Cub Swanson (19-5, 4-1 UFC) vs. Dennis Siver (21-8, 10-5 UFC)
Swanson and Siver are looking to establish themselves as the next contender for the UFC Featherweight Championship, and they have the chance to do so when they meet in the opening bout on pay-per-view. Swanson has come on strong as of late as he enters the fight riding a four-fight win streak. He last competed in February where he defeated Dustin Poirier at UFC On FUEL TV 7. Siver has scored two straight wins since making the move down to 145 pounds, and he is 6-1 over his last seven fights. Siver last fought in December, scoring a unanimous decision win over Nam Phan at UFC On FOX 5.
Fight Breakdown: This fight has the makings of being the “Fight Of The Night”. Swanson and Siver were slated to square off at UFC On FUEL TV 7 before Siver was forced out of the bout due to injury. It may have been a blessing for both men. Siver was going to come into that fight with only two months between fights, and the risk of being overtrained certainly would linger there, so he got time to recover and properly prepare. Swanson, meanwhile, turned in another excellent performance, scoring a hard-fought win over Poirier. Swanson has turned his career around following a 2-3 stretch that featured a big plague of injuries. To Swanson’s credit, his losses have come to Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas, who are the top three ranked fighters at 145 pounds.
Siver was on the cusp of title contention in the lightweight division after putting together a four-fight win streak before he ran into Donald Cerrone. Cerrone made quick work of Siver, and all of the improvements he had made at 155 pounds vanished with that one fight. Siver decided to make the move down to 145 pounds to try and turn his luck around, and it has paid off so far with two solid wins over Diego Nunes and Phan. His win over Phan may have been the most complete performance of his career, and he has leaped into the title picture. That picture is crowded with Lamas hanging around without a fight due to his fight with Chan Sung Jung being cancelled, and Anthony Pettis could always slide in there if Aldo remains the UFC Featherweight Champion following his fight with Jung, so Swanson and Siver are both looking to make a statement.
That statement may come in the form of a spectacular finish. Both men are aggressive on the feet. Siver uses an aggressive approach full of kickboxing, and he will use flashy spinning kick techniques to keep his opponents off balance. Swanson has a guns-blazing approach to his striking, and he has powerful hands. Siver does as well, and his kickboxing techniques may hold the key in the standup department. Siver was a big lightweight, and he is an even bigger featherweight. He is quite stocky and has excellent upper body strength. However, Swanson is faster and can be more technical with his hands, and his boxing has improved significantly in his recent outings. He combines power and accuracy, and he will be able to use his footwork to keep Siver from landing spinning kicks.
Siver could look to make the fight a battle in the clinch, where he will use his strength to land vicious knees and force Swanson to remain against the Octagon wall. Siver may mix in a takedown, and he does hold an underrated submission game, but Swanson has a very active guard and will look to create scrambles. Swanson has the better takedown average of the two fighters, but Siver’s strength in his upper body will likely help keep the fight from being put on the ground except when he wants it to. Both men have shown they can go the full distance without any issues, so the fight will come down to who can land more, and who can land bigger, which will play a factor in the judges’ eyes. Both are looking to make a statement for a title shot, and a knockout win would do that, but both are very tough to finish with the striking. It will be a battle, and it will probably be very fun. Swanson’s technical ability will win him the fight.
Why It Matters: Ricardo Lamas absolutely deserves the next title shot in the UFC’s featherweight division, but this fight will go a long way in determining who would be in line after him. And, with the way the UFC has worked in the past, an impressive win could get the winner a leapfrog over Lamas. Swanson would have a five-fight win streak if he wins, though his last loss came to Lamas, which may keep him behind. Siver would be at three straight, and he hasn’t fought Lamas, and if Anthony Pettis remains a possibility at 145 pounds, Siver and Lamas could make for an interesting top contenders’ fight. The winner has so much to gain, and the loser will be knocked right back down the ladder, but will keep their spot in the top ten rankings. It is a big fight for both Swanson and Siver.