German UFC-standout Dennis Siver successfully arrived at the featherweight division. With his unanimous decision victory over Brazilian Diego Nunes, at UFC on Fuel TV 2 in Stockholm, Sweden, he passed the test and is sure he will stay in the new weight class.
GroundandPound: Dennis, first of all congratulations to your first victory in the featherweight division. How happy are you with your performance?
Dennis Siver: Thank you, I just re-watched the fight und gotta say that I am pretty content. A finish would have been better, of course, but Diago Nunes is a tough opponent, so I think winning a decision in my first featherweight fight is okay. I clearly won, no doubt about that. So from my perspective everything was okay.
When Bruce Buffer announced the decision, did you have concerns that it could go the other way?
I was pretty confident that I did enough, but you never know. Bad decisions can happen sometimes. So I wasn’t a hundred percent sure. But I had a good feeling, because I controlled most parts of the fight and tried to always do more than him. You can never predict how those judges decide, though.
You said it yourself: Nunes is not exactly an easy opponent. Are you all the more happier to beat him, because you will likely have an even better spot in the new division now?
For sure! When I heard that I will face him, it was like an honor to immediately get such a good opponent and not having to start from the get go. It shows that the UFC has confidence in me and gives me a lot of credit. After I won I felt great and I believe that this win brought me way up to the top. I am very pleased.
How many more of such strong opponents do you think you will have to beat, before you can face champion Jose Aldo?
Hard to say, not too many I guess. I think, if I can rack up another one or two victories, it might happen. I can’t tell for sure. Right now, it would bee too soon, if you ask me. I would like to get another one or two fights to get used to the new weight class, the opponents and the weight-cut. Even if everything went well, except for that little mishap.
You were one pound heavy on the official scale...
Yes, I had my own scale with me in the sauna when I was making weight. It looks like my scale showed one pound less that the official one. But I didn’t have the time to do 144 lbs. on my scale, so I had 145 lbs. The official scale showed one pound more that I had to cut afterwards, what I managed to do without problems.
What went through your head when you hit the scale and it showed one pound too much?
Nothing I would like to repeat here (laughs). Let’s put it like this: I wasn’t a hundred percent sure that I would make the exact weight, so I pretty much expected that I could have to do a second try. I just hoped for the scale to show the same weight as my own, but that obviously didn’t happen. Afterwards I was pretty devastated, of course, because I was hoping to finally get to eat and drink something. Instead, I had to make another pound in one hour, which was pretty exhausting.
Are you allowed to leave the arena in such a situation? Because I assume they didn’t have a sauna there.
The UFC is prepared for things like that. It has been the same thing in Australia, where I also had to go for a second try. When I steppen down from the scale, a couple of people told me not to drink something and wait for their decision what is to do now. Then I talked to some officials, who told me, I would have one and a half hour to make the weight. The UFC provided a driver that brought us back to the hotel and into the sauna, waited there for me and my team, and brought us back to the arena afterwards, where a couple of people from the commission where already waiting for me. A team member of Nunes was also there. I hit the scale again and made weight this time, I had exactly 145 lbs. Then we went back to the hotel. The UFC is ready for everything, they have cars, drivers, everything is well organized.
How long did it take you to recover from the weight-cut?
I had my weight back the same night. At nine, ten o’clock I was already almost recovered. At that time I was having my second meal after the weigh-in, loading up my body. The next morning I felt great. This process is no problem for me, I’m used to it.
How much weight did you lose in the week before the fight?
I started my diet at the beginning of my training camp. Four weeks before the fight I had my weight down to 74 Kilos (163 lbs.). I was cutting the rest in the day before the weigh-in, on fight night I already had 75 Kilos (165 lbs.) again. Monday morning I was back to 78 Kilos (171 lbs.) (laughs).
The yo-yo effect?
Yeah, probably. When your body is underweight all the time, you are always hungry, no matter how much you eat. If you eat Friday night and the whole Saturday, your body loads up so much, that you can get your original weight back really fast. After watching the fight, I gotta say I didn’t look to different from my lightweight days.
Did the weight-cut affect your condition?
No, not really. I think you could see that I was ready. I was content with my performance and my condition, I was well prepared, so that has not been a problem.
You told GroundandPound TV that this fight will be a test run for you. Did you pass?
Yes, I passed the test and will stay at featherweight. Now I know how things are in the new division and there won’t be any problems with the weight-cut in the future. The opponents here and their height and reach suit me better than the lighweights, that have gotten to big for me lately. I see my future in the featherweight division.
You were controlling wide parts of the fight standing up, but still you were shooting for a few takedowns – something we don’t see very often. Did dou go for the groundfight or did you just want to collect a few points for the case that the round might end up close?
It was part of my strategy to go to the ground and do some work there, maybe tire him out a little bit. But his takedown defense was so good that this strategy didn’t work. The first takedown worked, the others didn’t. But I already realized at this point, that I wasn’t inferior to him standing up. I wanted to collect a few points and show someting different, to keep the fight interesting.
The fans missed your trademark Spinning-Back Kick.
I tried it once, but the problem is that everyone, including my opponent, knows this kick by now and expects it. This way it is really hard to hit it. A technique can only be effective if it catches people by surprise. When I threw this kick the first two times, a couple of years ago, it worked, because no one new it was coming. I still have this kick on my mind and will hit it, if the opportunity occurs, but Diego moved well and wasn’t an easy target to hit. It is also very risky to throw such a kick, because if you miss, you are in a bad spot and might very well catch a counter. That’s why I don’t want to throw it too often and play it safe, rely on my boxing. Also, my normal kicks worked fine as well.
Instead, Nunes has thrown a lot Spinning-Back Kicks...
I was prepared for that as well, I watched his fights. He throws that kick too often, so everybody expects it from him. He didn’t really hit it, he catched me a few times, but all the kicks were blocked. I expected them and instantly moved away. If you use a weapon too often, it gets useless. You’ve got to suprise people to hit and score.
It looked like Nunes was using this kicks to keep the distance, because he didn’t want to get into a fist fight with you. Do you agree?
Maybe, yeah. Almost all of his kicks were thrown to keep me away. To be honest, his boxing wasn’t too impressive. He didn’t put combinations together and tried to attack with fancy single blows instead, like spinning punches and wild hooks. But it is hard to hit such techniques, to box people you need to throw combinations and then you have to add kicks to the mix, too. Those single attacks may look fancy, but they are practically useless. People see them coming if you throw them from a two meters distance. Maybe that was his weakness, I could cope with all of his attacks with a quick eye and good counterpunching.
You won the first two rounds, in the third you had problems with his thai clinch, where he was able to hit you with a pretty good knee. What happened there?
Actually he hit me with two knees that opened up cuts above and below my eye. He was pretty strong when he grabbed my head. It was difficult to escape, especially at the end of round three. Maybe I was a bit tired. We didn’t really prepare for the thai clinch, too, because we thought he wouldn’t use it that much.
Also in the third round, you catched a hard blow and went down to a knee. How hurt have you been?
He rattled me pretty good, I catched a right hook behind the ear. There’s still a bump. But it was only a short moment, I wasn’t knocked down or anything, I simply lost my balance there, for a second. I composed myself really quick. It was like beeing hit on the back oft he head with a hammer, that knocked me down to a knee. But I was allright.
The crowd in Sweden was cheering for you very loud. Did you hear that?
Of course! I was surprised that the Swedes supported me that much. There have also been lots of Germans, I could hear their voices, too. Maybe the Swedes wanted to support me as a European rather than some Brasilian fighter. And maybe in Europe I’m better known than Diego Nunes. The support helped a lot, this is way better than beeing booed (laughs).
Do already know who you will be facing next?
No, not yet. I had talks with the UFC’s matchmaker but he didn’t mention my next fight or opponent. He hinted that it might be something close by a title fight, but didn’t give me a name or date. And I didn’t want to ask either, because now I just want to relax and recover. I guess in the coming weeks we will know more.
Is there anyone you would like to face? Ross Person has made his move to featherweight, not too long ago.
I would like to face him, because this would be the rematch I was asking for, for a long time. But career-wise he isn’t too interesting of an opponent, because he isn’t even in the top five of the division. Such a fight wouldn’t be a step forward for me. However, I would take the fight, if offered by the UFC. Other than that I just want to fight someone in the top five that gets me closer to a title shot.
Mark Bergmann, Jan Großöhmigen and Martin Thauer conducted the interview.