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Even if he lacks a major mixed martial arts championship when he
reaches the end of the road, Cub Swanson
will one day rest easy with all he has accomplished.

The longtime
Ultimate Fighting Championship
veteran will meet Giga
Chikadze
in the
UFC on ESPN 23
co-main event this Saturday at the UFC Apex in
Las Vegas. Swanson, 37, enters the Octagon on the strength of
back-to-back victories. He last appeared at UFC 256 on Dec. 12,
when he wiped out Daniel
Pineda
with punches a little less than two minutes into the
second round of their encounter. “Killer Cub” has delivered 16 of
his 27 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or
submission.

As Swanson prepares for his three-round battle with Chikadze, a
look at five of the moments that have come to define him:

1. Blinded by the Light

Swanson never stood a chance against Jose Aldo in
the WEC 41 co-main event on June 7, 2009 at ARCO Arena in
Sacramento, California. Blindsided by a wicked flying knee, Swanson
withered at the feet of the Brazilian featherweight contender in a
technical knockout loss that lasted all of eight seconds. Aldo,
just 22 years of age at the time, scored a direct hit with his knee
shortly after the opening bell, and Swanson crumbled immediately to
the mat in pain, his left eye cut by the blow. Follow-up strikes
finished it, but it became clear soon after Swanson folded that he
was finished. He had won 13 of his previous 14 bouts and had never
been knocked out. Aldo went on to capture the
World Extreme Cagefighting
featherweight crown some five months
later.

2. Flipping the Switch

Swanson knocked out Charles
Oliveira
with a looping overhand right in the first round of
their UFC 152 featherweight showcase on Sept. 22, 2012 at the Air
Canada Centre in Toronto. The
Jackson-Wink MMA
standout drew the curtain 2:40 into Round 1.
Oliveira struck for a takedown inside the first minute but failed
to capitalize. Once he returned to his feet, Swanson landed a
crippling left hook to the body and, not long after, delivered the
fight-ending blow. Oliveira—who missed weight for the match and
later moved to the lightweight division—remained upright for a
brief moment before crumpling to the canvas in a bizarre delayed
reaction.

3. Firefight for the Ages

In a firefight for the ages, Swanson outlasted Doo Ho Choi
to a unanimous decision at UFC 206 on Dec. 10, 2016. All three
cageside judges scored it for Swanson: 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. Choi
found success in the first round with standing knee strikes from
the front headlock position, precision jabs and stabbing straight
right hands to the body. A brawl developed in the middle frame,
giving way to perhaps the most memorable five minutes of 2016. Both
men were hurt during wild exchanges. Swanson executed a takedown
and mounted briefly before returning to his feet, where he landed
everything from a spinning backfist and a cartwheel kick to
sweeping hooks with both hands. Still, Choi refused to go away.
Swanson was in trouble early in Round 3 but regained momentum with
a head-and-arm throw. They spent the final minute firing power
punches at one another. His 13-fight winning streak nearing its
end, Choi collapsed in the waning seconds and absorbed heavy
ground-and-pound until the horn sounded, the crowd inside the Air
Canada Centre in Toronto roaring its approval.

4. Caught in a Vice

Brian
Ortega
submitted Swanson with a guillotine choke in the second
round of their UFC Fight Night 123 headliner on Dec. 9, 2017 at the
Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. His neck hopelessly caught
in a vice, Swanson bowed out 3:22 into Round 2. Ortega held his own
in the standup exchanges despite a significant disparity in speed
and experience. Swanson cut loose with body-head combinations,
mixing in leg kicks whenever possible. Late in the first round,
Ortega bit down on a brabo choke while standing, rolled to a more
manageable position on the mat and had his counterpart in
legitimate trouble when the horn sounded. The action followed much
the same narrative in the second round—until Ortega bullied his way
into the clinch. A knee strike to the body on the break had Swanson
bending over ever so slightly and gave “T-City” the only opening he
needed. He latched onto the guillotine, readjusted his grip
mid-choke in a brilliant piece of technical grappling and forced
the tapout.

5. More in the Tank

Swanson stopped a downward spiral and registered his first win in
more than two years when he laid claim to a unanimous decision over
2013 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships
gold medalist Kron Gracie
in the UFC Fight Night 161 co-feature on Oct. 12, 2019 at Amalie
Arena in Tampa, Florida. All three cageside judges arrived at the
same verdict: 30-27 for Swanson. The brutality was off the charts.
Gracie ate repeated blows to the head and body but kept moving
forward, showing no regard for his well-being as a majority of his
attempts to initiate a ground battle failed. While he may have been
outmatched in terms of skill in the standup exchanges, the
Brazilian’s toughness, grit and unshakeable will kept him
competitive in all three rounds and made sure Swanson would not
leave the cage unscathed. Gracie wrapped the Californian in full
guard with 40 seconds remaining in the fight but failed to
capitalize on the brief window of opportunity. The victory closed
the book on Swanson’s career-worst four-fight losing streak.


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