After defeating Jeremy Stephens with an impressive five round showing in the main event of June 28’s UFC Fight Night 44 from San Antonio, Texas, No. 3-ranked UFC featherweight Cub Swanson could be in line for a 145-pound title shot in the near future.
But this week, Swanson is in Dublin, Ireland, in support of his training partner and teammate Diego Brandao, who is public enemy No. 1 heading into his pivotal main event showdown with Irish star Conor McGregor at tomorrow’s (July 19, 2014) UFC Fight Night 46 from the O2 Arena.
Living up to his nickname “Notorious,” McGregor has put the whole featherweight division on blast after only two wins over mid-level opposition. McGregor believes he’s headed for a title shot by the end of this year, and Swanson thinks this is why he’s going to lose tomorrow.
Recounting an exchange he had with McGregor, Swanson told The Telegraph that he isn’t focused on Brandao, and that will prevent him from rising to the top:
“He said: ‘Do you want to see what a number-one contender looks like?’ I said: ‘Yeah, I’ll just look in the mirror.’ And he just laughed. That’s how the conversation really went. I told him to focus on his fight because he’s got a tough fight coming up.
He said: ‘No, I don’t. I have an easy fight.’ Again, I just laughed and said: ‘Look, man, if you live up to your fight, maybe we’ll fight some day, but focus on your fight. You don’t need to talk crap to me.’ I was trying to give him advice but he’s not big on taking it.”
Swanson may have a good point, because if McGregor is truly looking past Brandao with the weight of the Irish Nation on his shoulders, he could be in for a disappointing night. Brandao has struggled with his own personal issues in the past, but Swanson said that the fact he has gotten past them is what makes him dangerous:
“I’ve noticed how dangerous Brandão is and right now, because he’s happy, his worst enemy is himself. I’ve been in that position before. He’s not emotional and he’s not buying into that hype. That’s better for him and it makes him more dangerous.”
That very well could be true, but McGregor appears beyond motivated to make Brandao a stepping-stone on his way to the top. If he destroys Brandao, a match-up with Swanson could be in the cards sometime soon. If it does, the confident Swanson isn’t worried:
“I think it’s an easier fight for me. He’s tried to pick my game apart and tell me that I suck and that my style is old. But it’s crazy. I think I’m ahead of the curve right now. I’m a trendsetter.
He wants to be me. I could learn stuff from him in terms of hyping myself but that’s not my personality. I’ve been fortunate enough to do it my way. I don’t hype myself into something I’m not. I let my fighting do the talking.”
Swanson is all about business as usual. He may be on a collision course with McGregor despite being deserving of a title shot; we’ll have to wait and see.
But one thing has been become glaringly certain: it’s an exciting time for the UFC featherweight division.
Photo: Troy Taormina for USA TODAY Sports