OTTAWA, Ont. – Mixed martial arts has entered an era where title shots and fame are earned more through the media than in the cage.
But UFC featherweight Cub Swanson refuses to betray his morals for a quick payday.
Swanson, a 15-year MMA veteran, has gained his devoted following through his entertaining fighting style and soft-spoken confidence.
Not everyone around the 35-year old sees his mentality as a catalyst for success in the sport, but he is content with the route he took to the upper echelon.
“People tell me all the time ‘Why don’t you talk more crap?’,” said Swanson to reporters during UFC media day here on Friday. “I wouldn’t sell my soul just for more money. I do well, I’m happy with who I am and where I’m at in my career–I wouldn’t do more [talking] to make more money.
“I think that just comes with being in the sport a long time, understanding who I am, where I’ve come from and what I’ve accomplished, that means more to me.”
Swanson’s humility stems from his troubled past when he spent time in juvenile hall for crimes he committed as a teenager. The Palm Springs, California native credits MMA for his rehabilitation.
“You have to be accountable for things and if you allow it to, this sport, it can make you a great human being,” said the father of three. “I really owe that to the sport.
“I think this sport gives you a lot of humbling lessons, being able to work hard and having structure.”
As his family continued to grow, Swanson learned that balancing domestic life and a fight career can be difficult, as evidenced by his 0-3 record since his daughter, Royal, was born.
“I just feel like I didn’t perform at my best. Looking at everything, I thought well maybe I should’ve been able to get away and focus a little more and that’s on me.”
For his upcoming fight against Shane Burgos on Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card at the Canadian Tire Centre, Swanson took the lessons he learned from his first child and took more time away from the octagon to bring balance to his life.
The bout will be his first since the birth of his twin boys, Saint and King.
“As a fighter, you want to be selfish and the best but having a kid is something new and exciting and it had my attention,” said the five-time “Fight of the Night” bonus winner. “It’s an amazing feeling. It gives me that little extra motivation cause I’ve been doing this 15 years.”
Once fight camp kicked off, the UFC veteran knew a sacrifice needed to be made in search of harmony between family and fighting, in order to halt his three-fight losing skid.
“I was able to get away a little bit this camp. It allowed me to be able to come home and study film and obsess over the fight instead of playing with my kids,” said Swanson. “Better balance and it’s a learning experience. You grow up and you have to adjust.”
Despite the ups and downs in his past, “Killer” is happy with the life he established and is ready to move forward with his new found source of motivation.
“It’s made things real, you know? Before, it was all on me. I’ve always been trying to build something, build a family, a foundation at home,” said the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. “Make enough money to buy a house, to have a family down the road and now it’s happening.
“It’s for them at this point.”