Lets get this out of the way : I really like Mike Swick. How can you not like someone with the nickname ‘Quick’? Yeah, he looks like he belongs in a boyband more than an Octagon, but the dude’s got skills to spare and speed for weeks. Coming into UFC69 I was looking forward to his match because I knew it was a precursor to bigger things – Mike’s been hovering around waiting for his crack at the Middleweight title, and another win or two would cement his shot.
You might have noticed I was pretty severe regarding his loss to Yushin Okami. There’s nothing that drives me crazier than a fighter I like losing a fight they shouldn’t lose. Swick had Okami’s number standing up, and was surviving on the ground. But after a brute force takedown by Okami late in the first round, all the wind went out of Swick’s sails. As he sat at his corner between rounds you could see defeat in his eyes. Even then, Swick threw together a few combinations that had Okami reeling, but he could not turn the match around.
There’s word that Swick is considering dropping down to welterweight. Typically a fighter drops down after getting run out of a division by the belt holders. Sherk couldn’t get past Hughes or St Pierre. Couture couldn’t get past Liddell. Riggs … well, Riggs couldn’t get past anyone. However, I wouldn’t take his loss to Yushin Okami to mean Swick can’t hang with the big boys at middleweight. And I’d go as far to say that the welterweight division is stacked much heavier than the middleweight divison. While size wise Swick might be more even, skill wise I think he’d be out of his league.
Swick’s size at 185 could actually be considered an asset. Most of the top middleweight fighters in the UFC cut hard to make weight. Being a fresh 185 pound fighter has it’s advantages. Swick’s rep as being ‘Quick’ stem from the fact that he’s a smaller, faster opponent than the rest of his divison. And finally, Swick has spent two years working his way up the ladder in the Middleweight division. While his popularity would mean he wouldn’t drop too far down the ladder when switching weightclasses, I can’t imagine he’ll be anywhere even near a title shot in 2007. The Welterweight division is simply too stacked.
The Middleweight division *needs* charismatic fighters like Swick. Past Franklin and Silva he’s the most popular guy they have. Contenders Mardquardt and Kampmann don’t have the personality of Swick and most of the other guys are still developing. If Mike Swick drops himself down to Welterweight he’ll be hard pressed to get any special consideration in the pack.
So there we have it … Mike, for God’s sake, don’t drop down to 170. Especially not because of your loss to Okami. In my opinion, the loss was more mental than physical and if you had gotten past that mental block against Okami and let your hands fly you would have come out on top. The middleweight division has been your home for years and you’ve carved a prominant place up in the top tier of it. Switching now could be the worst mistake of your career.