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George Sotiropoulos Weighs in On A Variety of Topics Ahead of UFC 127 Bout With Dennis Siver

(There’s this weird bald due who follows me everywhere including the dressing room of the gym. He’s behind me, isn’t he?)

We had the opportunity to speak with George Sotiropoulos back in December about his upcoming UFC 127 bout with Dennis Siver for an episode of The Bum Rush Radio Show and we touched on a number of topics, from his place in the UFC’s lightweight title picture to 10th Planet detractors and everything in between.

Here’s what G-Sots had to say:

On why he started fighting:

“I actually started with jiu-jitsu and that was my first point of contact with mixed martial arts. I knew that the ground was the key to success in MMA — the same as wrestling, as well. Without wrestling and jiu-jitsu, MMMA wouldn’t be what it is. It would just be glorified boxing or kickboxing. I added the boxing later on as the years went on to round my game off with striking. I’ve really dedicated myself to it and I believe that it’s a very important component of what I do. I saw UFC 1 and I saw the effectiveness of Royce Gracie and I basically decided, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ I set out to learn Brazilian jiu-jitsu and when I started I realized that the more I did, the more I needed. I basically decided that I wasn’t going to start fighting until I got to a black belt level so I could be truly confident in what I do. Once I got a black belt I started boxing and I worked towards doing MMA.”

On how he came to form a friendship with MMA icon Enson Inoue that led him to move to Japan:

“I actually fought in Guam in 2006. It was my fifth or sixth fight. [Enson] was attending the fight as a guest and he invited me to Japan. He actually came up to me after my fight and said, ‘That was a great fight. You should be fighting in Japan’ and I said to him, ‘If I come to Japan, will you get me fights?’ He said, ‘Hell yeah!’ I basically headed back to Australia, quit my job and headed out there a couple days later. It’s a completely different culture and lifestyle. Ultimately, the fighting is very similar everywhere you go, but the culture and the way of life over there is completely different. People out there are more dedicated and more respectful. When I was there I trained daily. You go to a gym on a Friday or Saturday night [in Japan] and the gym’s packed with people until about 10:30 at night. After you finish rolling, wrestling or sparring — whatever type of training you did that night, people are still finishing up doing clean and jerks and all sorts of training AFTER training. It’s a different culture. You’d be hard-pressed to get guys in the gym at 10:30 at night here in America or even in Australia, but that was the case over there. I mean EVERY guy from the gym  it was there training every Friday and Saturday night, so it was just a different culture. [Strong work ethic] was something I already had and I was already dedicated, but when II left [Japan] I was really shocked because I realized it was very hard to get guys in the gym at those hours on those days. It’s something I miss a lot. You really appreciate people with that dedication because if you’re ever caught in a situation where you can’t get someone to go in to train with you, you’re like, ‘Damn it. I wish I was back in Japan.’ I really have great training partners now and I really don’t miss a beat or a session. It’s good to know that you have guys who are always going to be around when you need them. At the same time, the schedule I have over here is different, so I didn’t always have double sessions over there, but over there guys were training more in the evening than during the day.”

On the fickleness of Internet MMA fans:

“It’s probably got something to do with sports in general. I don’t pay too much attention to [negative online opinions]. I’m pretty focused on what I’m doing. I think that’s the reality with any sport. For example, there could be a football team winning that hasn’t won a final in years and all of a sudden they’re in the finals for the first time in 30 years. Then they lose and the fans [who were cheering for them] are like, ‘I knew they couldn’t make it.’ I think fans in general do that. It’s hard to please anybody. It’s a fact of life. You may make someone happy with one thing, but at the same time you may be letting other people down. There’s two sides to every coin, and the reality is, you can’t win ‘em all.”

On the uproar over his competition legwear:

“I think people made a mountain out of a mole hill. It was never an issue prior to fighting Joe Stevenson. I fought Jason Dent and George Roop and nobody said anything.  I beat Joe Stevenson and it becomes an issue. I was called all sorts of names by Stevenson, Pellegrino, Lauzon — they all made an issue out of it. The fact is, it’s within the rules. They specify what kind of shorts you can wear, what kind of underwear you can wear. It’s not an issue. It’s completely legal. The other thing is, both fighters have an equal amount of frictions over each other [in those areas]so, it’s a level playing field.”

On whether or not the Detroit commission made an issue of it in his last bout:

“I actually did wear it [at UFC 123]. It was actually just a little bit shorter than it usually was. The commission had a word with me and they asked me to trim back the shorts a little bit to have some separation between my shorts and my knee sleeves, which is fine. That was pretty much it. They said themselves that I was perfectly within the rules and they couldn’t stop me because I wasn’t breaking any rules. Like you pointed out in [your] article, you used Frank Mir, I think Randy Couture, BJ Penn and there are so many other people wearing those articles and nobody said a damn thing about it. With me it’s controversial.”

On the negativity towards 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu system by BJJ purists:

“Yeah, there’s definitely some animosity there. I’ve seen it since I started [training in the 10th Planet system] and people would snub me or laugh or comment and have little digs or remarks. If you go back to Gracie jiu-jitsu that was an evolution of ground fighting where they took judo and they improved on the ground aspect of it and took it to a whole other level. 10th Planet is doing the same thing. Eddie basically recognized that by training in the gi, guys became masters of the ground using the gi. When you take the gi off, it changes the dynamic. You basically have use the clinch because in MMA because you don’t have the luxury of the gi to grab onto. I myself was guilty of grabbing the gi for years. When I first started wrestling, I’d be grabbing guys’ shorts and t-shirts, because that’s what I was used to doing. I started adapting to not wearing the gi as I improved in my wrestling and I developed a basic clinch game, but Eddie’s taken it to a whole other level using the underhooks, overhooks and Rubber Guard and half-guard. He’s basically mastering the clinch for the jiu-jitsu game and traditional jiu-jitsu doesn’t do that. People can call it bastardizing or whatever they want, but Eddie’s doing basically the same thing that the Gracies did in the early 1900s. I don’t see why they call it bastardization. You can even look at it like this: In ancient Greece they had Pankration which was a lethal blend of boxing and wrestling and somebody came up with this thing called ‘the guard’ and now you can start off you back. Well, wouldn’t you do it? It’s the same thing with 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. Eddie has revolutionized the past guard and made it the Rubber Guard. Why wouldn’t you do it? If it’s going to help you, of course you’re going to do it….There’s this new thing called email. You don’t actually have to go to the mailbox to send mail. You can do it from your desk at home without using a stamp. It’s evolution. [Instead of emailing to confirm this interview] I was going to send a dove, but they were all out on patrol.”

On his short and long-term goals:

“I set myself goals a long time ago and that was to be the best that I can be in this sport and to be one of the best in the world some day and I think I’m well on my way to making a case for myself. Every time you win a fight you make a case for yourself to be a contender for that belt. The thing is, I’m fighting Dennis Siver. I’m not fighting for the belt, so I’m only focusing on Dennis Siver. Everything after that is a bonus, but it’s really irrelevant right now. Anything can happen and the situation can change at the speed of thought. I’m just going to focus on Dennis Siver. There’s a lot of talk about [me] being a contender and getting a title shot, but that’s not really the case and I don’t want to think about it.”

On Mark Bocek calling him out, claiming he has better jiu-jitsu:

“Who? Who? That’s fine. I think it’s a sign of progress, guys calling you out. I’m happy to fight whoever they put in front of me. After I fight Dennis Siver, whoever they give me next is who I’ll be fighting. I don’t make the fights. They give me a name and I just show up and fight.”

Cagepotato Comments

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cecils_pupils- February 19, 2011 at 9:29 am
Nice to see fbf is back in da house. The mma-verse is back in balance now.
cecils_pupils- February 19, 2011 at 9:27 am
I am agree - EDIT option avaialble? Can help wtih my misspellz...
Jazzninja- February 19, 2011 at 6:30 am
I have no issue with the way Bravo names his moves. They have catchy moves that at least mean something to me that I can visualise and remember. An Ichiguro or a Yatsohaiku mean nothing to me and I find it beyond retarded that people somehow think its meaningful to use those names. Only non native languages use those names. In Japan/China/Whatever country they call them the straight right or the tiger strike or hip toss or whatever. They don't use meaningless words to them... they have meaning and they understand them. What on earth is wrong with a guy from the US calling his moves something that I can at least makes linguistic sense to me.
fatbellyfrank- February 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm
G-Sot is da man, definitely top 5, and Fried Taco, maybe your right
RwilsonR- February 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm
I think with 10th Planet, it is both the messenger and the delivery of the message that people don't like. Nobody really likes Eddie Bravo, or his stupid names. That is obvious. But he also acts likes his 'inventions' are the be all, end all for every situation. Less arrogance and less creepy goth pedophile would go a long way towards acceptance of their methods.
Jonny5- February 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm
I would rank G. Sotiroupoulos somewhere in the top 15 but not top 10 in the world at LW. Beating Siver should not get him a title shot whatsoever IMO. I still think this fight against Siver will be interesting as all hell and am looking forward to it and 2 other fights on this card. BTW is it free on spike since its in Aus?
Fried Taco- February 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm
Maybe I need to put more maybes in. Or maybe we need an edit option.
Fried Taco- February 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm
Yeah, maybe if Eddie wasn't high every time he named one of his new techniques, maybe others would be more accepting.
RearNakedSpoon- February 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm
G-Sot is awesome, hope he gets a title shot soon.
manutdfan- February 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm
Most of the hate for the 'rubber guard' system is actually about it's 'inventor' Eddie Bravo, and less about the techniques.

If Eddie didn't act the way he does, no one would have much of an issue.