UFC 168: Dennis “The Menace” Siver (21-9, 10-6 UFC) vs. Manvel “The Anvil” Gamburyan (13-7, 4-5 UFC)

UFC 168 offers a stellar card from top to bottom. Obviously most of the attention is going to be on the main and co main events but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be excited about the other fights aw well. One match in particular that should offer some quality fisticuffs is this fight between 2 closely matched featherweight bulldozers with matching mean streaks to compliment their skills.

Dennis Siver debuted in the UFC losing as a welterweight in 2007, promptly cut to 155, was cut in 2008, came back in 2009, and dropped to 145 lbs. in 2012. Needless to say the guy has seen and done a lot in the MMA world and has been mostly successful every step of the way. Siver found his groove in 2010-11 winning 4 in a row before a Donald Cerrone head kick sent him packing to featherweight where he is 2-1.

-Siver is a beastly 145 lb. fighter now in a division where his height and reach will be less of an issue and he will be less likely to be picked apart by rangier guys in the kickboxing realm. He possesses fantastic static strength and balance and when he is on he is really quite devastating with his physicality in the cage.

-Coming from a Taekwondo background that was later blended with kickboxing competition, Siver makes very good use of his core skills. He uses kicks far better than most fighters out there of comparable size with a great front push kick, great lead leg switch kick, and of course his infamous spinning back kicks to the body. His heavy hands (both) round out the arsenal nicely.

-Siver possesses a good enough wrestling/grappling game in that it is good enough for him to let his strikes go without having to worry much about the takedown. His defense in this dept. in particular is very good and if he is to pull off a sub it is usually after he hurts foes with strikes first.

Despite coming from a Taekwondo base, Siver is rarely outwrestled. Where he struggles most is when the craftier strikers out there (Cub, Cerrone, Pearson) use speed and variation to outland him. This is due to the fact that Siver, while remarkably strong, is not the most explosive guy out there and speed can be effective against him, especially early.

Manny Gamburyan was a member of the extremely fun TUF season 5 where he quickly cemented his position as a top dog in the house. He had plenty of credibility even then due to his judo resume’ and his impressive camp (Karo, Gene LeBell, Gokor Chivichyan). A bad shoulder ruined his run on TUF and has reared its ugly head a few times since. He’s had an up n down ZUFFA run but has won his last 2 and is looking good.

-Like his cousin Karo Parysian, Manny was a national level judo talent here in the USA. Unlike Karo, Manny did pretty well at the world level as well and has the takedown and dominant top side grapplingto show for it. Because of this he is rarely in a bad spot and can pull off, and avoid, subs with relative ease.

-Manny has always been on the aggressive side when it comes to fighting, but nowadays it is not nearly as reckless. When he strikes the right balance between effective aggression and clever strategy he is VERY hard to beat. See his KO of the night win over former WEC champ Mike Thomas Brown for a great example of this.

-If you’re going to check out Manny’s Mike Brown fight you will obviously notice his monster right hand. He throws that thing from his hip and while it would probably make Freddy Roach cringe, it works wonderfully in MMA.

Manny’s had a few weaknesses throughout his career that have showed up a number of times. The shoulder for 1 is a constant worry and if he can’t trust it he can’t throw it and if he can’t throw it, there goes his best offense. He has been hurt with punches himself quite a few times as well, which is the reason why his aggression MUST be paired with strategy if he is to have a chance in this fight and beyond.

These 2 fighters are so similar in style and stature that it is really anyone’s fight. They are both well rounded, Manny a bit better grappling and Siver a bit better on the feet, but Siver has won more consistently against better opposition. Siver takes this one by clear but competitive UD.