Cub Swanson isn’t done fighting just yet, but the UFC veteran is hoping to have everything in place when he does decide to step away from the sport.
Of course, this would include Swanson’s health. As a family man who wants to stick around for his children it’s important for Swanson to maintain his health after fighting and steer clear of any lasting effects from his career. This is much easier said than done considering how dangerous and unforgiving the life of a cage fighter can be.
Still, Swanson is already thinking about life after fighting and what that would look like for him and his family. Swanson discussed these things with reporters earlier this week ahead of his Octagon return at UFC 256 against featherweight finisher Daniel Pineda.
“I wonder that,” said Swanson when asked if the wear and tear on his body with hurt him down the line. “Especially with having kids, I just hope that I’m able to have health insurance all the way through and get the things I need to get done. I realize that I put my body through a lot, but I’ve always thought at the same time if I was a plumber or any kind of worker in that industry, which a lot of people that I grew up with are, I would imagine that their bodies feel the same, their backs are wrecked.
“But they were just being a lot more unhealthy with their eating, so I think I’ve abused my joints and things like that, but I’ve been eating healthy and not doing drugs for so long that I feel like I’ve treated my body good in that sense. It’s on my mind here and there, but I think as long as I stay in shape and do all the things necessary to clean up my joints and do all that kind of stuff, then I’ll be fine.”
Swanson, 37, is coming off a fairly serious knee injury suffered in a grappling match last December. It came just a few months after his Fight of the Night performance opposite Kron Gracie at UFC on ESPN+ 19. Swanson was hoping to take that win and really make a push towards the top 10 in 2020. That obviously didn’t happen and it has left Swanson needing another win heading into next year.
Like Swanson, fighters suffer injuries all the time, both in and out of competition. UFC is good enough to take care of those incidents and foot most of the medical costs, but nothing is really set up for fighters after they’re done stepping inside of the cage. Just ask former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, who asked UFC earlier this year to help pay for an infection stemming from a fight 16 years ago and the promotion did nothing about it.
Swanson, who is no stranger to injuries and long layoffs, would love for UFC to set up a long-term health insurance plan for fighters who retire or are no longer able to compete. It will help give some of these athletes peace of mind for the future as they put their bodies on the line each and every fight.
“I definitely do, but that’s not my call,” Swanson said. “I definitely think that a lot of these fighters should be taken care of long-term. But I feel like we’re in that kind of situation where it’s, like, the early NFL players. We’re the ones that kind of set the standard, and then the next generation are probably going to get all the benefits from us growing the sport.
“But I also can’t try to rip on them in any way, because they’ve blessed me with the opportunity to have a great life, and when I did injure this knee that I was insured through the grappling tournament. The UFC was like, ‘No, we’re gonna handle it,’ and they took over and they made sure I got to see the right surgeon and they were on top of it, paid for everything. They do a good job with things like that. As far as making sure we’re taken care of long-term, hopefully that happens in the future.”
As for his fight this weekend against Pineda, Swanson had to fight tooth-and-nail to get back to fight shape. From his knee injury last December to an unprecedented year of COVID-19, the veteran fighter had to travel a long road to get back to where he is now.
“It was tough,” Swanson said. “I pretty much was doing physical therapy three times a week and then regular strength training twice a week because I didn’t want to lose mobility in my shoulders and definition in other places, so basically me and my wife we lost our babysitter with the lockdowns and everything – we were trading off. I would work out all morning and then be with the kids at night, and then she would go to work. That was our schedule, and I was doing five days a week and I pretty much maintained that all year.
“Even with the quarantine, when that happened, I was able to continue to work out because it was essential – I just had to do it with a mask on, which wasn’t easy. Sometimes doing two, two-and-a-half hour workouts with the mask on, so I didn’t get why people were complaining about it. It was difficult, but I got through and I’m here and I’m ready.”
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