The UFC has excellent depth in its lightweight division. Denis Siver proved that tonight.
George Sotiropoulos, on the verge of locking up a shot at the UFC lightweight title, rolled the dice by taking a fight in his homeland against the Russian fighting out of Germany. Sotiropoulos, an excellent jiu-jitsu practitioner, found it impossible to get the thick 5-foot-6 Siver to the ground. Meanwhile, Siver threw nasty kicks and punches for 15 minutes, even flooring Sotiropoulos in the middle of the first on his way to unanimous decision victory, 30-28, 30-27 and 29-28, at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia.
"He was very strong," Sotiropoulos said. "He threw some heavy shots that landed, and I felt them.
Entering the fight, Siver (18-7) appeared to have so-so UFC record at 6-4, but he's improved massively since his early days with the promotion back in 2007. Tonight, was his crowning moment as he showed off solid takedown defense. In Siver's previous 10 fights, his opponents were 8-of-9 on takedown attempts. Sotiropoulos was 0-for-10. Siver has now won 7-of-8 overall.
"My plan was to continue fighting and take him down, but he defended it well. His defense was really good, and the leg was a little slippery at that point, so it was hard to get a good grip on it," said Sotiropoulos.
Sotiropoulos (14-3, 7-1 UFC) came into the fight without a loss in the UFC. With 2010 wins over Joe Stevenson, Joe Lauzon and Kurt Pellegrino, he stormed into the top five of the promotion's lightweight ranking. After the Aussie beat Lauzon in late November at UFC 123, he insisted on being placed on this card just 13 weeks later. Siver turned out to be an awful matchup.
Sotiropoulos was a minus-330 favorite.
- George Sotiropoulos