By Schwan Humes
At UFC 206 we were given the immense honor and pleasure of seeing Doo Ho Choi and Cub Swanson engage in a brutal, heart racing, back and forth battle of will, intensity, and determination. Often in fights like this, Mike Goldberg will say, "There are no losers." I beg to differ; in fights like this, there are no winners. There is a price, which is what we as fans always forget; these guys aren't television characters, robots, or animated characters. Every fight they engage in exacts a cost, regardless of the duration, level of skill, or intensity; every fight has a price that must be paid. In this article I want to discuss the cost of doing business in the fight game, especially regarding fights like this.
In Part One we took a look at Cub Swanson, seasoned veteran and longtime MMA representative in the featherweight division; today we discuss the other half of this equation -- how the fight affected him that night, and will affect him moving forward.
Tyron Woodley, Karyn Bryant, Dana White, and social media will tell you no one lost this fight, both fighters’ stocks are up, and both have bright futures ahead of them; while I respect and understand that line of thought, I disagree and do so vehemently. Unlike Swanson, this fight wasn't a must for Choi. He wasn't in the midst of a career rebuild, he hadn’t lost to the two champions and the number one contender either; he was in the midst of a 3-0 start in the UFC, with three consecutive knockouts. Choi wasn’t stalled out or descending in the division; he was moving up, and regardless of who he fought, he would have been pushed, would have drawn eyes, and more than likely would have won. But he chose Swanson, and he paid a very dear price for it. In my opinion there aren't many pluses for Choi in this fight. We found out he is tough (something we already knew), found out he hits hard (something we already knew), and found out he was dynamic, strong, and explosive (again, something we already knew). This fight didn’t show us anything that we couldn't have figured out without seeing this fight happen; the only thing this fight could have done for Choi required him to win...which he did not do.
Cub Swanson needed this fight at UFC 206, Choi didn't; he took it anyway, and the price he is paying for it is his undefeated record in the UFC, and taking one of most extensive and thorough beatings in UFC history. This fight wasn’t a necessary evil, it was unnecessary, and this fight wasn't a calculated risk, it was greedy and stupid. This fight may have eliminated one of the best, most exciting, dynamic fighters in the division. This fight was a setback, one that may essentially keep Choi from ever really becoming the fighter he wanted to be and the UFC was banking on him becoming. It was a good fight, maybe even a great fight; but it’s a fight that did next to nothing for his long and short-term career, and may have in fact put a cap on how far he can go moving forward.