Dennis Siver: „I will punish Conor McGregor“
Germany's Dennis Siver faces the biggest fight of his career. After his victory against Charles Rosa at UFC Stockholm, the most successful German UFC fighter will meet Ireland's Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC Fight Night 59 in Boston. It's the first time that a German fighter is part of a UFC main event. We talked with Siver about his last and his upcoming fight.
Groundandpound.de: Before your last fight, things went a little bit crazy. Your first opponent was injured and your first replacement opponent was not approved by the commission. A week before the fight, Charles Rosa was announced as your opponent. Did you have any chance to adjust yourself to your new opponent?
Dennis Siver: No, not really. The time was too short. You can’t do much in one week. We have roughly changed tactics. He was fighting in an orthodox stand and my previous opponent was a southpaw. We have adjusted the game plan. Everything else couldn’t be changed anymore. But that was not a problem.
The fight against UFC newcomer Charles Rosa was quite varied. Did you expect him to offer that much resistance?
I had thought I could finish the fight quickly, but he surprised me. Respect to him. He has kept up very well. He blocked and defended very well. He also had good stamina. I guess he already prepared for another fight. You normally can’t fight like this for three rounds without good preparation. The pace was high. I did not expect a fight like this.
In the third round you showed your trademark move: the spinning back kick. According to Rosa’s reaction you hit the bulls’ eye. What went through your mind at that moment?
When he smiled, I thought: "What is going on now?" I've felt that I hit him perfectly, but he has not shown any real reaction. Then he went down. (laughs) So I thought that I had to finish the fight quickly and I attacked him. But it did not work out. My knee was not right there. Otherwise it would have been over. I think he blocked the knee with his arm. He fell down, but I couldn’t knock him out, unfortunately.
It wasn’t the “Knockout of the Night”, but the “Fight of the Night” with a unanimous decision victory. A perfect comeback after the suspension, right?
Yes, I'm quite happy with the fight, with the result and with the "Fight of the Night" award. This is a special recognition and it's always better to get a win and a bonus instead of only a victory in the Champions League (of MMA). I'm happy.
In the last interview with Groundandpound.de you said that you would like to fight against Conor McGregor. The fight is official now. What went through your mind when the UFC called and offered you the fight?
That was surprising. Many have asked me whether I would fight him, but I did not think that it would happen that fast. I expected that I need to have another fight. It was surprising for me, but I was also happy. This is a big step forward. He is number five in the UFC featherweight rankings and if I beat him, I'm back in the range of a title shot. That makes me happy. I'm fired up for this fight.
Would you describe this as the biggest fight of your career?
You can say that. The hype, the audience, everything around it -- that's the biggest thing I've ever had. I have not gotten as much attention until now.
This is the first time that you will fight in a UFC main event. Is there a special pressure involved?
Oh no, I don’t care that much. I have enough experience. I have fought against good people all over the world. That does not bother me. The only difference is that you get more attention from the media. You do much more interviews. Now I have to fly to Las Vegas for a press conference. There will be more interviews and photo shootings. I have done stuff like this before. It’s just a little bit bigger now. In the end it is nothing else.
The first main event also means this is your first fight scheduled for five rounds. How do you prepare for it?
Yes, that's something new. I'm going to have to train even more stamina. My preparation starts when I come back from the US. I'll train my conditioning. I will work with an extra conditioning coach who will support me with stamina and strength. I will do more sparring, running and stuff like this.
What kind of fight do you expect?
That will probably be a stand-up battle. I think I'm good enough to beat him on the feet. Therefore, I will try to unpack all my techniques: my kicks, my punches and so on. Of course, the fight can also be very long. We might end up in a clinch or I will take him down. But we'll see. It is difficult to predict the outcome. I'll prepare myself for everything like always. If something does not work out, you have to unpack Plan B. I always try to cover everything in training. It's simple.
McGregor is known for his big mouth and he has also said a few bad things about you. Does this motivate you?
I try to handle it in a professional manner. I'm trying to not rise to provocation. Of course, it motivates me. When he insults me, I want vengeance and I will do that in the fight. I will punish him for it. But he won’t be able to upset me. It’s probably his goal to break people mentally. He can’t do this to me. I'm not so sensitive in that matter. I prepare myself for the fight and will do my thing.
On Twitter you answered to one of McGregor's taunts. Can we expect counters like that more often from you?
If he gets up to such nonsense again, I will respond to it. I won’t answer every small provocation though -- only when it touches me. (laughs) Only if it is necessary, there will be an answer from me. I won’t let him fool me. He'll receive backlash. Let's see what happens.
There is a lot of hype behind McGregor. People are already talking about a fight between him and Jose Aldo. Do you feel a little overlooked and underestimated?
Yes, I feel underestimated. But that's not the first time. There have been such situations in the past. I have fought against people who would have gotten a title shot with a win over me and they didn’t get the title shot because I beat them. (laughs) They are pushing and hyping McGregor so much. He is just a human being and if he loses the fight, the hype will already be over. Calm will be restored then. This motivates me even more to end this (hype) right now and to show the world that he is not the kind of guy who they think he is.
In 2011 there was a similar situation with George Sotiropoulos. He was very close to a title shot until you beat him.
Yes, that's what I meant. (laughs)
So will we see a similar picture on January 18?
Exactly, exactly. If the result is the same in the end, everything will be good.
Conor McGregor will probably get a title shot with a victory. How far are you away from a title shot with a win?
I guess I will not get an immediate title shot. There are a few other guys who are in line right now. But with one more win I'd be really close. When you are at number four or five, then you're always a possible contender. It only takes one injured contender and you're next. It's all possible.
Last question: On January 18, everyone should watch the fight, because...
Because I'm going to show the world that McGregor is not the man people think he is. I'll show a good fight and give my best. Watch it.
Thanks for taking the time.