Cub Swanson vs. Jeremy Stephens: Keys to Victory for Each Fighter

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2014

September 22, 2012; Toronto, ON, CANADA; UFC fighter Cub Swanson kicks against UFC fighter Charles Oliveira (right) in the featherweight fight during UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

This Saturday will feature a dynamic showdown between featherweight standouts Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens.

Serving as the main event for UFC Fight Night 44, Swanson and Stephens have the potential to produce one of the most fast-paced matchups in the 145-pound division this year.

Both are on the doorstep of a title shot and have the striking skills to end the bout with a knockout.

Swanson has obviously done more within the weight class with five straight victories, but Stephens has been a wrecking ball since dropping down from lightweight.

He seems to be tailor-made for the division and should stay afloat among the best of the best, so you can see why their weekend clash has the potential to be ultracompetitive.

Here are each fighter's keys to victory:


Keys to victory for Swanson

Stay patient

Even before Stephens made his transition to featherweight, he was considered one of the heaviest hitters at lightweight.

Jul 6, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA;  Cub Swanson (red gloves) and Dennis Siver (blue gloves) during their Featherweight Bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Swanson won. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

That means his power could enable him to run through opponents even if they're more well-rounded and better equipped for divisional success.

So you can see why Swanson would want to avoid any unnecessary exchanges with "Lil' Heathen."

If the 30-year-old really wants to give himself the best opportunity to keep fresh and stay active, he'll need to maintain unwavering patience.

Once he can do that, Swanson will be able to pick his shots, angle in and out, mix it up on his feet and be the quicker fighter that he is.


Establish early success

A guy like Stephens needs to know early that he isn't going to run through you.

That's why Swanson must find early success in order to maintain round-by-round momentum.

It shouldn't be hard for him to do so, considering Stephens is the type of fighter who welcomes a war, but in order for Swanson to establish his offense early and maintain the patience we just talked about, he will have to find an immediate happy medium.

If not, Stephens could be dictating the pace from the first bell to the last.


Keys to victory for Stephens

Land early

Stephens is not the most versatile striker you're going to find.

Jan 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Darren Elkins (red gloves) fights Jeremy Stephens (blue gloves) during UFC on FOX 10 at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Swanson, however, almost is.

Knowing that, Stephens has to find early openings to land some of his best shots. Heck, he doesn't even have to land flush.

He just has to do enough to keep Swanson on his toes.

As a naturally unorthodox striker who incorporates kicks, knees, combinations and solid clinch work, Swanson is going to create problems for Stephens if he isn't tested early.

A good way to prevent Swanson from getting comfortable on his feet and finding his range is to make him keep his hands up and anticipate Stephens' attacks.


Stay on his feet

Stephens is a pretty strong dude but not the type of fighter who flourishes on the ground.

So while he may be able to regain his balance and get back to his feet, his best chances of winning rely on his striking.

Swanson, on the other hand, is more than capable of winning a fight in top position. He's a very solid grappler with great transitions and piercing ground-and-pound.

If Stephens finds too much success early, then Swanson could opt to take the fight to the mat.

Once he does, Stephens must be prepared to defend a takedown, secure underhooks, maintain his center of gravity and muscle Swanson back to his feet.


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