Cub Swanson has contemplated a move to the sweet science. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Despite his recent run of success, these are somewhat frustrating times for Cub Swanson.
The red-hot featherweight has won six straight fights in the UFC, yet the division’s No. 1 contender spot has only been a tease. Swanson faces Frankie Edgar at UFC Fight Night in Austin on Saturday, and while he believes a victory there would earn him a title shot, there are still no guarantees.
UFC President Dana White continued to waffle between top contender candidates during a recent interview with Fox Sports.
“If Cub Swanson wins this fight, we did tell him we would give him a title shot,” White said.
That information would normally bode well for Swanson, but moments earlier, White declared that Conor McGregor could be in line for a date with Jose Aldo if he defeats Dennis Siver on Jan. 18.
"Then you have Conor McGregor. Everybody has been talking about Conor McGregor,” White said. “This kid burst onto the scene and if he wins in Boston, and that fight is live and free on FOX Sports 1, if he wins that fight in Boston we could be talking about a big fight with Jose Aldo."
How would Swanson react if he beats Edgar and is leapfrogged by McGregor?
“Who knows? At this point I don’t know what the possibilities are,” Swanson told Sherdog.com. “All I know is that, in my mind, I finish Frankie Edgar, that I’m getting that title shot. That’s all that’s on my mind. If I don’t get that, who knows? Maybe I’ll do something different. Maybe I’ll go start boxing.”
It isn’t the first time the Californian has contemplated a career in the sweet science. The idea first crossed his mind during his WEC employment; and the notion has continued into his Octagon tenure. During the especially injury-riddled portions of his MMA run, Swanson seriously considered making a full-time transition from the cage to the ring -- or at the very least, taking a match here and there during his downtime.
“When I’ve had frustrations before with injuries, I’ve asked the UFC a few times if I could do it and they weren’t up for it, which I completely understand. When you’re in the top of the sport you have to have all your attention on one thing,” he said. “There’s plenty of people who have their attention on that one thing. I completely understand. It is something that I’d like to try.
“It’s something I feel like I’m pretty good at. I actually really considered switching to boxing. All my trainers thought I had a big upside to doing that as a career.”
Swanson currently splits his training camps between Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., and at Joel and Edgar Diaz’s boxing gym in California. Former WBO welterweight champion and Diaz pupil Timothy Bradley served as Swanson’s main sparring partner for his current camp. Bradley faces Diego Chaves approximately three weeks after Swanson fights Edgar, so the timing worked out well.
“He was just getting back into shape, and he asked if I could come help. I was sparring with him quite a bit. He’s shorter than me, which is a good look for Frankie, so it just worked out,” Swanson said. “I’m sparring the best of the best. That’s why I don’t show any fear when I’m in there with these guys.”
Although he has been encouraged to take a shot at professional boxing by his coaches in the past, Swanson is aware of the pitfalls that that accompany such a switch. While he is close to the pinnacle in MMA, getting to that same level in another sport this late in the game could prove difficult.
“The thing is I wouldn’t take a fight and try to call out somebody at the top. I would have to work my way up from the bottom and take the beginning fights. I’m sure I could get bigger fights because of my name in this sport, but it wouldn’t make sense because it’s a whole [different] animal,” he said. “There’s little subtleties in [boxing] that make a good fighter not as good as a veteran. Just like this sport. I would have to work my way up. For me to have to do all that would take time. Is it worth it at my age?”
While the 31-year-old fighter hasn’t completely given up the dream of boxing professionally, it makes more sense to stay where he’s at -- on the brink of a title shot. In terms of pure boxing in the featherweight division, Swanson doesn’t see anyone who can match his skills.
“In my division, I’d say Max Holloway has got some very crisp punches. Aldo has very fast hands, but I don’t think he has great boxing. I think he has very hard kicks and knees but very good timing. That’s why I feel like I match up well against him,” Swanson said.
“As far guys in my division I don’t really see too many guys with amazing boxing that impresses me. Everyone does kickboxing or they have boxing trainers that they say are legit, but I don’t even know who they are. My boxing coach won boxing trainer of the year over Freddie Roach. Right now he’s the best boxing coach in the world, arguably. Having him and Greg Jackson in my corner is a pretty good combination.”