Cub Swanson has finished his last three opponents. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Cub Swanson (18-5, 3-1 UFC) vs. Dustin Poirier (13-2, 5-1 UFC)
The Matchup: Dennis Siver was originally scheduled to meet Swanson in the UFC on Fuel TV 7 co-main event, but Poirier makes for an interesting replacement opponent.
“Diamond” burst upon the scene with an upset victory over Josh Grispi at UFC 125, and, after three more wins inside the Octagon, the Louisianan appeared to be on the fast track toward title contention. A submission defeat to Chan Sung Jung in the UFC on Fuel TV 3 headliner quieted that talk some, but Poirier has since rebounded, tapping out the durable Jonathan Brooks at “The Ultimate Fighter 16” Finale.
Swanson has been on a roll since falling to Ricardo Lamas in his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut, knocking out George Roop, Ross Pearson and Charles Oliveira in his next three bouts. The Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts product has showcased stellar boxing during his recent tear, and his overhand right and left hook are particularly dangerous.
Poirier has proven to be an aggressive and well-rounded competitor during his Zuffa tenure, but it will be interesting to see how he tightens up his game as he spends more time at American Top Team; the Brookins fight was his first with the respected camp. Poirier’s aggression was surpassed by Jung, who rocked him with flying knees and uppercuts and consistently threatened with submissions after winning scrambles on the mat. When things are going well for Poirier, the southpaw fighter finds a home for his straight left, landing combinations and mixing in kicks at various levels.
Swanson’s ever-improving boxing is backed by good speed and movement, and there are few in the division who can match his overall athleticism. The Palm Springs, Calif., native has been known to make the flashy spinning and high kicks part of his arsenal, as well. Swanson’s all-around technical skill and power should give him an advantage on the feet.
If Swanson begins to have his way in exchanges, Poirier needs to establish his wrestling. On the mat, Poirier is adept at using his ground-and-pound to create openings for submissions, and the Tim Credeur protégé will transition from one attempt to another in hopes of the finish. This approach is Poirier’s best chance to win because Swanson does not have especially stout takedown defense. However, Swanson does have an active guard and will create scrambles from his back, and, in recent bouts, he has shown an increased proficiency in returning to his feet after being taken down.
Both fighters are confident enough in their abilities that they have left themselves vulnerable in scrambles and transitions in their losses, and one key mistake could turn the tide of the bout.
The Pick: Expect a rapid pace wherever this fight might go, with neither fighter being afraid to take chances. It is hard to overlook Swanson’s striking skills these days, however, and he will hurt Poirier in round three and pounce to win via technical knockout or submission.
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