While all fighters have championship aspirations dancing in their heads, three of UFC 127’s combatants are zeroing in on title contention. Two of the three will face each other in the main event, while the other has waited long enough for the chance that has been rather elusive to him.
George Sotiropoulos vs. Dennis Siver
First, there’s George Sotiropoulos! Until February 19th, 2011, he in my opinion, was arguably the most underappreciated fighter in Mixed Martial Arts. His last win at UFC 123 over Joe Lauzon, via submission, gave him an eight-fight winning streak, tying him with Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. Throughout the course of this run, the most he received was a mere mention about title contention, until finally, the tide turned. In a recent promotional conference call for the February 26th event, UFC President Dana White announced that the Australian lightweight will be in line for a title shot, should he beat Siver, and the smoke clears in the division. What smoke? First, reigning champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard must dance a third time for the strap. From there, WEC Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and Clay Guida will face each other at The Ultimate Fighter, Season 13 finale to decide a new number one contender. When it’s all said and done, the Australian will get his shot at whoever stands as champion. First, he must overcome the hands and takedown ability of Siver. The Russian will not be a walk in the park by any means, especially with a spinning back kick that is comparable to Jon Bones Jones’ spinning back elbow. However, given his stamina, well roundedness and further extended wait for a title shot, I’m looking for a motivated “Sots” to attack in a way that shows he wants what is rightfully his.
BJ “The Prodigy” Penn vs. Jon Fitch
Finally, there’s BJ Penn and Jon Fitch. Unlike Sotiropoulos, these two welterweights will have to go through each other to earn title contention. Also, they’re both experienced in matches with championship implications. Fitch fell short in his attempt to dethrone Georges St. Pierre back at UFC 87 in his only title shot. Penn, however, is in an elite class. He is one of only few to hold a title in more than one weight class; lightweight and welterweight. Penn also faced St. Pierre, losing both times. The first meeting between the two resulted in a controversial decision, which many feel should’ve went Penn’s way. Part two was a lopsided loss for The Prodigy. Fitch has not lost a fight since his 2008 meeting with St. Pierre. He’s won five straight bouts, all of which by unanimous decision. Penn is coming off a remarkable :21 disposal of Matt Hughes in his return to the welterweight division. Fitch is a top-tier wrestler in the division, however he has not finished an opponent since 2007, which questions his ability to do so. Penn, on the other hand, is regarded as one of the best strikers in all of MMA. As if that wasn’t enough, he is seeking guidance from legendary boxing trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. to fine tune his boxing. Though Penn has one fight under his belt in his return to the welterweight division, I think he still possesses the quickness of a lightweight, which could be a problem for Fitch’s grappling game. I’m taking the Prodigy to end this one with a second round TKO.
Sydney Australia’s Acer Arena is the place where the Welterweight and Lightweight championship pictures will become a little clearer. Check back soon to see if I’ve painted the right subjects into their respective portraits. Enjoy fight night everyone!
By Antoine Hoffman