German fans may not have a lot of cheer about other than the fact that the UFC has decided to continue putting together shows in the country despite being banned from television, but lightweight striker Dennis Siver (16-7, 5-4 UFC) may be able to change that opinion. He'll battle The Ultimate Fighter season nine runner-up and Team Rough House fighter Andre Winner in the lone lightweight match-up on the UFC 122 main card on Saturday. Siver is by far the most successful mixed martial artist hailing from Germany, and he's amassed a 4-1 record in his last five fights with the promotion, defeating Spencer Fisher via unanimous decision in his last outing at The Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale in June.
Interestingly enough, Siver has transitioned from a predominant submission style to a much more fan-friendly style of powerful punching and dynamic kicking. In his first stint with the promotion back in 2007, Siver found himself on the losing end of battles with Jess Liaudin, Gray Maynard, and Melvin Guillard with his lone win coming against Naoyuki Kotani at UFC 75. After being released from the promotion, the UFC's push into international waters brought Siver back into the fold at UFC 93 against Nate Mohr.
Siver secured his spot as an attractive option for the promotion as he knocked out Mohr with a spinning back fist followed up with strikes, earning him a Knockout of the Nigtht honor. He'd return at UFC 99 in front of a German crowd in Cologne to submit Dale Hartt via rear naked choke in only 3:23, and followed that performance with a Knockout of the Night finish of Paul Kelly at UFC 105. A Fight of the Night effort at UFN 21 against The Ultimate Fighter season nine winner Ross Pearson gave him his first loss in his second stint with the promotion, but he bounced back admirably at The Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale with a win over Spencer Fisher.
Winner's road to the UFC was a bit more strenuous as he dropped a split decision to Bendy Casmir and drew Abdul Mohamed in appearances preceding his acceptance on The Ultimate Fighter reality series. He was able to dispatch of Gary Kelly, Santino Defranco, and Cameron Dollar during the exhibition bouts on the show, but lost in the finale convincingly to Ross Pearson.
Since that setback, Winner has shown improving striking skills that have been attributed to his training at Team Rough House. He knocked out Rolando Delgado at UFC 105, and edged out Rafaello Oliveira at UFN 21 using those honed skills, but his deficient defense and lacking cardio were exploited by Nik Lentz at UFC 118.
The stage is now set for a very appealing strikers' showdown as both Siver and Winner have a propensity to punch. Siver's knockout power in tandem with his unpredictability in the stand-up game should provide a stiff challenge for the 29-year-old Brit, but the technical edge should go to Winner. Defense is of the utmost importance in this fight, and Winner has a tendency to let his hands steadily descend to his hips. That could spell disaster here as Siver throws heavy power over the top.
Overall, I think Siver has the edge in this showdown, mainly due to the fact that Winner will likely try to strike with a much more diverse striker than he's used to seeing. Unpredictable strikers are tough to crack due to the unseen knockout blow that could come at any moment. The disadvantage, however, is that Siver is open to counters, and Winner has the speed to deliver those shots. But Siver hasn't shown a tendency to quit, and his chin can take the punishment.
While I do think Siver may slow down as this fight wears on, the damage he'll output on Winner's body will take its toll over the course of three rounds. Siver either catches Winner early and looks for a submission on the ground, or he edges Winner out via decision.