UFC 206 was an event filled with controversy, fight changes and disdain in its pre-hype build, but when it all came down to it, the Ultimate Fighting Championship showed once again that all you need on the night is some good matchmaking, drama and just a little sprinkle of luck to make it a pay-per-view worth buying.
Leaving the arena last evening, the fans were buzzing about what they’d just witnessed in the Air Canada Centre. The main event was newsworthy for the fact that Max Holloway was crowned the new UFC featherweight champion and in impressive style, but the fight everyone wanted to talk about was the featherweight barn-burner between Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi.
This fight had all the ingredients to be something special and that it was.
Fight of the year?
Two intriguing characters, a compelling storyline and anticipation from fighters, fans, and media.
Everything was in place for a fight of the night candidate, but it wasn’t — it was a fight of the year candidate, probably even better than that.
The Toronto crowd was pumped all night long, but there was a different feel in the air the minute ‘The Korean Superboy’ walked out into the Air Canada Centre to the old-school superman theme.
The air was thick with anticipation which often in the fight game can lead to disappointment. Suffice to say, not a soul could’ve possibly left feeling disappointment after the fifteen minutes that followed.
A war to remember
It was a fight between the young gun apprentice Choi and the old master Swanson.
Many had in read it in the stars that it was to be the South Korean’s night, but Swanson forgot to read the script and put on one of the performances of his career to do more than enough to take the scorecards 30-27, 30-27, 29-28 when it was all said and done.
While the judges decision may have been elementary, the fight itself certainly wasn’t. It was a back and forth contest with so many momentum switches it would be impossible to even try and recall them all.
Both men - scratch that, warriors - put everything they had on the line and fought with the bravery that no normal men could possibly even imagine. The fight was predominantly fought on the feet, though on occasion both men look to take it to the mat or clinch against the cage to catch their breath and likely clear their heads.
Big shots were dished out by both men and there were times when both Choi and Swanson had to dig deep to hold on. This was really one of those fights that showcased why all these men and women who fight at the highest level are super athletes. It takes not just superhuman physical ability and skill as martial artist, but also a mental strength that very few in this life have.
‘Killer’ Cub teaches us all something
While I’m admirer of everything the ‘The Korean Superboy’ Choi is, Swanson taught me valuable lesson in life — no matter how bad things get, self-belief, persistence and fortitude are qualities that will see you through the toughest of times.
I remember looking in the eyes of Swanson back in July 2015 in Glasgow. He was man on the edge of calling it quits with the fight game and seemingly totally lost in his career.
Fast forward fourteen months and he’s now ranked fourth in the world, riding a three-fight win streak and closer than ever to getting himself a crack at the UFC featherweight title.
Rightfully so, Swanson said that he’d not be tempted back to the Octagon unless it was a big fight for big money. As a man with 31 professional fights under his belt (24-7), the American has earned exactly that.
Invaluable lessons for Choi
As for Choi, he’s only 25-years-old and has plenty of time to dust himself down, improves and go again. He had plenty of fans heading into the fight last evening and after that fight he will no doubt have even more.
Following the travelling circus of the UFC around the world can be exhausting sometimes, but witnessing fights like this one from cageside make it all worthwhile.
I was there the night that ‘Killer’ Cub and ‘The Korean Superboy’ went to war and blew the roof off the Air Canada Centre.
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