When thinking about the UFC lightweight
division, one name has slowly, but surely crept up as a definite contender…
George Sotiropoulos. Previously his amazing ground skills stood out,
but his dominating performance against Joe Stevenson proved Sotiropoulos
to be a complete MMA fighter. He impressively displayed all aspects
of the game; Striking, Wrestling and Grappling. Now 5-0 in the UFC,
he is certainly one fighter no lightweight should under estimate.
Elie: Congratulations on your win at UFC 110,
how did it feel?
George: Tremendous. I’m very happy that I got to showcase in front of
my country. I got to put on a great show for the Australians and they
can take pride in one of their own fighters doing well on the world
Elie: You beat Joe Stevenson, that’s a big name
in the UFC lightweight division, what was the feeling when the referee
raised your hand?
George: Most people had counted me out. Initially I was a heavy underdog.
As the fight got closer the odds started to change. Initially I was
4 – 1, but it narrowed 2 - 1. Many believed he would out class me in
everything; striking, wrestling and grappling. I was happy to prove
Elie: Do you like playing the underdog?
George: It’s not that I like it, I just thrive on it. I can’t say it
motivates me to try harder because I am already trying my best and giving
it everything I’ve got.
Elie: He seemed very confident going into the
fight; do you think he underestimated you?
George: I think he definitely underestimated me. Although it would not
have changed the outcome.
Elie: You basically dominated him for 3 rounds,
what was the game plan going into the fight?
George: The game plan was to fight from all areas, wherever the fight
went, whether I took the fight to a certain area or whether he did,
I was prepared to fight and do battle from any position. I train mixed
martial arts. I’m a complete fighter and train in all aspects. Wrestling,
grappling, boxing and muay thai. I’m prepared to do battle wherever
the fight goes.
Elie: So how did you feel about your overall
George: I was happy with it because I got to showcase my entire game.
There were question marks about my wrestling and striking ability. I
answered those questions.
Elie: First time you go to the third round in
the UFC, how did your cardio feel during the fight?
George: My cardio felt fine. I was well prepared. It’s not the first
time I fought a three round fight, I’ve fought a five round and several
fights that have gone to the third round in the past also. I’m prepared,
I do the work and I’ve got the gas in the tank to make it through those
Elie: How did it feel walking towards the cage
in your home country and having the crowd cheer as loud as they did
George: I loved it. I was so focused on the fight that I didn’t pay
attention to it, but I was well aware of it. When the fight was over
I took it all in. I could take a moment to experience the surreal moment
of having 17,000 people cheer for me. It was tremendous.
Elie: Standing there waiting for the fight to
start, what was going through your head?
George: I lived that moment everyday from the day that I accepted the
bout with Stevenson. I studied his strengths, weaknesses, fights, mentality
and everything about him. By the time the fight came around, it was
routine going over the techniques and scenarios. I routinely did the
same techniques and scenarios.
Elie: So what was it like to fight in Australia
for the UFC?
George: I loved it because when I left Australia in 2007 I didn’t think
I’d be fighting in Australia on an event of that calibre. I didn’t think
that the UFC would come to Australia years later. When I initially set
out to fight mixed martial arts in the UFC, I envisioned that I’d be
fighting in the USA, possibly the UK, but not Australia. When I last
fought in Australia in 2006, it was in-front of a small crowd. To now
see MMA in the main stream is a big plus and it’s a privilege being
part of it.
Elie: You’ve been in the MMA game for a while
now, how did this fight differ for you?
George: The only difference was it was on the world stage. I’ve prepared
for this for a long time coming by fighting internationally in Australia,
Guam, Japan, South Korea and the USA. I’ve competed in other international
events like Abu Dhabi (submission grappling world championships) and
competing in boxing and wrestling. I began preparing myself a long time
ago for this day and what lays ahead.
Elie: The event was an obvious success, what
do you think this will do for MMA in Australia?
George: It’s going to help the sport grow. The UFC laid the foundation
for further events. They’ve hyped the sport, the seeds have been planted
for more. As to quote Dana White, he said that “every person that came
to that event is going to go back and tell 40 people and then that 40
people will tell another 40 people,” and basically that is what’s going
to happen. People saw that it was a great sport, it is exciting action
packed. It sells itself. I don’t think there’s a more exciting, more
technical sporting event to watch.
Elie: Some media are still writing uneducated
articles calling it barbaric, etc. Does that ever bother you, knowing
how much the fighters train and what you go through to prepare yourself
for a fight?
George: They just show ignorance. Journalists are meant to do research
about what they report, those journalist obviously haven’t. So what
would you expect from people who don’t do their job properly? Garbage!
Elie: (laughs) You live and train in the U.S.
now, any thoughts of you coming back to Australia to maybe open a gym
or bring the knowledge you have in MMA back here in Australia?
George: At the moment I have no plans for opening a gym. I’m purely
focused on training and fighting. It’s hard to bark and bite at the
same time, but I rule nothing out.
Elie: You mentioned your goal is the title, how
far do you think you are from it?
George: I would say a year with consecutive wins. I want to be the best
at what I do and this is what motivates me every day.
Elie: You’re undefeated, 5-0 in the UFC, that’s
huge, how does it feel?
George: It’s a great feeling. I’m happy fighting in the UFC, which is
a privilege. I am among the best in the world of what I do.
Elie: By now everyone should know how great your
game is, but your stand up lately has been looking amazing, is that
something you have been really working on?
George: It’s a work in progress like my entire game.
Elie: Anyone in particular you’d like to fight?
George: Everyone in the lightweight division.
Elie: Thank you for the interview. Any final
George: I would like to give a special thanks to the following people;
Leonard Gabriel at Fisticuffs Boxing Gym in Vancouver Washington, &
Eddie Bravo at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu in Hollywood California.