Ask Dana White when he plans on bringing the UFC to (insert city/country) and you’ll likely get the same answer every time: “we’re coming there soon.”
The UFC President is not shy about his mission to conquer the entire world by bringing the UFC to every city, country, and region where human beings could possibly inhabit.
From Anchorage to Zimbabwe and everything in between, if you take White’s word, expect nothing less than the UFC on your door step sometime in the near future.
But not every place is as welcoming as the UFC President would like. Take Germany for instance.
At UFC 99, the first event in the country, minors were banned from attending. Then, despite being featured on German television for almost a year, the country initiated a ban of UFC programing citing the sport’s “unacceptable violence”.
That hasn’t stopped the UFC from bringing live fights to its German fans, however. The promotion staged its second event in the country this past November with UFC 122, despite continued opposition.
And while the UFC continues to fight to gain sanction in places like New York, things in Germany may finally be looking up.
“To be honest, there is a higher acceptance of the sport (in Germany) nowadays, than there was at UFC 99,” UFC lightweight Dennis Siver told MMAFrenzy.com.
The former German kickboxing champion has begun to see the mixed martial arts scene in Germany grow steadily.
“Right now, there are a few gyms opening (and) the MMA family is growing. In the future, I hope the UFC (stages events) in Germany twice a year and that there are a lot more (German) MMA fans and supporters.”
While born of Russian nationality, Siver fights out of Mannheim, Germany and has been featured as one of the UFC’s few German-based stars at both UFC 99 and UFC 122. According to Siver, the long held perception that the sport is “unacceptably violent” has been the main reason for opposition.
“There should be a more detailed elucidation of how the rules are. (This) is not a brutal and violent sport. There are more injuries suffered from boxing than from MMA.”
Despite the opposition, UFC 122 drew over 8,000 fans for an event that featured a fairly lackluster card. And despite the quality of the rest of the fights, the loyal German fans were treated to an impressive performance by it’s hometown hero, as Siver earned his second win in a row with a first round submission victory over Andre Winner.
Siver was the recipient of the “Submission of the Night” award as well as enthusiastic support from the German crowd.
“I’m (always) concentrated on my opponent. But of course, it’s a better feeling to have the crowd behind you.”
Siver likely won’t experience any type of crowd support when he steps into the Octagon at UFC 127 on February 26 (February 27 in Australia). His opponent, George Sotiropoulos, will be the hometown hero this time around, fighting in front of his Aussie-faithful in Sydney, Australia.
Sotiropoulos is looking to earn his ninth win in a row and a lightweight title shot in the process. While all of that adds up to a near-perfect situation for the native of Geelong, Victoria, Australia, 32-year old Siver has different plans.
“I like being the underdog so they will be surprised even more when I show them a great fight. I’m a well rounded fighter with knock out power. I have fought so many times in different countries, so I’m kind of used to it. I want to show a great fight, and maybe, I can win some fans in Australia.”
In order to do that, Siver will need to be well aware of the submission and grappling credentials his opponent brings into the cage.
“We have focused a bit more on the ground game. George is a beast on the ground and one of the best BJJ guys in the division. But of course I have trained the other disciplines as well. ”
Sotiropoulos has shown excellent grappling and jiu-jitsu skills since entering the UFC in 2007 via The Ultimate Fighter.
Siver, alternatively, is known for being a kickboxer, first and foremost. If he had his way, this fight would most likely remain on the feet. And if it does, Siver believes he will be able to avoid Sotiropoulos’ ground attack.
“I mean he has to take me down first, to get his BJJ started. I try not to go to the ground, but if he takes me down, or I take him down, we will fight on the ground. I’m ready for his (jiu-jitsu).”
While Sotiropoulos will likely be in line for a title shot later in the year with a win over Siver, where does the former kickboxing champion think he stands within the bloated lightweight division with a win?
“It’s hard to say. If I can defeat George, I think there is one more fight I have to win to get a title shot after. This would be so great, to get the chance!”
Regardless of what happens at UFC 127, rematches against Melvin Guillard and Gray Maynard may prove enticing as well.
Siver suffered losses to both men during his first stint in the UFC. He was released following the loss to Guillard and was forced to head back to the independent circuit to earn a win before receiving another shot with the UFC.
“I’m ready to fight both of them again. Both are great fighters, but I’m improving all the time. I will fight anybody the UFC wants me to fight.”
For now Siver will look to earn his third win in a row at UFC 127. Rematches with Guillard and Maynard may linger in the future along with a title shot if he keeps racking up impressive wins.
But according to Siver, whats the most important thing that needs to occur in the future?
“Germany. The UFC has to return to Germany more often”.