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LAS VEGAS – Cub Swanson expects his experience to play a major factor against one of the brightest prospects in the UFC’s featherweight division.
Having competed against a who’s who list of contenders throughout his UFC tenure, Swanson has seen it all. He holds notable wins over current title challenger Charles Oliveira and former interim champion Dustin Poirier but is also no stranger to killing hype trains such as Doo Ho Choi and Kron Gracie.
In Chikadze, Swanson sees a talented fighter, but one that hasn’t been tested yet, and he plans on showing him that there are levels to this game.
“I really respect his strengths which are obviously his kicks and his kickboxing background,” Swanson told MMA Junkie at UFC on ESPN 23 media day on Wednesday. “I don’t think he’s as well-rounded as he needs to be to be at the top of the UFC in our division. I know he’s working all those things and he’s got a good team. He’s got a good record, and I don’t think the guys he’s fought have been the best of the division yet, so I don’t think he deserves to be up at the top yet. I think he’s on his way, and he’s got to get through me, obviously, and I think I’m going to be a tough test for him. I see myself reminding people why I’ve been around for so long.”
He continued, “At this point in martial arts, it’s about who dictates the pace and who dictates the distance, and I think that’s the major key here. For him to win, he likes a certain distance. He likes to maintain his pace that he feels comfortable that he can throw all his kicks and move around and be elusive, and I need to disrupt that. I need to be on the outside moving, as well, and in his face and then roughing him up, making him uncomfortable, make him tired, and all those things messes his rhythm up. I’m confident I can do that, and that just makes him think ‘I’m having an off night,’ and that means it’s a good night for me.”
Swanson is back on a winning streak for the first time since April 2017. He’s coming off back-to-back wins over Gracie and Daniel Pineda, and the 37-year-old says he still has some fight left in him as he makes his 20th octagon appearance.
“I honestly think I got a couple more years,” Swanson said. “I literally take every fight like it’s my last. I’ve been doing that for a while because I’ve had some major injuries in my career, and it’s made me really know that it could be taken away at any moment, so that’s been kind of amazing that I’ve been around for this long. But yeah, I think I got a couple more years.
“I don’t really want to put too much on it because a couple of wins drags you this way, losses drag you this way. I’m taking it one thing at a time, but I would love an ideal scenario to work my way up the rankings one more time and above all, I’d love a retirement fight in Palm Springs. They’re building a 10,000-person arena, hockey arena in Palm Springs, and I would love to bring this sport back to my hometown where I started.”
UFC on ESPN 23 takes place at the UFC Apex. The entire card airs on ESPN2 and streams on ESPN+.
Watch the video above for Swanson’s entire UFC on ESPN 23 media day interview.