UFC 256: Cub Swanson Not Looking to “Climb that Ladder” for Title Shot

Las Vegas, NV — “Killer” Cub Swanson lived up to his name at UFC 256.

Returning from a year-long layoff, Swanson (27-11) earned his second consecutive win in the UFC’s stacked featherweight division. In the process, putting a little distance between himself and the four-fight skid he went on between 2017 and 2019.

His return fight was no walk in the park, mind you. “I knew he was dangerous, I knew it was a dangerous fight to come back to,” Swanson told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight at the UFC Apex on Saturday. Opponent Daniel Pineda might not be a household name to the casual fans — but Swanson knew what he brought to the table. A second-round knockout carries a little more weight than it might otherwise seem, given Pineda’s own veteran status.

It’s been a long road to get to this point for Cub Swanson. “It’s 2020. Everyone’s feeling it,” he noted. For his part, Swanson was feeling it “just from having to do rehab, five days a week, wearing a mask. All kinds of people are complaining about having to wear them, I had to wear them while doing crazy cardio.”

Financially, Swanson wasn’t making any money while on the shelf. There was the added concern of keeping his training partners, and kids, safe from COVID-19. “It was a tough journey. It was a crazy year. And I’m pretty proud to be here right now.”

Then there was the hit his confidence took earlier this week. “This journey is crazy. It’s a it’s a roller coaster for all of us. And sometimes, you’re full of confidence, and sometimes you’re not,” admitted Swanson. “That four or five [fight] losing streak really made it difficult for me and basically I decided to, mentally, be a part time fighter and a part time dad. Realistically full time of each. But I wanted to do that at this point in my life, and I wanted to take that on.”

When the losing streak hit, however, Swanson had to question himself about whether he was still on the right track, or whether he was done. “Are you just not that good anymore? Or is it really you just got to figure it out? And I just felt deep down, I needed to figure it out. And I feel like these last two fights, even though they’re far apart, I’ve really showed that I’ve made improvements. I’m still one of the best. And I know people still enjoy watching me fight, and I still love doing it.”

Being injured — Swanson has been off a year thanks to ACL surgery — was actually a blessing in disguise, he added, “because I had to really think about all the things that made me great as a fighter. And kind of get back to that.”

With two wins under his belt, split by the year-long layoff, the question now becomes whether Swanson is ready for a run at the UFC’s featherweight title. He has always seemed to be on the cusp of greatness, after all. Stunning performances, but he’s never had his shot at gold.

“It’s not really a concern of mine,” Swanson said, dismissing the title talk. “If they ever want to give me a title fight, I’ll take it. But I’m not gonna try to climb that ladder, and I’ll just I fight whoever they tell me. Whoever they think is a good match-up.” That’s how Cub Swanson has always done it, he explained. “They literally used to say, ‘Hey, this guy’s a stud. We want you to fight them. There’s a lot of hype we want. We want to see you fight this guy.’ Okay. That’s how I’ve always done it. I think there’s a lot of stress on trying to vie for the title. I just like to go in there and put on performances for the fans, and get bonuses and do things like that.”

Watch the full UFC 256 post-fight press conference with Cub Swanson above.