In a striking-centric and fan friendly affair, Diego Nunes will welcome burly kickboxer Dennis Siver to the featherweight division on Saturday's UFC on Fuel TV 2 card. The show is headlined by a light-heavyweight contest between hometown Swede Alexander Gustafsson taking on Brazilian Thiago Silva.
Diego "The Gun" Nunes (17-2) used to be a teammate of featherweight monarch Jose Aldo under Andre Pederneiras at Nova Uniao, but recently split with the camp and now trains in the states with Team Nogueira as a Black House rep. The consensus world rankings currently list Nunes as the #6 featherweight.
Nunes sprouted from the WEC, making his promotional and stateside debut at WEC 37 with a pristine 11-0 record, all of which were finished, mostly in the first frame. He scored decisions over Cole Province and Rafael Dias before being out-muscled by L.C. Davis for his first career defeat. Nunes closed off his WEC tour with decision wins over Raphael Assuncao (split) and Tyler Toner (unanimous) before transferring to the Octagon.
There, he began with a bang by eking out a split decision over former WEC champion Mike Brown at UFC 125. With his name now floating about in the top-contender discussion, Nunes drew perennial lightweight standout Kenny Florian in the latter's featherweight premiere at UFC 131, dropping a competitive decision but earning respect for the resilient performance. In his last, Nunes escaped a few precarious situations against Manny Gamburyan to notch a unanimous decision.
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Russian-German Dennis Siver (19-8) started his UFC stint flat, losing three of his first four bouts. Picking up a quick submission outside the Octagon, Siver proceeded to revivify his status with two separate sequences that unfolded with four consecutive wins followed by a loss.
In the first series, he defeated Nate Mohr (spinning back-kick TKO), Dale Hartt (sub), Paul Kelly (spinning back-kick TKO) and lost to Ross Pearson (decision); in the second, Siver bested Andre Winner (sub), George Sotiropoulos and Matt Wiman (both decisions) but was knocked silly and choked out by Donald Cerrone at UFC 137.
Siver had maneuvered his way up the lightweight ladder to float somewhere around the fringe of the top-ten, but he's now seated at #17 in the consensus world lightweight rankings and will be making his featherweight debut on Saturday.
Gifs and analysis in the full entry.
"The Gun" is a hard-nosed, blue-collar scrapper who always throws hard. He's a Thai-flavored kickboxing specialist with exceptional speed and power who balances his arsenal with decent wrestling and purple-belt BJJ skills. His finishing ratio consists of 6 submissions and decisions apiece with 5 TKOs.
Nunes tenderized Florian with cleaving low and high kicks and dropped him with the ferocious flurry to the right. This triple salvo of punches from Nunes exemplifies the term "committing to your punches."
He arced out low and mid-range kicks on Gamburyan at a frenzied pace throughout the first two rounds, often doubling them up as he does to the left. This was on the high end but fairly typical of Nunes' ultra-high output with strikes. He's shown a hefty beard thus far (his two losses are by decision) but slowed down after Gamburyan wobbled him with an overhand sledgehammer.
Like Siver, Nunes is so offensively geared that his defense often suffers.
Siver's MMA kickboxing is shaped from his background in Taekwondo. He's known for his devastating spinning back-kick, which he typically sails to the midsection, and can snap off high kicks from a standstill with absolutely no set-up or forewarning.
He hits like a truck and swivels short, beefy punches with massive torque from his waist. To the right, he digs in and slings a Russian hook over Winner's guard. Notice how Siver's elbow is flared out and almost equal in height to his shoulder on the strike's trajectory, which gives the punch a different type of angle and timing.
The slice to the left is a good reflection of Siver's striking tactics. He likes to counter strike, but not in the traditional sense -- instead of needling one or two shots through in a steady rhythm, Siver will patiently await an opening and then explode into a whirlwind of leather. He flings flashy kicks from outside but goes with all hands at close range, planting his feet and alternating a succession of hefty right and left hooks. While he's dropped many a foe with this habit, he's also been susceptible to counters and takedown attempts.
The cut to 45 is intriguing for Siver. While not the tallest guy, he was built like a Sherman Tank at lightweight and should be a leviathan if he can maintain his stamina. When applying my trusty formula for a fighter dropping weight, which is that they'll generally expect an boost in strength and size but struggle with the increased level of quickness, doesn't bode well for Siver unless he adds more wrestling to his strategy.
His bread and butter is chucking monster hooks in the pocket and plunging unorthodox kicks from the fringe; a gameplan in which speed is vital, and also happened to be his downfall in two key losses at lightweight (both Melvin Guillard and Cerrone beat him to the punch). Nunes is one of the fastest featherweight strikers and squeezes off short bursts at an insane rate. If he uses his speed and agility to stick and move, much like he did from outside against Florian, and doesn't stand in front of Siver, I like his chances to carve out a decision. If Siver slows down or stalls out because of the weight cut, I can see Nunes scoring a stoppage.
My Prediction: Diego Nunes by TKO.
All gifs via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com