The new MMA poster boy in Germany
UFC 122 went down last weekend in Oberhausen, Germany, which meant free MMA action for fans in North America.
The UFC was making its return to Germany after previously being banned in the country after their last visit, and the event had its ups and downs.
Because of the significant time difference between North America and Germany, the event was shown for free on tape delay in North America. Although having a free night of fights is great from time to time, the event was lacking the big names that you would see in a Pay-Per-View.
The UFC has been committed to expanding the popularity of MMA all over the world. They took this opportunity to show off some of their best German talent, no doubt with the goal of sparking local interest.
The most notable German name on the card was Dennis Siver, who has been making quite a splash in the UFC’s lightweight division. Siver has become well-known for his explosive striking, powerful spinning back kick, and crowd-pleasing style. Touted as the poster boy of German MMA, Siver’s fight with Englishman Andre Winner left the crowd buzzing.
After a few unremarkable opening matches, the crowd at the König Pilsener Arena was treated to a furious one-round stand-up battle.
In the early going, Siver had problems with the significant reach advantage of his English opponent. Andre landed several effective body kicks to the German kickboxer, who was having real trouble getting his combinations to land. When Siver would miss with his punches, Winner would punish him with leg kicks that buckled the crowd favourite several times.
Apparently displeased with how the stand-up was going, Siver attempted to take Winner down unsuccessfully. However, after the two men separated, the German magically found his punching range and started to land solid shots.
Winner began to slow down as a result of the punches, which allowed Siver to get even more comfortable with his range and timing; he was beginning to figure out the Englishman’s game.
As Winner would wade in with punches, Siver would comfortably slip away and look for opportunities to counter.
The opportunity came at three minutes into the first, when Andre charged in with a flurry of strikes. Siver calmly eluded the attack before blasting Winner with a counter left hook right on the chin. The rather silent crowd suddenly erupted with so much noise that the TV commentary was difficult to understand.
Siver pounced on his opponent with a flurry of punches, but despite the onslaught, Winner was slowly recovering.
Sensing that he needed to make a change, Dennis took Andre’s back, beautifully trapping one of Winner’s arms with his leg before sinking in a rear-naked choke for the win in front of his home crowd.
The win improves the German’s UFC record to 5-1 in his last six. Siver was already billed as the face of German MMA before the fight, no doubt that designation has now been solidified. Look for the Siver to appear on all future UFC events in Germany. His continued success will be vital to the growth of the sport in that area.
The night’s main event saw Yushin Okami capture a forgettable decision win over Nate Marquardt in a middleweight contender bout.
Contender bouts like this have been receiving a lot of criticism lately, as many fans believe that fighters are compelled to play it safe with a looming title shot on the line. This fight did nothing to change that.
A smattering of boos was the bout’s constant companion. Both men fought very cautiously and this turned the fight into a battle of positioning and anticipation.
Each fighter had their moments controlling the action on the ground, Nate attempted a submission early in the first but was unsuccessful. In the third round, Okami was more aggressive. The Japanese fighter didn’t do much damage, but the pressure he applied was enough to squeak out the win.
Although Okami was promised a title fight after the win, many media sources are questioning his worth of the opportunity given his lacklustre performance.
Okami will be scheduled to face the winner of Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort, but he did nothing to convince fans that he will have anything to offer either of the top-notch middleweight fighters.
The real story of the night was Siver. His submission of the night award earned him an extra fifty grand in his pocket, and escalated fame in his home country. His impressive win on the big stage should have a very positive effect on the development of MMA in Germany.