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Cub Swanson fulfilled the final fight on his Ultimate Fighting Championship contract at UFC Fight Night 123 on Saturday in Fresno, California. After it was over and even though Swanson lost to a promising up-and-comer in Brian Ortega, UFC President Dana White told the perennial featherweight contender: “Let’s get a deal done.” It was another sign that Swanson is not your average, ordinary competitor. Usually, fighters are not encouraged to negotiate new contracts in the immediate aftermath of a high-profile defeat.
Swanson was on a four-fight winning streak before being beaten by the undefeated Ortega. He troubled Ortega with timing, speed and unorthodox angles during their standup exchanges. Both featherweights hold black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but Ortega’s choke attacks turned the tide in his favor. He nearly finished it at the end of the first round before closing out Swanson in Round 2.
To Swanson’s credit, he managed to survive Ortega’s first submission attempt by keeping his body straight and not allowing “T-City” to tie up his legs to complete the brabo choke. However, Ortega caught him in a standing guillotine in the second round, made a quick adjustment with his hands and, with gravity on his side, secured the tapout from Swanson.
During the post-fight press conference, Swanson claimed he felt more in tune with what Ortega was throwing at him heading into the second round.
“I was landing big body shots, big leg kicks,” he said. “Everything I wanted to execute, I was doing. I felt great, and I messed up.”
When asked about whether or not he planned to renew his contract with the UFC, Swanson remained non-committal.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll negotiate. Dana just said out there, ‘Let’s make a deal,’ outside the cage. Do I got to crawl back and say ‘yes’ to the deal I said ‘no’ to?”
Swanson has five “Fight of the Night” performances on his resume, and even though he has come up short in higher profile opportunities, it has not been because of a lack of effort. He could test free agency at a time when the sport is growing globally and Bellator MMA is snatching a number of marquee fighters from the UFC roster. Swanson has a lot to think about. Bellator President Scott Coker is not shy about aggressively pursuing exciting free agents and putting them front and center to boost viewership. See Benson Henderson, Gegard Mousasi, Ryan Bader and others.
Will Swanson stay or will he go?
Edward Carbajal serves as the lead MMA analyst for Frontproof Media and holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a brown belt in Ishin Ryu Karate. He has covered combat sports since 2014 and has been a fan of MMA since UFC 1. You can follow Edward on Twitter @Carbazel or at his website, TheBlogBoardJungle.com.