Rashad Evans: Cub Swanson Could Become No. 1 Contender With a Big Win

Rashad Evans gives his thoughts on the impact a win this weekend could have on Cub Swanson's career

When Cub Swanson walks into the Octagon this Saturday night in Fresno, Calif. he may not be competing for a title, but it could be the most important fight of his career.

See Swanson will fight this weekend without a safety net underneath him because he’s on the last bout of his current contract with the UFC and he’s willing to wager on himself before attempting to renegotiate a new deal with the promotion.

Add to that, Swanson could potentially earn a title shot with an impressive victory over the undefeated Brian Ortega this weekend, which would leapfrog him over Frankie Edgar, who is currently the most likely candidate to get a shot at champion Max Holloway next.

“It’s a big one. It’s definitely a big one,” UFC on FOX analyst Rashad Evans said about Swanson’s fight this weekend in an exclusive interview. “He’s been talking a lot about how he deserves to have that title shot and when you really go on the record and say that, you’ve got to go out there in your next fight and produce it. People are going to be looking for him to look like a title contender. He’s put the pressure on himself but I think that’s where he wants to be.

“He wants people to take notice. He wants people to see what he can do and why he should have a title shot.”

Swanson actually lobbied for the chance to face Holloway this past weekend when Edgar suffered a broken orbital bone that knocked him out of their fight at UFC 218 in Detroit.

The UFC ultimately opted for former champion Jose Aldo get a rematch instead and Evans is actually happy that Swanson didn’t get the shot that way because he’d prefer to see both fighters truly ready to face off against each other rather than being cobbled together in a short notice fight.

“In a way I’m glad he didn’t get the title shot because I want him to get the title shot and get it with a full camp so there’s no excuses. Not so say he would have made excuses but just so there’s no doubts,” Evans explained.

“Now with a big win over Brian Ortega, he let’s everybody know that he’s the real deal and he is the No. 1 contender.”

As far as the contract situation goes, Swanson is betting big on his performance to earn him the kind of money he believes he deserves after spending so many years ranked as a top 10 fighter in both the UFC and WEC.

Of course with those expectations also comes pressure because Swanson’s power in negotiations will either by increased with a win or potentially demeaned by a loss.

Evans knows it’s a calculated risk but he’s certain it’s something Swanson will be capable of handling.

“It definitely can play into the mind of a fighter. You want to go out on top. You want to have some negotiation power going into the contract table. You don’t want to sit there and negotiate for better pay or better opportunities off of a loss. That’s one thing that makes it that much harder and puts more pressure on Cub’s plate,” Evans said.

“As a veteran, somebody who’s been in some big fights and really seen his share of stress inside and outside the Octagon, I think Cub can handle it. But it’s a lot more pressure than Brian Ortega is fighting with.”

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.

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