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Swanson clash will prove if Choi truly is 145’s next big thing

Korean Superboy
(YouTube Screenshot)

One of the UFC’s most electrifying prospects will be getting the biggest test of his Octagon tenure before the year is out as featherweight sensation Doo Ho Choi has drawn a potentially explosive matchup at UFC 206 against perennial contender Cub Swanson. “The Korean Superboy” has been granted his wish by matchmakers to test himself against a top-flight opponent after his respectful callout of the long-time UFC mainstay.

Both competitors will carry positive momentum into the Dec. 10 contest after posting victories their last time out and the clash will give us a clear indicator as to whether Choi is indeed the next big thing in the 145-pound ranks.

The No. 14-ranked Choi entered the promotion with a great deal of hype surrounding him and has more than lived up to the advance billing in showcasing his formidable striking prowess. He needed a mere 18-seconds to blast out Juan Puig in his UFC debut and has gone on to dispatch veterans Sam Sicilia and Thiago Tavares in impressive fashion in his last two appearances. The 25-year-old South Korean standout has required just 4:33 of fighting time to register those three victories and has generated a major buzz because of his tremendous knockout power. His quick rise up the ladder has been reminiscent of the exploits of current featherweight champion Conor McGregor in displaying true one-punch finishing ability. While Choi has plenty of work ahead of him in his quest to breakthrough as an international star he’s definitely on the right track.

Choi continues to improve upon his all-around skills and has already made his mark as an extremely fan-friendly performer. His straight right hand is one of the most lethal weapons in the division and he’s showcased a creative offensive attack that also includes the occasional flying knee. Choi is an imposing figure to contend with as he utilizes his height and reach to perfection in producing maximum power. He’s reeled off 13 consecutive victories including eight straight stoppages and has netted Performance of the Night bonuses in his last two appearances. He clearly relishes the spirit of competition with the smiling, joyful demeanor he carries when making the walk to the Octagon, however his opponents can certainly attest to Choi’s excellent killer instinct. He also competes in a very relaxed manner and shows great poise. Choi never got flustered when Tavares took him to the mat on a pair of occasions during their battle at the TUF 23 Finale and eventually blasted out the Brazilian veteran with a picture-perfect right hand and a couple of follow-up shots.

Choi has quickly vaulted into a No. 14 ranking and is one of the most talked-about rising contenders in the division along with wildly entertaining and flashy Mexican Yair Rodriguez. Choi clearly has a strong sense as to the types of fights that best suit his career path. Calling out someone of Swanson’s pedigree shows the high level of confidence that Choi currently possesses. His concussive and precise punches, lateral movement and tremendous finishing skills have seemingly prepared him for this type of competition upgrade. Choi has produced 12 of his 15 career wins by way of knockout and has never been finished in his career.

Swanson has been facing the best that the featherweight division has had to offer for several years now. He was on the cusp of a potential UFC title shot after putting together an impressive six-fight win streak that included four finishes. However that major run of success came to a screeching halt and his title hopes were dashed by a lopsided loss against Frankie Edgar at UFC Fight Night 57. It appeared as though Swanson was on a downward spiral after another submission setback against Max Holloway but the Jackson-Winkeljohn stalwart has bounced back from that adversity with victories over Hacran Dias and Tatsuya Kawajiri. There’s no doubt that this matchup against Choi will be a major stylistic change for Swanson after facing the rugged Japanese grinder in his last bout. The No. 5-ranked contender now gets the chance to test his own dangerous and diverse offensive arsenal against a fellow striker.

Swanson’s aggressive fighting style has generated seven post-fight performance awards during his tenures with the WEC and UFC and another victory would unquestionably punch his ticket to future major matchups within the divisional landscape. He’s produced 15 finishes by knockout or submission in his 23 triumphs and has proven to be quite durable. The battle-tested veteran has only been stopped once via strikes in his career by former UFC divisional kingpin Jose Aldo. That was an eight-second shocker back in 2009 when they were competing under the WEC banner. Swanson owns other notable victories against Jeremy Stephens, Dennis Siver, Dustin Poirier and Charles Oliveira. He’s also competed against the likes of former title challengers Ricardo Lamas and Chad Mendes during the course of his 30-fight career.

This is an outstanding addition to a lineup that is still being fleshed out for the Toronto event as it’s seemingly a can’t miss proposition when it comes to delivering a crowd-pleasing battle. If Choi should emerge victorious it would definitely be a major step on the road to  future UFC superstardom and would establish him as a serious featherweight title threat.

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