In Cub Swanson vs. Darren Elkins, fans will get to witness two very different approaches that almost always offer excitement and very possibly the fight of the night. While both men at this point in their careers have enjoyed only mixed success over the past few years, both keep proving that they deserve to be considered in the elite of the sport and will battle back from career adversity to constantly show it.
Cub Swanson nailed his name into the MMA history books breaking into contendership back in his WEC days, losing to Jose Aldo but refusing to give up his top 10 spot as he moved into the UFC and for years to come. While a string of losses between 2017 and 2019 finally knocked him from the top 10 list, he has since battled back going 2-1 since with impressive wins over Kron Gracie and Daniel Pineda. Through it all Swanson maintains his goal of “Beautiful Destruction” a term he coined, likening his style to violent artwork.
Darren Elkins on the other hand cares about little less than beauty. ‘The Damage’ is known for bringing his opponents into the deepest waters, showcasing his refusal to lose and coming back from tremendous adversity in the fight in order to claw his way to victory. He is currently riding a two-fight win streak, in which he lost early exchanges but proved himself capable of winning wars of attrition and stopping his opponents late.
Swanson vs. Elkins betting odds
- Swanson: -200
- Elkins: +160
Swanson vs. Elkins fight breakdown
Cub Swanson’s “beautiful destruction” style is based on a few key elements. He is primarily a striker, but with a black belt in jiu-jitsu under Regan Machado, his opponents can do anything but feel too safe on the ground. However, with 7 of his 12 losses coming by way of submission, particularly choke, Swanson’s neck should be considered a potential weakness for him.
Swanson is very light on his feet especially as he begins rounds. He likes to switch from orthodox to southpaw often because his forward movement includes long strides from both sides allowing him full range and power off both hands. He also often enters range starting with a low front leg kick, both front side kick and inside leg kick, and further he will look to stutter step off the kick attempt. Once his range is found, he will also leap forward with power lead hooks, with great speed and timing, but doesnt often do this early until the distance and timing is established with his kick-heavy start.
Swanson’s striking system is unpredictable and varies from fight to fight as it’s often based on his spontaneous creativity. Some of the combinations he favors more often include his left straight from southpaw, before cutting the right angle to exit. He also likes stretching left straight into the step through a long right hook from the same stance. If Swanson has his opponents rocked, he has a very tricky finishing sequence where he will load up on a couple straight rights but when he sees his opponents read it, step in the same way and throw the rear elbow to cut off the slipping angle. One of the most interesting things about Swanson’s stance is his low guard allows for his strikes to come upwards but he also loops them over the top to double the difficulty in reading where his strikes are coming from.
He’s largely an opportunistic grappler, he doesn’t often pursue the takedown but if it’s positionally given he will take it, dig his head low into the cheat and secure some control time until he can strike off the break, however his jiu-jitsu is sound and fundamental.
Elkins both readily chooses but is also forced to show a lot of heart in his fights. He is typically slower and a bit more sluggish in his technique which will also be the case Saturday night, however, while he may leave something to be desired technically, he is very good tactically.
Cardio is a particular strength of Elkins, and his affinity for going to the body emphasizes the usual endurance factor in the fight. Elkin’s best combination is to throw the right uppercut, fake the left straight and come up with the lead left kick to the body as his opponent raises his guard. It’s a combination that works particularly well for Elkins who naturally fights with a tilted posture to his right, this cocks the uppercut beforehand and balances out the lead kick as he moves forward. It’s interesting as an orthodox fighter just how much Elkins prefers the left kick over his power right. His left kick also comes off the right hand often and his right overhand off clinch breaks is a common go-to for ‘The Damage’.
Elkin’s best aspect of his grappling game is his submission defense, although he has been submitted before, he puts himself in positional danger often and manages to survive and gas his opponents. He often concerns himself with the upper body first both offensively and defensively rather than worrying too much about leg positioning which has led him to missing opportunities with hooks and potential back finishes. He also wrestles to standing from turtle position often taking shots to get up in the process. In this match-up in particular where his past opponents have more often held the clinch and tried to land hooks as Elkins rose, I think Swanson will look to hit big shots and kicks and break as he gets up which could be very dangerous should they end up there.
Swanson vs. Elkins prediction
This fight should likely be closer than the oddsmakers have decided, however, I think the sides are right. Swanson is technically better and he himself is a veteran of the sport and knows how to dictate range and pace and in part should be able to negate how much the war of attrition influences the outcome of this fight. In doing so, I think Swanson wins out most of the exchanges but finds difficulty in finding a finish.
Prediction: Cub Swanson to win via decision