Cub Swanson evidently took issue with being underestimated.
The Jackson-Wink MMA standout emerged victorious in an unforgettable firefight with South Korean prospect Doo Ho Choi at UFC 206 “Holloway vs. Pettis” on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Swanson entered the cage as an underdog -- BetDSI.com listed him at +205 -- and left it with a unanimous decision in tow.
The two featherweights exchanged 396 strikes, according to FightMetric data, and connected on 209 of them in what was immediately hailed as a possible “Fight of the Year.” Swanson landed 75 significant strikes to the head, many of them sweeping hooks that would have felled lesser men. Choi (-245) had the Palms Springs, California, native reeling on more than one occasion but simply could not keep pace with his overwhelming output. They were awarded $50,000 “Fight of the Night” bonuses for their efforts.
Meanwhile, “The Ultimate Fighter 17” winner Kelvin Gastelum sprang a mild upset of his own, as he dispatched the notoriously durable Tim Kennedy with third-round punches in their middleweight showcase. Kennedy (-125) had no answers for the Kings MMA rep’s quickness and found himself trapped on the feet with a superior striker.
Gastelum (+105) stung the 37-year-old with a jab early in Round 3, forced him to the fence and let the punches fly. A straight left put Kennedy on all fours and set the stage for the finish, as Gastelum swarmed with follow-up punches until referee John McCarthy had seen enough.
Choi and Kennedy were not the only favorites to fall. Nikita Krylov (-115) saw his five-fight winning streak grind to a halt, as he submitted to a Misha Cirkunov guillotine choke in the first round of their preliminary clash at 205 pounds. Cirkunov (-105) cracked the Ukrianian with a counter left hook, followed him to the canvas and bit down on the guillotine to force the tapout.
Elsewhere, flyweight Dustin Ortiz shined in his role as a modest underdog, picking up a split decision over Zach Makovsky (-128) on the undercard. Ortiz (+108) outstruck the former Bellator MMA and Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion -- he landed 109 total strikes to Makovsky’s 29 -- across three rounds, matched him in the takedown department and won the majority of the scrambles.
Three other fighters beat the odds at UFC 206, as Norwegian upstart Emil Weber Meek (+145) took a unanimous verdict from Jordan Mein (-170), the undefeated Viviane Pereira (-102) eked out a contentious split decision over Valerie Letourneau (-118) and the once-beaten Matthew Lopez (+115) captured a unanimous verdict against Mitch Gagnon (-135).