For George Sotiropulos, the past four months since his disappointing UFC 127 loss to Dennis Siver have been about finding a balance in his life between training and all of the extrinsic factors that prevented him from focusing fully on it. According to G-Sots, who has been noticeably absent from the limelight since the fight, he has set the wheels of change in motion to ensure that he isn’t being stretched too thin and that he continues to improve as a fighter and as a person.
We caught up with the UFC lightweight contender recently and spoke with him at length about the fight with Siver, the factors that he feels contributed to the first “real” loss on his record and the steps he’s taken to make sure he makes the best of the learning experience to ensure that he doesn’t make the same mistakes twice inside and outside of the Octagon.
Check out the extensive interview below.
It’s been a few months since we last spoke. What have you been up to since then?
Things are going really well. Training’s going well and I’m on track. I’m very focus. Weight’s not an issue. My weight’s actually really good. Everything’s going really well. I’ve progressed everything and everything’s in the last phase of my training and I couldn’t be happier.
Where have you been training?
I’ve been training here at home in Washington at Fisticuffs [Boxing and MMA] and [in Beaverton, Oregon] at Impact [Jiu-Jitsu] with my regular crew. I spent some time in LA with Eddie [Bravo] working on jiu-jitsu, but for the most part I’m doing everything out here. I work on my boxing at Fisticuffs with Leonard Gabriel and my jiu-jitsu at Impact.
It’s been a while since you last tasted defeat, which, coupled with the fact that you lost your last fight at home in Australia probably made it doubly hard to deal with. You’re not an excuse maker. You’re more so the type of guy that – win or lose – is back in the gym Monday morning working on things you could have done differently. How differently, perhaps as a result of maturity, did you deal with this lost than your last one five years ago?
That’s pretty much what I did. I definitely wasn’t happy about [the loss]. It was pretty disappointing, to say the least. I got back into the gym pretty much straightaway. I reviewed quite a bit of footage from the fight, made some notes and paid quite a bit of close attention to everything I did in the fight, in training and also on a personal level outside of training. I made a lot of adjustments to my life itself so I can focus more of my time on training and the fight and not be distracted by anything. I’ve come such a long way in my training and this sport that I knew I needed to tweak some things, so I made some subtle adjustments to ensure I improve and learn from the mistakes I made in my last fight.
The last time we spoke, you mentioned that one of the toughest things to get used to when you returned from living and training in Japan was that it was tough to find motivated training partners with the work ethic of the teammates you had there. Was that part of the adjustment you’re referring to or is it more a combination of factors you felt were lacking in your camp for the UFC 127 fight with Dennis Siver?
No, it was a combination of things. My training partners are actually pretty good. I’m surrounded with a dedicated bunch of guys. The guys I train with in boxing are really serious and they’re always there. The same with the wrestlers, jiu-jitsu and muay thai guys – they’re always there. I just think I was trying to do way too much outside of training that consumed way too much of my time. I was taking care of too much when I should have been resting or focusing on different aspects of training. Trying to manage myself just consumed way too much of my time. Now I’ve sort of delegated some stuff away to people around me and it’s allowed me to focus on doing what I need to do to be a better fighter.
It seems like some of the distractions were some of the media obligations you had for your last fight. I know it’s an important part of being a fighter and that the UFC urges that you guys are very hands on in social media and interacting with fans and the media, but when you’re as busy as you are it must become tough to balance with training and your everyday life since it takes a ton of time and energy and is very consuming. We haven’t heard much from you since February, so I figured you may have sequestered yourself away out of the limelight to focus your time on training. Is it safe to say that sometimes the PR duties are hindering to your training and ultimately to your performance?
That’s the truth. Unfortunately, it’s the reality. I did around thirty interviews [each] for my last three fights and that’s not including all of the interviews I did for the UFC [for their website, the countdown show and the pay-per-view broadcast], which are pretty comprehensive. I have a lot of Australian media commitments that I fulfill as well, so I spent a lot of time and energy setting up and doing interviews. This time around I haven’t had that problem because I’ve taken a step back. Because I’m not fighting on the pay-per-view, it means less media focus on me. All of these things add up. They just consume you and your time. I was always in a rush – in a frenzy – and I never had a spare minute. It got so out of hand that it made life very difficult.
I think that’s one of the things fans and the media don’t take into account when they analyze fighters, is that you’re people with your own lives and issues just like everyone else. You’re not supermen. It must be tough dealing with how fickle they can be. Some people crumple you up and throw you away after a loss and say things like “He was never that good anyway,” or “He was overrated.” Look at Dan Hardy. He was a fan favorite and a media darling until he lost a few fights in a row. Now everyone has turned on him and is writing him off as being a “has-been” or a “never-was.” Do you find that the reality is when you’re on top, everybody wants to talk to you and claims to be a fan and then you lose, you realize that it was all artificial?
Yep. That’s exactly how it is. It’s the truth. Everybody loves a winner. People, when they see you fall are like, “Yep, there it is.” Winning is great and I’m all about winning, but part of this business is if you can’t deal with a loss, you ain’t gonna make it. I was very disappointed about that last fight, but I’ve moved on. The emotions that I experienced have run their course and I’m moving on. That loss is not something that’s going to destroy my life. I look at the positive side and I look at the adjustments I have to make to better myself and rather than focus on the problem, I’ve created a solution. I’ve implemented some strategies and methods and that’s all I can do. I have everything put into action and I’m just working on it.