In the end, Swanson (24-7) picked up the unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) on Saturday at UFC 206 inside the Air Canada Centre. But Choi (14-2) will only gain notoriety from the fight. Swanson lit up the South Korean with right hands throughout the 15 minutes and knocked him down multiple times, but Choi refused to go away.
It was a fight Choi, 25, had specifically asked for. He was 3-0 in the UFC coming into the bout, with three first-round finishes.
"I knew he deserved all the hype," Swanson said. "He just made the mistake of calling me out. It made me question myself. I trained really hard. I'm still a student of the game."
After a fan-friendly, active first round, the two 145-pounders took it up a notch in the middle frame. Swanson, 33, badly hurt Choi with a right hand to the chin and opened up with finishing blows as Choi walked his back to the fence.
Choi landed a heavy, counter right hand, though, that put Swanson on the defensive and nearly ended the fight. Referee Dan Miragliotta took a long look at Swanson as he covered up on the fence.
Swanson made a remarkable recovery, however, and later hit Choi with a cartwheel kick and spinning elbow that drew a huge crowd response.
The third round belonged to the veteran Swanson, as he continued to score right hands at will. According to Fightmetric, Swanson landed 122 total strikes, compared to Choi's 87.
Cerrone records head-kick knockout of Brown
The victory came after two hard-fought rounds in which Cerrone himself appeared close to being finished. Brown knocked Cerrone down with a right hand in the second round and hit him with heavy shots along the fence after he stood up. Cerrone managed to survive and find the finish in the following frame.
"It just came natural," Cerrone said of the finish. "It's a lot of fun. I love this s---, man. I knew he was going to come hard."
The win moves Cerrone into a tie with former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre on the all-time wins list, with 19. Only middleweight champion Michael Bisping has more. Cerrone already had an idea for his next fight date.
"How about [a fight] in Denver, Colorado [on Jan. 28]?" Cerrone asked.
Brown's best offense came off the right hand, but he was susceptible to Cerrone's jab and head kicks throughout. Cerrone cut him badly over the right eye in the second round, as he worked his infamous muay Thai. Brown had some success in the clinch with elbows but wasn't able to get into the position often. He also briefly threatened a triangle off his back in the first round.
Cerrone's remarkable run at 170 pounds continues. He went up a weight class after coming up short in a lightweight title bid last December and has gone 4-0 with four finishes. Brown has lost three in a row and five of his past six.
Gastelum stops Kennedy in Round 3
Kelvin Gastelum (13-2) looked sensational in a third-round TKO stoppage of Tim Kennedy (18-6). Referee John McCarthy called the middleweight bout at the 2:45 mark, after Kennedy went down from a left hand.
It was Gastelum's first middleweight fight since June 2015. He was scheduled to fight Donald Cerrone in a welterweight bout at UFC 205 last month but failed to make weight. UFC president Dana White has said Gastelum will never fight at 170 pounds again, but Gastelum disagrees.
"I felt great coming into this fight. I didn't cut any weight," Gastelum said. "It's my fault. I gain too much weight outside of camp. That's something I've gotten away with, but that's going to change from here on out ... I will show up at Dana's doorstep at 170 pounds if I have to."
Gastelum struggled with Kennedy's grappling at first, as he couldn't get the 37-year-old veteran off his back in the opening round. Kennedy couldn't take Gastelum down and control him, but he stayed cinched on his back while standing, scoring points with knees to the legs.
Once Gastelum had the space he wanted, however, it was a different fight. Kennedy's right eye swelled up from a left hand in the first round, and his knees buckled on several exchanges. Gastelum went to the body with kicks and the left hand as well.
The 25-year-old Gastelum has gone 2-0 in 2016. His other win came at 170 pounds against former champion Johny Hendricks at UFC 200.
Meek successful in UFC debut
Meek, who made waves earlier this year by knocking out the polarizing, former UFC veteran Rousimar Palhares in Italy, hurt Mein a couple times on the feet early before wrestling his way to victory in the later rounds. According to Fightmetric, he out-landed Mein in total strikes 91-39.
The first round was highly entertaining, as each welterweight had success on the feet. During one sequence, Mein appeared to hurt Meek with body shots and combinations along the fence, only to get tagged by a counter right hand. As Mein stumbled backward, Meek sprinted into a flying knee that just missed.
Meek's pressure and wrestling proved to be the difference. It was Mein's first fight since he made a surprising retirement announcement at the age of 25 last year. Meek extended his current win streak to four.