UFC 256’s Cub Swanson: Belt Was Never the Ultimate Goal

For many, 2020 has been a struggle. For Cub Swanson, he’s had the same 2020 as everyone else — with the added difficulty of returning from a serious injury.

After sustaining a knee injury at Quintet Ultra, Swanson’s year has seen him work towards a return from ACL surgery. Which he will finally accomplish when he steps into the octagon at UFC 256 against Daniel Pineda.

“It was tough. I pretty much was doing physical therapy three times a week [on the knee] and then like a regular strength training twice a week, because I didn’t want to lose mobility in my shoulders and definition other places,” he told Cageside Press during a UFC 256 media day this week. “So basically, me and my wife, we lost our babysitter with the lockdowns and everything. We were trading off, I would work out all morning and then be with the kids that night, and she would go to work.”

Swanson pretty much had to maintain that schedule all year. When quarantine hit, he was able to continue to work out because it was essential. “I just had to do it with a mask on, which wasn’t easy, sometimes doing two, two and a half hour workouts with the mask on. So I didn’t get why people were complaining [about wearing a mask].”

Swanson recently exited the UFC’s official featherweight rankings — and he has found an upside in that. “It is a little freeing,” he admitted.

“I’ve said this many times, that my goal when I got into this sport was to just try to be a better human, and to try to see how good I can be, by accomplishing goals. But somewhere along the line, you feel like you have to be the world champ to be validated, doing this as a career,” explained Swanson. “Killer” Cub feels as if he earned the right to try for the belt, “but was never given that opportunity. Multiple times. So that left me a little bitter over time.”

When he really thought about it, however, “to have a shiny belt was never my ultimate goal. It would have been nice to have that stamp on my career. And if it was offered to me, I would still take it. But my ultimate goal is to be the best version of myself. And now that I’m not worried about like any kind of rankings or anything like that, I get excited about names and possibilities of fights.”

Watch the full UFC 256 virtual media day pres scrum with Cub Swanson above. The event takes place this Saturday, December 12 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.