MMA is a tricky business to grow old in. Fighters start young with dreams of wearing the title belt around their waist, or at the very least fighting for it. Few ever make it that far, or even to a level where such a goal might seem possible. Swick came close. A title eliminator against Dan Hardy back in 2009 on the back of a four fight winning streak was his brush with greatness, his "what could have been" fight. Swick lost, and it started a long period of uneven performances and changing goals. Known for his quick finishing instincts in the cage, Swick became an instrumental part of one of MMA's biggest camps outside of it. Founder and CEO behind the development of AKA Thailand, Swick has spent the last half decade working to build a new branch of his gym in Phuket.
In that same time as Swick has been building AKA Thailand, he's battled knee injuries, putting weight back on after his misdiagnosed esophageal spasm (a condition that prompted his initial move to 170 lbs), and the first run of back-to-back losses in his career (which scuttled that potential title run). Finally in 2015, Swick came back from a two-and-a-half-year layoff to see if he could put together one more string of strong performances in the UFC. He didn't look like he took much damage against Alex Garcia at UFC 189, but the loss still seems to have answered a lot of questions for the veteran who started his career way back in 1998.
Swick made his retirement public in a recent statement on Facebook:
"July 11th 2015 at UFC 189 was officially my final fight. I was healthy and injury free for the first time in 8 years but still couldn't put my game together. There comes a time when every fighter realizes he is older and not what he use to be and I want to acknowledge this and stay true and honest to what I have always said, that I will leave when I know I am done. It's a hard thing to do considering everyone wants to go out on top, unfortunately when your actually on top, you never wanna go out.
It's unfair to the UFC, the fans and to my family and friends for me to keep chasing this career while giving performances that I am not proud of.
I remember sitting in class during high school('98) watching UFC's with the football team during off season and telling them I will be there one day. Now at 36 years old, I have been contracted with the UFC going on 11 years and it has completely changed my life. I am very proud to have fought and been a part of this organization for so long.
Though I am retiring from fighting, I will stay a big part of this sport as I continue to build fighters and grow my dream gym AKA Thailand. This gym is a massive project that has taken us 5 years to put together and once we are done, it will be the largest and most unique fight gym in the world. I am so proud to have such a great team of people behind it and I will now give my full effort towards its progress and the business surrounding it.
I want to thank everyone out there who has helped me over the years... My family and friends, Javier Mendez/Team AKA/AKA Thailand and all the coaches and fighters that have been a part of them, the UFC, all my sponsors, and finally the wonderful fans that have made this sport so great! It is because of all of you, that I was allowed to live my dream and that I will now be able to continue living it after my fighting career.
I also want to thank the haters and negative people who have entered my life from time to time. The fire that you guys created inside me is what has maybe helped me the most in my attempts to prove you wrong and succeed through your doubts. Thanks for being that fuel when I was running low on gas.
Thanks for all the support and I love you all!
Swick was a great action fighter, a violent finisher, and a hell of a lot of fun to watch in his prime. For old time's sake, watch a very young Swick put a hurting on Butch Bacon (seriously) at Frank Shamrock's ShootBox 1, complete with commentary from Jeff Blatnick and Don Frye.