Mike Swick returned to fight in the UFC in August after more than two years on the sidelines. He'd battled knee injuries, elbow injuries and esophageal spasm that made it difficult just to sleep at night.
It was a triumphant return, to be sure – a dramatic and powerful knockout of DaMarques Johnson at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
It announced his comeback in a dramatic manner. With Swick, though, nothing is simple.
And just weeks after he'd come back from injury, Swick was back undergoing surgery on his left knee and his right elbow.
This time around, fortunately, there was no lengthy rehabilitation process or prolonged period of inactivity. He'll open the Fox broadcast on Saturday when he meets Matt Brown in a welterweight bout at Key Arena in Seattle on the UFC on Fox 5 card.
It's a fight that figures to be a slugfest and which already has UFC president Dana White salivating.
"I think that's an unbelievable fight," White said.
So, too, do Swick and Brown. But just to be back, and to get into something of a rhythm, is a major win for Swick.
Though he knew he needed to fix what ailed him, the last thing he wanted was another protracted absence from the sport.
"Finally, finally, finally, I'm able to do the things I need to do to get ready to fight and to fight without worry about my body," Swick said. "It's an amazing feeling, to be honest with you."
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Despite the powerful knockout, he wasn't thrilled with his overall performance against Johnson. After being sidelined for 910 days, it would have been a bit much to expect Swick at the peak of his game.
He knew he was capable of much more, though, but his body was betraying him yet again. After his August 2011 surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, he hadn't been able to fully extend the knee.
He couldn't flex his quad and thus when he was on his back, he wasn't able to power Johnson off him from the butterfly guard.
"The ACL and everything healed up well, but I never got full extension," Swick said. "There was a lot of scar tissue built up and so I basically had no quad for the last camp. I couldn't flex my quad; I didn't have a quad. So after the [Johnson] fight, they went in and cleaned up that scar tissue and basically freed up all that space so I could get that extension again.
"Now I've got my quad back and I'm able to do full flexibility and all the motions I need. Now, I can do a lot more than I could. ... Why I was frustrated in that fight was because my butterfly guard, lifting up with that leg is what I couldn't do. If I have someone on top of me, my ground game is a lot of butterfly and sweeps and stuff like that, and I didn't have the strength to lift anyone up with that leg."
He took care of that and an elbow injury he said "just needed to be cleaned out." He wasn't expecting to fight again in December, but leaped at the chance.
It wasn't simply because he knew a fight with Brown could be epic, considering how well their styles match, that he was eager to return. Coming back would be a sign that he's back in the rotation – a regular UFC fighter and not one who makes a guest appearance every couple of years.
It's been a long and frustrating road, and he hopes that luck will finally be on his side and his body won't betray him.
"This is a great way for me to end the year with another fight on Fox, to get that exposure again," he said. "I truly believe 2013 is going to be the best year of my career. After what I've been through, I take nothing for granted, not even the smallest things. To be able to come back like I have, I just couldn't be more thankful."
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