denying the takedown will be absolutely key for Swanson. In general, Swanson is pretty good at stopping traditional double legs, but in the past, he’s been tricked up by the more awkward clinch work and tricks of jiu-jitsu guys.
As such, Swanson has to stay far away from Gracie without putting his back to the fence. The calf kick may just be a pivotal weapon for Swanson in this match up. It’s a difficult kick to catch, and it can quickly immobilize an opponent, particularly one who strikes from a boxing-oriented stance like Gracie.
Swanson’s strategy is simple on paper: keep moving, hammer the calf, and surprise Gracie with quick combinations. It may prove difficult to execute, though.
Key Wins: Tatsuya Kawajiri (Rizin World Grandprix 2016: Final Round), Alex Caceres (UFC on ESPN 1), Hideo Tokoro (Rizin World Grandprix 2016: First Round)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Gracie may want to get his opponent to the mat, but he is not desperate to do so like many of his past family members. A training partner of the Diaz brothers, Gracie quite likes to stalk his opponent and keep a high-volume of punches on his foes. Eventually, this leads to the clinch and either a takedown or guard pull.
Each of his five victories came via submission.
Gracie’s work with the Diaz brothers has proven an effective recipe for success thus far in his career, but it’s important that he learns from their losses as well. Gracie can mimic the flat-footed shuffle a bit too accurately, and it’s even more difficult to implement that style of footwork against the more mobile fighters at 145 pounds. Swanson is going make himself a difficult target and kick the legs, so Gracie should be a bit more ready to check and focus on cutting off the cage.
Aside from that, Gracie would be wise to take a note from Brian Ortega. Ortega was unable to land traditional takedowns on Swanson from the clinch, but he was twice able to snatch up his neck as Swanson looked to pull away. Latching onto a choke merely to gain top position would be a smart strategy for Gracie, as would pulling guard if the takedown proves truly elusive.
Bottom Line: It’s a pretty important bout for either man, and it should be plenty of fun to watch.
Is Swanson at risk of getting released with a loss? Personally, I would hope not because of the exciting nature of his fights and high level of competition. At the same time, would it surprise me to see a 35-year-old Featherweight released after five consecutive defeats? Not at all. Swanson’s UFC career might just be on the line, and he hasn’t been thrown a softball.
As for Gracie, this is a big opportunity. He’s proven himself skilled enough for a spot on the roster, but it’s been a long time since a member of the Gracie family was truly a contender. A win over Swanson does not carry the weight it did a couple years ago, but it would still be enough to at least set Gracie up with a Top 15 match up next. Considering how short on professional experience Gracie is, that’s quite an accomplishment already.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 161 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 161: “Joanna vs. Waterson” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
At UFC Fight Night 161, Cub Swanson and Kron Gracie will square off. Which man will have his hand raised?