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Five Reasons Dennis Siver Is Fighting Conor McGregor at UFC Fight Night 59


(Dennis is the guy on the right. Poster-’shop via Jeremy Botter)

By Mike Fagan

The UFC hasn’t been subtle about fast-tracking Conor McGregor for a shot at Jose Aldo’s featherweight title, so it surprised many people when they booked the young Irishman to fight Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 59, this Sunday in Boston. Why not a highly-ranked wrestler like Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar, or Ricardo Lamas? The crack research team at Cage Potato dug into the data and may have figured out how the UFC came to its decision…

1. Siver is familiar with Brazilian jiu-jitsu


(Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Dennis Siver made his UFC debut at UFC 70, and Mike Goldberg noted that Siver was “a German kickboxing champ” who had “defeated ten of thirteen opponents.” That’s a great record! The UFC matched him with Jess Liaudin, who was also making his promotional debut and had accumulated a 12-8 pro MMA record. Above .500! Also pretty good! Siver took down Liaudin early on, and Goldberg remarked that Siver had a lot of jiu-jitsu training. That training came in handy when he was cognizant enough to tap out to Liaudin’s armbar from guard at 1:21 of the first. People can criticize McGregor for not having fought a wrestler, but they won’t be able to say the same of a jiu-jitsu player after Sunday.

2. Siver is a model of German efficiency


(Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After the Liaudin fight, Siver dropped down to lightweight and split a pair of fights. He then fought Melvin Guillard, who was returning to the UFC after one fight outside the organization. Guillard knocked Siver down right off the bat with two overhand rights. Siver attempted an armbar — he had a lot of jiu-jitsu training, remember — but Guillard snuck out. Siver bravely got back to his feet before Guillard landed a right hand that stiffened his legs and another right hand that put him back on the mat. Herb Dean officially stepped in at 36 seconds of the first round. Siver went 0 for 1 in strikes, and it doesn’t get any more efficient than that.

3. Siver is an artist in the cage


(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Siver came into this bout on a four-fight winning streak, the longest of his UFC career. As he entered the arena to Papa Roach’s “Last Resort,” Goldberg mentioned that Siver “is truly the possessor of the most dangerous spinning back kick in the UFC today, but Dennis Siver is a lot more than a spinning back kick.” Cerrone must have known this too, because he didn’t allow Siver to unleash even one. Cerrone followed up an inside leg kick with a high kick that caught Siver flush, sending him Fedor-Fujita fish-flopping. (Fedor’s a great comparison for Siver, because they were both born in Russia and they’re both great fighters.) Siver clinched and recovered, but a Cerrone right hand sent him rolling around on the mat like Lesnar-Overeem. (Brock Lesnar’s another great comparison for Siver since Siver looks like a miniature Lesnar and, of course, they’re both great fighters.) Cerrone locked up a rear-naked choke, and even Goethe would have admired Siver’s irony. Suffocation, no breathing.

4. Siver raised his stock against Manny Gamburyan


(Photo by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Siver needed a bounceback after being finished by Cub Swanson, and he got it against Manny Gamburyan at UFC 168. Unfortunately, the Nevada commission found hCG in Siver’s system. This hormone is often naturally produced during pregnancy or by some cancerous tumors. The NSAC decided the Gamburyan fight never happened (though I assure you it did), fined him nearly $20,000, and suspended him for nine months, despite never following up on whether was pregnant and/or had cancer. The silver lining, though, is that these events helped raise Siver’s profile higher than ever before, putting him in position for the McGregor fight.

5. Siver is comfortable under pressure


(Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Sunday will mark Siver’s first time in a main event, and he’s even stated that it’s the biggest fight of his career. You might worry that the heavy promotion and stature of the fight will play a role in Siver’s psyche, but you needn’t worry. Siver is coming off a victory over undefeated American wrecking machine Charles Rosa (Wikipedia page under construction) that saw him overcome the pressure of fighting on the prelim portion of a Fight Pass event in Sweden. A man who has dealt with the hostile politeness of a nonpartisan Swedish mob will not be phased by the six-degrees-of-Irish-heritage Boston crowd.

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