When I got this fight, Siver was the best opponent for me at the time," Swanson said. "It was either that or sit on the bench. They weren't too thrilled about the idea of (me fighting) Frankie Edgar because he needed to get a win. So they said Dennis Siver, and I said, 'Fine, but if Aldo, Pettis, Lamas or "Zombie" gets injured, I want to be bumped up. Those are my terms.' They laughed and said we'd cross that bridge when it comes. So I asked what's up, and they said nothing's changing.
"So all right – I need to just go out there and make a statement and prove that I deserve a title shot."
All things considered, Swanson apparently could be OK had Lamas gotten the title shot instead of Jung or him. After all, in Swanson's UFC debut at UFC on FOX 1 in November 2011, Lamas submitted him in the second round. Having that head-to-head win is big.
Swanson since has gone on a four-fight tear, knocking out George Roop, Ross Pearson and Charles Oliveira, the latter two of which earned him "Knockout of the Night" bonuses, and in February – when he was supposed to fight Siver before the Germany-based fighter pulled out with an injury – he took a unanimous decision from Dustin Poirier.
It's the quality of his wins compared to Lamas' four-fight streak – Matt Grice, Swanson, Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch – that Swanson thinks should have given him the edge over Lamas, not to mention Jung.
"I definitely think that it should've been me or Lamas getting that shot," he said. "Obviously, Lamas has that win over me. He's had impressive wins since then. But I honestly feel like I've fought the toughest guys. I feel like the 'Zombie' has not had tough opponents."
And hey, while we're at it? This whole business of Frankie Edgar, who has lost three straight, all title fights, and Oliveira being the co-main event at UFC 162 while Swanson and Siver open up the main card on pay-per-view? Swanson has some thoughts about that, too.
"I kind of am bummed about Frankie Edgar (vs. Oliveira) – two guys coming off losses – being a co-main event," Swanson said. "But it is what it is."
It may sound like Swanson is one big gripe-fest. And if so, it's coming from a place of past frustration over being overlooked and unappreciated. But the Californian believes that may be coming to a close.
The way to do it, of course, is to keep winning fights, which he's been doing. Like the rest of the featherweight division's top contenders, he's got his eye on the title Aldo holds. And to assume he'd like another chance at Aldo might be an understatement. The two fought in the WEC, and Aldo's eight-second flying-knee knockout win got him a shot at Mike Brown. He won the belt and has never looked back.
Swanson was up and down for a bit after that, but has come on strong since the loss to Lamas.
"I'm just stubborn," Swanson said. "I never lost sight of my goals. Yeah, it got really hard at times and I almost felt defeated at times. But my personality is to always move forward and always look on the bright side of things. Looking back now, I wouldn't have had it any other way than to have my run at this point in my career. It's just me to do things the hard way. I feel like this is meant to be."
Swanson may have been pining for a fight against Aldo, or even Edgar or Lamas. But Siver, of course, is no slouch. After winning seven of nine in the lightweight division in his second UFC stint, Siver dropped to 145 and went 2-0 in 2012.
A win over a fighter who has won six of seven and 10 of 12 certainly keeps Swanson's name right there in consideration, which is where he wants it and where he believes it's been for a while now.
Swanson is ranked No. 5 and Siver No. 8 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA featherweight rankings. Lamas is ranked No. 3, while Jung is No. 6.
"It's been a long time coming, and I finally am getting what I feel like I deserve," he said. "It'll come in time. I'm not too worried about it. I'm just going to keep fighting hard and doing what I do, and I know it's going to come. I'm not going to cry about it or anything. I know if I put on a good performance, it'll be hard to deny me a title shot very soon."