Cub Swanson has finished four of his last five opponents. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Cub Swanson has broken his hand eight times and once had his jaw wired shut. He knows the meaning of perseverance.
Swanson will try to take what he hopes will be a final step towards challenging for the Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight crown when he battles Jeremy Stephens in the UFC Fight Night “Swanson vs. Stephens” headliner on Saturday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Adversity has been a constant companion for the 30-year-old Jackson-Wink MMA representative.
“Having so many bumps in the road, I felt like I could never catch my rhythm,” Swanson told Sherdog.com. “I’ve gone through so much that I never felt like I could get a running start. Finally, I was just like, ‘Whatever.’ I stopped caring about certain things and started enjoying myself and what I do and just trusted that I’m great, no matter what happens.”
Swanson will enter the cage on the strength of a five-fight winning streak. He last appeared at UFC 162 in July, when he stopped Dennis Siver on third-round punches at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Swanson has delivered 15 of his 20 wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission, but he has never fought beyond the third round as a professional. That could change against Stephens.
“I’m not thinking about it,” Swanson said. “I think early in my camp, I thought about it a lot more. I kind of trained 12 weeks out so I could have basically a bigger gas tank in the long run. Now that I’m closer, I’m not worried about it. I’m worried about getting in there and performing from the first round [on], and I’m going to take it one round at a time. I know I’m fully capable of going five fives.”
Stephens has garnered plenty of attention since downshifting from 155 pounds. The Alliance MMA export has rattled off three straight wins over Estevan Payan, Rony Mariano Bezerra and Darren Elkins.
“Anytime somebody drops down from a weight class to a new weight class, it’s a fresh start,” Swanson said. “He’s fought everybody at 55, all the big names. He’s got wins and losses, but he hung with the best of ’em. Then he dropped down to 45 and he’s 3-0, so you can’t really argue with that. I’ve seen his fights. I know what he brings to the table. I know he’s dangerous, but it’s nothing I don’t feel like I can’t deal with.”
The UFC is taking its time and allowing Kelvin Gastelum to marinate.
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 winner will meet Nicholas Musoke in the UFC Fight Night “Swanson vs. Stephens” co-main event, as he aims to keep his perfect professional record intact and improve to 4-0 inside the Octagon. Gastelum, 22, passed a significant test at UFC 171 in November, when he eked out a split decision over notoriously rugged Brave Legion export Rick Story at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas.
A stablemate of light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson, Musoke has touched off his UFC career with consecutive victories over Alessio Sakara and Viscardi Andrade. Unbeaten his past eight appearances, the 28-year-old Swede has not lost since dropping a unanimous decision to Cathal Pendred more than three years ago.
“Nico is not very well-known, but he is young and hungry and has looked impressive in his last two bouts in the UFC,” Gastelum said in his pre-fight interview with UFC.com. “I think my pressure will be too much for him to handle.”
THIS & THAT
The AT&T Center opened in October 2002 at a cost of $186 million and currently plays host to the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars and the American Hockey League’s San Antonio Rampage ... Neither Cezar Ferreira nor Andrew Craig has ever lost back-to-back fights ... Ricardo Lamas wrestled collegiately at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Ill., where he still ranks fourth on the school’s all-time career wins list with 112 ... A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Roberto Correa, Antonio Braga Neto is a two-time Mundials gold medalist ... The twin brother of UFC welterweight Jake Ellenberger, Joe Ellenberger has compiled a 4-1 mark since returning to MMA after being diagnosed with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, a rare, life-threatening blood disorder ... Undefeated newcomer Carlos Diego Ferreira has already captured titles inside the Legacy Fighting Championship and South Texas Fighting Championship promotions ... When Ray Borg was born on Aug. 4, 1993, the top five movies at the domestic box office were “Rising Sun,” “Robin Hood: Men in Tights,” “In the Line of Fire,” “Free Willy” and “Jurassic Park” ... Marcelo Guimaraes lists former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Wanderlei Silva as his hero ... Russian heavyweight Alexey Oleinik has secured 39 of his 48 career victories by submission, including 10 by Ezekiel choke, nine by rear-naked choke, five by triangle choke four by armbar, three by heel hook, two each by neck crank and arm-triangle choke and one each by scarf hold and guillotine choke. He forced two other opponents to tap to strikes ... The four men to whom Tachi Palace Fights veteran Cody Gibson has lost -- David Bollea, Ulysses Gomez, Casey Olson and Aljamain Sterling -- own a combined 35-10 record ... UFC Fight Night “Swanson vs. Stephens” will be the 279th event the Ultimate Fighting Championship has staged.