Heavy.com was able to chat with Welterweight contender Mike Swick as he prepares to face Paulo Thiago at UFC 109 on February 6. Among the topics discussed are the advantages to training with two of Thiago’s former opponents, why the short camp may benefit him, how badly he wants a rematch with Dan Hardy, and the greatness of Georges St. Pierre. All of this, the inside story on Swick’s training partners at AKA, and much more in our full interview.
Heavy.com: How is training going for your fight with Paulo Thiago?
Mike Swick: It’s going really good. Everything is going according to plan.
Heavy.com: So, what’s the plan?
Mike Swick: The plan is to win! I want to keep it on the feet. I want to strike. I want to get a knock out. He’s a wrestler and a jiu jitsu guy, so if the fight goes to the ground, I want to showcase the jiu jitsu and wrestling skills I’ve been working on for quite some time, and I think it’s a great opportunity against a high leveljiujitsuguy to showcase that. I haven’t fought a guy at this level as far asjiujitsuon the ground in the UFC.
Heavy.com: How much of a benefit has it been to be training with two guys who have fought Thiago before (Fitch,Koscheck)?
Mike Swick: It’s helped me a lot. My main training partner for this fight is Jon Fitch. Not only did he fight and beat [Thiago], but he fought him at his own game on the ground. He’s been able to share and go over a lot of things from the fight that you can’t really see on the tape: how positioning feels, transitions, his strength, how he moves, stuff like that. We’ve been working real hard on those points and we’re well prepared.
Heavy.com: How long has the training camp been for this fight?
Mike Swick: This was a five-week camp. I’m used to 10-12 week camps, but the opportunity came up and I definitely wanted to get back in there, so I took the fight and I’ve been able to get in shape. It’s been plenty of time.
Heavy.com: What weight are you at right now?
Mike Swick: [I’m] walking around at 185. I’m actually the biggest I’ve ever been at Welterweight.
Heavy.com: Will the weight be a concern with the shortened training camp?
Mike Swick: No no no. I think it’s going to be good, actually. It’s going to be good to be bigger and stronger in the fight. I think usually I get in shape in my fight camp, but my camp is so long that I just tear my body down and over-train and then I shrink up and I’m only about [174, 175] by the time the fight happens, so now I’m almost 10 pounds bigger than that. It’s going to be more of a cut than usual, but I think it’s good for my body to not be torn up as much having a shorter fight camp.
Heavy.com: How does massage therapy assist your training regimen?
Mike Swick: It let’s us train how we train. Otherwise, there would be no way. We would have to literally take days off here and there and not do anything because our bodies are so over-trained. It’s mostly because of our sparring. We spar really hard; it’s like a fight. We basically have three fights a week, that’s just the way we train. I’m going against guys like Fitch, Koscheck, and Shields, these guys are top level guys and we’re very competitive by nature and then we also have our egos on the line as well. No one wants to lose to anyone at our gym, so we always fight each other pretty hard. We’re talking knockouts at the gym, injury, everything.
Heavy.com: How many days a week are you training?
Mike Swick: We train six days a week. Saturday is on our own, kind of what we want to do. We’ll do conditioning stuff or something like that. Nothing too hard on Saturday, and then I take Sunday off. But Monday through Friday, we have [training] two or three times a day, and we definitely push it every day.
Heavy.com: You mentioned sparring with Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields. Is he training at AKA now?
Mike Swick: He comes in for sparring. He has his own camp, but he likes the sparring at our camp so he comes in and he’ll spar with me, [Josh Koscheck], [Jon] Fitch and get his workout, then work Tuesdays and Thursdays over at his camp.
Heavy.com: If you beat Paulo Thiago, do you feel you should be in line for the next title shot?
Mike Swick: The only fight that I can say that I want more than anything right now is Dan Hardy. That’s the fight I want more than anything. The sooner I can get that fight to happen, the happier I’ll be. Obviously [Hardy] is fighting for the title, so depending on how he does, if he wins or he loses, it could change a bunch of different variables, but a rematch with Dan Hardy is the number one priority in my career right now.
Heavy.com: In what way were you not yourself when you fought Dan Hardy?
Mike Swick: A lot of ways. This is a borderline where it gets into making excuses, and I don’t like making excuses. I’ll leave it at that. The bottom line is: I know I can perform better and I definitely want a rematch. No knock against [Hardy]. I think he’s a cool guy. It’s hard to swallow because I do feel, 100 percent, that I am the better fighter and it sucks to have to swallow this loss. If I felt that I got bested by a better fighter, that would be different. And you know, you can think whatever you want, looking at the fight, whether you want to believe I’m a better fighter or he’s a better fighter. I know how I’ve been through my whole career, through wins and losses and I kind of know how I feel about things, and I personally feel that I should have done better.I should have won that fight and I feel that I can win that fight the next time we fight, and that’s why I want that to happen as soon as possible.
Heavy.com: Do you feel that Dan Hardy deserves a title shot?
Mike Swick: You know, the thing is, I’ve been back and forth with this in different interviews and I’ve said so many times over and over again that he doesn’t, but it’s kind of disrespectful and discrediting a little bit by saying that. I look at the overall aspect of what you’ve done and I know I was 9-1 in the UFC before I had the opportunity to fight for contendership for a title shot. I have a teammate who’s 11-1 in the UFC [Jon Fitch], another teammate who’s doing really good who’s on the cusp of a title shot [Josh Koscheck] with 14 or 15 fights in the UFC, so it’s like, judging by the guys I train with and some of the top-tier fighters in the UFC in the Welterweight division, I don’t believe he’s put the time in to warrant a title shot. I know it’s ironic coming from someone who was on the cusp of having a title shot and got beaten by him, and I totally understand that I got beaten by him.
It’s kind of a hit or miss question. I feel that there’s a lot of people who have done a lot more that haven’t had a title shot and there’s a lot of people who’ve done a lot more who finally got a title shot, but that was the way it was set up. Me and [Hardy] were supposed to fight, and the winner was supposed to fight Georges St. Pierre, and he won, so he did what he was supposed to do and now he gets a title shot, so I can’t really complain about that.
He’s only finished one person in the UFC and two of his three decisions are split decisions. I just don’t think that those kind of performances warrant a title shot and I don’t think that just beating me on one night in England warrants that he’s the number one fighter at Welterweight next to Georges St. Pierre. I know that’s discrediting myself, but I just don’t believe that. I think if we fought February 6, it would be a different story even with the five-week fight camp. You can’t knock him, he’s done what he’s supposed to do. It’s no one’s fault more than mine.
Heavy.com: What do you think Dan Hardy’s chances are against Georges St. Pierre?
Mike Swick: Man, it’s tough. I don’t know, I’m not an odds guy. It’s not likely that he’s going to win this fight. If he does, it’s going to be amazing. The thing about it is, you’re talking about a guy who’s going out there on the hopes of a fluke. We’ve seen his last performance; I was in the cage with him. I’ve seen his performances before he fought me, and we’ve seen Georges St. Pierre’s performances, and he doesn’t pose a danger to Georges St. Pierre that we haven’t seen before. He’s a good striker, but he’s only finished one guy.
Georges St. Pierre’s take downs are incredible. He took down Thiago Alves, who is one of the hardest guys to take down in the UFC, and he took him down 10 times or something. If he gets Dan Hardy on the ground, we saw Marcus Davis dominate Dan Hardy on the ground. I just don’t see Dan Hardy’s ground [game] holding up. I think it’s going to be a pretty easy win for GSP.
Heavy.com: There’s been some talk lately that Georges St. Pierre is looking to move up to Middleweight. If you didn’t get a chance to fight him for the title, would you regret it, or would you be relieved?
Mike Swick: I definitely want to face Georges St. Pierre. He’s one of the greatest fighters in the world, and I’m not in the sport to have an easy road. I’m in the sport to have exciting, challenging fights. That’s why I’m excited about PauloThiago. He’s a very dangerous opponent who’s a world-class jiu jitsu guy. It’s always the danger element as well as the challenge and the reward, and I think Georges St. Pierre is the ultimate reward. When you look across the ring and see Georges St. Pierre, you know you made it. You know you’re one of the best fighters in the world. To beat him, you would be the best fighter in the world. That’s huge. I don’t think there’s any true competitor that would want to have a division without him in it right now. That’s why I fight: for the challenge, to fight the best fighters in the world and that’s [St. Pierre].
Heavy.com: If Georges St. Pierre did move up to Middleweight, would to be interested in moving back up to Middleweight to pursue that fight?
Mike Swick: I don’t think there’s any way that I can fight at Middleweight. I give up entirely too much weight. These guys, they’re walking [around] at 200 pounds and cutting down to 185 and getting back to 200 by the time the fight happens. With as good as these guys are, five, 10, 15 pounds can make all the difference in the world in a fight.
Heavy.com: Let’s talk about some of your training partners and their upcoming fights. First, Cain Velasquez v. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Mike Swick: I think Cain is the next Heavyweight champ. He’s an amazing fighter. He’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen at AKA. His work ethic, how hard he trains is just phenomenal. There’s nothing but good things for him, man.
Heavy.com: Jon Fitch v.Thiago Alves?
Mike Swick: [Fitch] is doing great. He’s started his fight camp and he’s been helping me get ready for this fight. He looks great. Strong as ever. Working so much on the ground…and his stand up is getting crazy. I think he poses a lot of danger for Thiago Alves.
Heavy.com: What about Josh Koscheck v. Paul Daley?
Mike Swick: I think Koscheck’s going to win. I’m just excited for all the pre-fight for that one. That’s going to be great. They couldn’t have picked two better personalities to clash. I’m just super excited to hear what they say about each other before the fight.
Heavy.com: Thanks for taking some time out from training to talk to us, Mike.
Mike Swick: Ok, cool. Thanks man, I appreciate it. I’d like to thank all of the fans for their support and please follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/officialswick. I’d like to thank all of the sponsors on my website,www.mikeswick.com. Sprawl, Oak Grove, an all of the other sponsors, I appreciate all of the support.