(This game of strip poker would have been a lot more fun if Swick had any desire at all to see you guys naked.)
Though Mike Swick’s injury proved to be a major bummer for a UFC 103 card that could have really used a number-one contender fight to improve its overall appeal, the withdrawal just might end up getting Swick the fight he wanted to begin with. Before the UFC matched him up against Martin Kampmann, Swick asked for Matt Hughes. When he didn’t get it, he gladly took the fight with Kampmann, which the UFC later said would determine who got the next shot at Now Swick says he could be ready to go again as soon as UFC 104, and, if you don’t mind, he’d like to make a suggestion about a possible opponent:
No next opponent has been offered, but yes I would love to fight Hughes. I will be ready by UFC 104 so just waiting for the UFC to call. … I have no set return yet. I just said I will be ready by UFC 104. So 104, 105, 106, 107… I will fight as soon as I get an opportunity!
The UFC didn’t listen to his pleas the first time, but this might actually work. Hughes just re-upped for a few more fights, and UFC 104 might become more of a must-see if Swick-Hughes bumps Gleison Tibau-Josh Neer to the dark portion of the card.
But here’s the problem: Swick-Hughes probably isn’t going to be a number one contender fight any more than Kampmann-Daley is. Even if Hughes beats Swick there’s really no reason to think anyone would be interested in seeing him take a third beatdown at the hands of GSP, and regardless of whether it’s Kampmann or Daley who wins at UFC 103, it’s hard to call either of them the second-best welterweight in the UFC.
That means you’re either setting up a de facto welterweight tournament to see who gets GSP next – and it’s at least possible that the unappealing and uncompetitive Hughes-Daley match-up could be the end result – or else the UFC could wait and see who’s left standing before they decide who gets the shot.
Regardless what they decide to do, this situation makes it clear that the UFC is facing a lack of viable challengers for GSP. They need someone in the ranks to step up with a couple dominant victories in order to make a title fight seem compelling. That’s possible if Swick could put away Hughes and then Kampmann, both in impressive fashion. If that’s the route the UFC decides to go, it’s going to mean some time off for GSP. Perhaps he should consider a movie role in the meantime.