In one of the more relevant battles on the UFC 127 main card, grappling whiz George Sotiropoulos (14-2, 6-0 UFC) prepares to make a statement in front of a crowd full of countrymen as he battles Germany's Dennis Siver (17-7, 6-4 UFC) in lightweight action. Sotiropoulos could be in line for a shot at contention if he can add another victory to his current six-fight undefeated streak with the UFC. Standing in his way is a much improved striker in Siver, who has amassed a 5-1 record in his second stint with the promotion.
Sotiropoulos has steadily increased his level of competition over the last couple of years, moving up from opponents such as George Roop and Roman Mitichyan to UFC staples in Joe Lauzon and Joe Stevenson. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt will now need to dispatch of a surging Dennis Siver, who currently rides a two-fight win streak.
Since Siver's return to the UFC, he's defeated a bevy of prospects while climbing up the ladder of the UFC lightweight division. His lone loss came against The Ultimate Fighter season nine winner Ross Pearson, but the minor setback isn't something Siver hasn't experienced before. Bouncing back admirably from defeat, he not only defeated veteran Spencer Fisher in a solid performance at The Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale, but followed it by submitting Andre Winner at UFC 122 in front of a home crowd in Oberhausen, Germany.
Siver now has the opportunity to ascend to a status that he's never achieved in the sport. Losses to Gray Maynard and Melvin Guillard don't look as bad now that both fighters find themselves in the upper half of the division, but the loss to Pearson was one that set Siver back a few steps. He can now make up for lost ground with a victory on Saturday.
The intrigue in this contest stems from Siver's striking prowess versus Sotiropoulos' grappling wizardry. By all indications, Siver has the diversity and power in the stand-up game to give George problems, but George will give anyone in the division a headache on the ground. Siver isn't a grappling whiz kid on the ground by any stretch of the imagination. He did, however, make his career out of submitting opponents for the first two years of his professional career.
Despite his success early pulling off armbars and strong-arming limbs appendages, Siver will be at a disadvantage on the ground. Sotiropoulos' length is a major asset, and he uses it effectively to pass guard almost uncontested. For Siver to have a chance, his takedown defense will need to be impenetrable. That's a tough proposition, and I find myself believing Sotiropoulos wins rather quickly on the ground early. I'll take Sotiropoulos via submission, but I hope Siver gives him a run for his money and makes this a fight.