December 14, 2016

UFC 206: No Real Losers In Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi

By Raphael Garcia

UFC 206 turned out to be a massive gift to mixed martial arts fans. When Daniel Cormier was forced off of the card with an injury, many expected this card to tank. But instead of being a complete detraction from the exciting events that the UFC has produced recent months, UFC 206 turned out to deliver in unexpected ways, and the biggest performance came between Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi.

Swanson vs. Choi was the classic fight in which a surging prospect would face his toughest test. Not only did that storyline deliver, but both Swanson and Choi come out of this fight with “the rub;” to steal a term from professional wrestling. While Choi’s record received its second “L”, “The Korean Superboy” walked out of the Octagon a budding star that fans cheered for in deafening fashion. 

Swanson, on the other hand, remained a stalwart in the featherweight division. He mentioned it during his post-fight interview, but he succeeded in reminding fans and pundits alike never to overlook him heading into a fight. Swanson has taken some tough defeats in recent memory, but this performance against Choi reminded everyone that Swanson is always a tough out within the 145-pound weight class.

An especially powerful moment came at the end of the bout. Swanson bluntly criticized his opponent for calling him out and Joe Rogan made a point to ask Choi why he did so. In a near perfect response, Choi answered through his translator that he and his team thought Swanson would be a great fight because they respect him as a fighter and a person. In a time when calling fighters out in a disrespectful fashion has become the norm in MMA, Choi received a resounding chorus of cheers before walking out of the Octagon.

It will be interesting to see what the UFC does with both men. Choi has the potential to become the star that the UFC has longed for within the Korean market. Although Chan Sung Jung is back, it doesn’t hurt to have another name to build upon within the division and the country. Swanson has fallen to both Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway but this fight reminded everyone that he’s still a threat in the featherweight division. Will he get a title shot or another big fight after this bout? Probably not at this time, but there’s still plenty of time to see where Swanson fits into the division, especially since Conor McGregor has gone on to other tasks at lightweight.

The fight between Doo Ho Choi and Cub Swanson brought the fans to their feet on Saturday night. Choi let the world know that he’s a fighter to watch at just 25 years of age. Swanson violently redeemed himself in a division that many thought passed him by. This was the type of fight that makes fan favorites out of both competitors, regardless of who took the official loss and win.

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