Mike Swick is always one of those guys that you think deserves a title shot, but there seems to be always someone ahead of him. Whether it was Yushin Okami, or now Thiago Alves, Swick's continued to be in the mix no matter where he fights.
I recently talked to Swick to get his thoughts on UFC 98, where he is in regards to the Chris Leben unresolved situation, and his thoughts on a future title shot. Hope you enjoy!
Nick: First things first, I’m sure all your fans out there are wondering how training is going for you. How has your camp gone, and have you changed anything up since your last fight?
Swick: Training camp’s going great. I’ve been training for three months so that’s been my longest camp to date. Everything’s going smooth, I feel like I’m the best I’ve ever been, so I think it’s going to be one of my greatest performances coming up on June 13th.
Nick: Now this will be your fourth fight at welterweight, a weight class you’re obviously very comfortable at. You face a very game opponent in Ben Saunders who has yet to officially lose a fight in Mixed Martial Arts. How do you go about giving Saunders his first loss?
Swick: Well, I take it like any other fight. I’m not looking at his record, I’m just looking at, you know, him stylistically and how to beat him. I mean he’s got a good record, but he has been beat, you know, in an MMA fight and how he got beat, and we’re looking at weaknesses and seeing how we can exploit those.
Nick: I was wondering what your thoughts were on the recent UFC 98 event. What did you think about the Evans/Machida fight, and do you look at the fight as more of a fan, or fighter?
Swick: Well I thought it was a great fight. Machida’s like a ninja. I mean he’s very methodical and he’s got great reflexes, so, I mean it was just a very good strategy and he went in at the right times, and he went in when he was open and he made sure when he did go in he landed those big shots, and he doesn’t stop when he starts.
He doesn’t stop until he puts work in, and then he backs out. A lot of times, fighters get momentum and they’ll go forward but then they’ll give up in the middle of it and back away, and Machida doesn’t.
He comes forward and keeps landing what he can till it doesn’t work and then backs away and starts over again. And it’s a great strategy, great gameplan and it worked beautifully.
Nick: Did you look at that fight as a fighter, and break it down mentally as it happened, or did you approach it like a total fan, just observing?
Swick: Well you always look at things [like a fighter] because you’re a fighter and you know a little bit more than most fans, you know, especially when you fight in the UFC, what situations are, and what it’s like in there, and stuff like that. I’m a big fan of the sport, and I was just enjoying that fight.
Nick: Since you’ve been on The Ultimate Fighter, you’ve made your desire to fight Chris Leben once again very well known. As I understand, you were very close to securing a fight with Leben at UFN 11, before you dropped to a different weight class. Is that a fight you still want to happen?
Swick: Yeah, we tried to make it happen for a fight night and they turned it down, so, it hasn’t been talked about since then. I’m just trying to move up the rankings at Welterweight and focus on my career right now. There’s no part of Chris Leben that affects my career right now so, it’s not really a big worry.
Nick: Is that a fight that he turned down, or was it his management that turned it down? Do you know?
Swick: Well, his camp turned it down. I don’t know who specifically, but, his camp was brought a main event from the UFC on a fight night and they said no at any weight class.
Nick: Do you take that as disrespect, or was that something you just move on with?
Swick: At the time it was, I mean I wanted to fight at a main event and I had a chance to regain one of my losses. I was very excited to get the shot, and when he gave up on it, I was just like, there’s nothing I need from him anymore.
I mean, he beat me like four or five years ago or something, and if he wants to keep that, then he can keep that. I’m going to go ahead and perform and make a name for myself and fight the best fighters in the sport. I mean, I don’t even care anymore.
I’m tired of playing by his rules and his terms and all that, and he didn’t want the fight, so he lost it, and he can go on with his own career. It’s not like he’s holding me back now.
Nick: Now I recently visited your blog, and found a very touching story about an injured serviceman who had a bad arm injury and was delighted to have received a hat from you on your trip. Can you put into words the feelings you experienced seeing something so great?
Swick: Oh it’s a great feeling and that’s why I created that clothing line. It’s good to give back and help soldiers out.
They go through a pretty tough ride and they don’t get a lot of support from people, and it’s not their fault we’re at war and it’s not their fault that they have to go to Iraq and fight and shoot people and get shot themselves.
They’re looking for education and to better themselves and they go to the military and get stuck in war and it’s sad because America doesn’t give them the respect they should, and so I created Combat Life clothing to give back a little bit and boxes are going to Iraq and Afghanistan and I went to Fort Bragg and passed shirts and hats out, just got back from Ramstein passed the shirts out and caps went to the hospital there.
It’s really cool giving back and the soldiers, they appreciate, and the servicemen, they appreciate everything. I mean you give them a shirt and a hat and they think it’s the world, so it means so much to them and it’s great that I can do that for them and put a smile on their face and cheer them up a little bit since their in the hospital.
Nick: Revisiting your blog for a moment, I also see how pumped you were over your new UFC Action Figure, and also how down you were when your good friend Jon Fitch broke your arm completely off! But how cool is it to have an action figure so close to your actual likeness?
Swick: It’s really cool. I’m still getting used to having a game, so that’s incredible for me and then, more and more, within the same week I find out I have a figurine I’m holding in my hands.
That’s pretty cool, and the funny thing is that both of them, the game and the action figure look identical and I don’t know if I can have that unique look or whatever. I mean they really captured it perfect, so it’s pretty fun man.
Nick: Now how active were you in putting your cooperation and physically your face into the video game, especially after the whole incident with Dana?
Swick: Well, with the game and whatever I’m always onboard with the UFC and whatever they need so there was never a conflict with my team or my management or teammates or the UFC or anything.
They just sent the stuff over and asked if I wanted to be involved and I said yes, sent more and I said yes, and then Fitch’s contract was the thing and that’s when the whole thing blew up. It had nothing to do with us. I mean we were onboard the entire time just like other fighters
Nick: I know that you are a huge poker fan, and seem to be quite good at it too! If you weren’t fighting, would you make playing poker your full time job?
Swick: Well, you know I really like to play, but I don’t know if I’d make it my full-time job. I definitely like playing, and it’s great. I love playing, and I try to play in tournaments like the World Series [of poker].
I’ll be traveling to Vegas after this fight, but I don’t know if I could stay at a poker table all day long. I mean, I’m too active for that, but I know I could do it as a secondary job for sure.
Nick: I also know you’re very focused on your upcoming fight with Ben Saunders, and I know you don’t like to make predictions, but all the Swick-a-fans out there want to know, when is Mike Swick going to get a shot at the title, and if not the title, at least a shot at the No. 1 contendership.
What is your outlook on the future in regards to an eventual title shot?
Swick: My goal is to go out and put on the best performance of my career and I’m looking to go out there and show everyone a big fight. This will be my 10th UFC fight.
If I win this fight it’ll be nine wins against one loss, so it’s a pretty good record for the UFC and I’m looking to go out there and have an explosive fight that’ll make people talk.
Nick: There’s a fight coming up at UFC 100 between Thiago Alves and Georges St. Pierre. Can you just make a comment about that, and what do you think will happen?
Swick: That’s going to be a good fight. Both fighters have a chance to win it. I would say GSP is the favorite, and he always lands the big strikes, so I would definitely say that he is the favorite.
Nick: Who would you prefer to fight, if you had your choice?
Swick: Oh man, either one. I would love to get a fight with either one. Preferably the one with the belt.
Nick: Fans might be a little curious, so I’ll ask it even if it sounds a little obvious. Why did you ultimately make the change to 170? You seemed pretty comfortable at 185, but what was the key factor in making the change?
Swick: I walk around at like 180 lbs. So, I’ve been fighting out of my weight class my whole career. So I finally decided to cut weight and fight down to my size instead of fighting at 185.
It’s just been an ongoing thing. I’ve been wanting to cut since the Riggs fight, but I was winning fights and I was moving up the chain and it didn’t stop until I lost and had a reason to switch weight classes.
You know, I beat David Loiseau which set me up for a title shot. I had one more fight till I got that, with Yushin Okami, the current number one contender, and I fought him and lost a decision so it was a good time to go ahead and drop and that’s what I did.
Nick: Speaking of that fight, did you think that you won the fight? Was it clearer than people thought?
Swick: I definitely think I gave him the toughest fight he’s had in the UFC. I almost knocked him out in the second round, and I think he got saved by the bell, and it came down to the third round, and he got the takedown, and I just couldn’t get him off of me in time and that’s about it. Considering size advantage, and who’s stronger you know.
It wasn’t the worst loss in the world, and at the end of the fight I was on top of him punching him in the face, and he had pretty much nothing left, but it was a little too late.
Was on my back a little too long there in that third round and I ended up losing so I definitely lost, and there’s no doubt about that but at the end of the fight I was on top punching him so yeah.
Given the opportunity I’d love to fight him at 170. If I can get the belt, then trying to work on a rematch, but right now my focus is on trying to get the belt. I want to try to get, of course, the belt, and I’m trying as hard as I can.
I think winning the championship is the greatest thing in the world, and it’s the ultimate goal, and after that then I would like to clear up my record and avenge losses.
Nick: If you could step out of your shoes and play matchmaker with Dana White or Joe Silva, how many fights would you say you are away from a title shot?
Swick: I mean it all depends on your performance. I think if I knockout Ben Saunders and I dominate the fight then I should be next in line for a title fight. Like I said, I would be 9-1 in the UFC, with quite a few first-round finishes, and I would think that should warrant a shot.
I know a lot of guys got a title shot with less than that (chuckle) so I would hope that a real dominant win in this fight would give me a title shot but I mean I can’t predict that.
I mean, a fight’s a fight. I want to just get a big fight and I train real hard, and I put a lot into this and if I go out there and it pays off and I do really well then I’ll be rewarded with a big fight next you know? This is the second fight in a row that I’ve taken that nothing is really gained by winning you know?
I’m fighting a guy that is a tough guy, a very tough opponent but I have everything to lose and nothing to gain. This will be the second time in a row that I’ve done that. I want to be on the other end you know? I want to warrant myself a fight with someone where I have something to gain.
Nick: Mike, if you had to pick one fighter in any weight class to fight in the UFC, other than Chris Leben of course, who would it be and why?
Swick: Georges St. Pierre because he a champ and he’s one of the best fighters in the world. I’m in the sport to fight the best and try to be the best. It’s not about getting an easy win or anything. I’ve always said I wanted to face the best fighters.
Nick: Who would you say you least would like to fight and why?
Swick: (Chuckle) I don’t know. (Chuckle) I guess the opposite of GSP. The guy with the least wins is not the best fighter, and I want to fight the best fighters, so I guess the worst fighters are the ones I’d least like to fight.
Nick: Could you see yourself ever moving back up to 185 and fighting a guy like Anderson Silva, or Rich Franklin, or a Wanderlei Silva once he moves down?
Swick: That’s up to Dana White, but I can’t at this time. I’m smaller than I was at Middleweight, and I’m walking around at 180 at last check, and these guys walk around at 200 lbs.
If I could gain the weight, and figure out a way to gain 20 lbs. I’d love to. I loved that division and I would love to be a lot bigger and fight in that division.
I’m never going to be cutting 15-20 lbs. to make weight. I’m not going to be one of those guys. You see guys try to cut 25 lbs. and I just don’t understand it. To fight in a different weight class? I mean if I was cutting 25 lbs., I would just fight in a bigger weight class.
I don’t see why you would want to kill yourself just to fight smaller guys. For this fight, I’m going to have to cut like six or seven lbs. That’s nothing.
Nick: Well Mike, I really want to thank you for taking time out of your hectic schedule to talk to me. Is there anything you want to say to your fans out there?
Swick: Yeah, thanks for all your support. My brand new website of mikeswick.com got my links to my YouTube, my Myspace and my Twitter page, so check it out.
Nick: Well, it was a blast talking to you. We’ll have to do it again sometime soon. Thank you so much Mike.
Swick: Awesome. Thanks.