Cub Swanson: Max Holloway ‘played with Jose Aldo’s ego’ in UFC 218 title defense


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FRESNO, Calif. – Color Cub Swanson impressed by Max Holloway’s stoppage win over Jose Aldo in his featherweight title defense this past weekend at UFC 218.

Swanson (25-7 MMA, 10-3 UFC) has shared the cage with both men and currently stands as one of the top contenders to Holloway’s 145-pound belt. He looks to improve his argument for a crack at the gold when he meets Brian Ortega (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 123 headliner, which takes place at Save Mart Center in Fresno, Calif., and airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

Swanson never has lacked respect for either Holloway (19-3 MMA, 15-3 UFC) or Aldo (26-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC). He lost to both men by stoppage during their respective bouts, and while he fully believes the rematches would go differently, he said he admires how “Blessed” conquered the Brazilian not once, but twice.

“I thought it was a great performance,” Swanson told MMAjunkie. “I’ve always known (Holloway) as being tough and just having good cardio, but I’ll say I really underestimated how smart of a fighter he is. He went in there and just played with Aldo’s ego. I think that Aldo looked better than he has in the past, but he still had that one weakness, and Holloway just kind of poked at him, poked at him, poked him. Then when (Aldo) got frustrated he gassed himself out when he (went) for the kill. He took him out in the same round both fights, like clockwork. I’ve got to give him points for that.”

Swanson faced off with Aldo at WEC 41 in June 2009 and lost by flying-knee knockout in eight seconds. He’s pursued a rematch in the time since, but it’s never come together. Swanson said he would still like to fight “Scarface” again but not as much as he would like the chance at Holloway.

The belt in Holloway’s possession is what Swanson desires most. He suffered a third-round submission loss to the Hawaiian at UFC on FOX 15 in April 2015 and would happily enjoy a shot at redemption, along with a title fight.

“I would love to (rematch Aldo); it’s just the fact I would like to get a title fight first,” Swanson said. “It’s like my list of priorities. It’s a little lower than a title fight. What was frustrating when he called me out and said he wanted to fight me, he knew I was in a better position than him at the time. I’m thinking, ‘Man, if you would have beat Max we would be fighting, and I would be getting paid triple what I’m getting paid to fight you now.’ It just doesn’t seem as intriguing. Title fight is No. 1, because I’m trying to make the big money and get the big fight.”

Swanson believes he can get his elusive title fight with a strong performance at UFC Fight Night 123. He’s already riding a four-fight winning streak, and he believes pushing that to five could mean leapfrogging Frankie Edgar (22-5-1 MMA, 16-5-1 UFC), who appears to be the likely next contender to Holloway’s belt.

The situation gets even trickier, though, because UFC Fight Night 123 marks the final bout on Swanson’s UFC contract. There will be plenty to figure out win or lose, but assuming he wins and sticks around, he believes he’s done more than enough for the opportunity.

“I think people jump people all the time,” Swanson said. “It sucks what happened to Frankie, but he had the title fight. He had to pull out. In a sense, I’ve been in that situation before, and somebody else is going to step up. That’s the reason I had to fight Frankie the first time when I was promised a title fight, because they told me if I didn’t fight him that Conor (McGregor) was going to pass me up by beating Dennis Siver, which is a joke, but yes. They made me fight him for my fourth consecutive No. 1 contender fight. I think a win with Ortega, a real big win, would be huge. If they don’t want to give me the show, then whatever.”

For more on UFC Fight Night 123, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.


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