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Dennis Siver on UFC Sweden Foe Diego Nunes: When He Is Pressured, He Folds

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Dennis Siver will compete as a featherweight for the first time in 28 pro fights on Saturday afternoon. That's when he will meet contender Diego Nunes at UFC on FUEL TV 2 in Stockholm, Sweden.

The change in weight classes come after his first-round submission loss to Donald Cerrone in October, a one-sided defeat snapped his four-fight winning streak in the crowded lightweight division. recently spoke to the German fighter about why he decided to drop to 145 pounds, fighting Nunes, the state of MMA in Germany and the future of his favorite fighter, Fedor Emelianneko.

Ariel Helwani: Why did you decide to go down to featherweight at this point in your career?
Dennis Siver: My main motivation was that I wanted to try something new. I wanted to reinvent myself; I wanted to fight new people. Also, my reach is not really suited for the lightweight class. So by moving down to featherweight, I feel like my reach will be more than adequate.

How long have you been thinking about moving down to featherweight?
It came after the Donald Cerrone fight. As long as I was winning at lightweight, I didn't really think about moving down to featherweight. But I did notice that the fighters at lightweight got taller every year and bigger every year and at some point I just had to take a look at myself. So I decided to go down to featherweight. There's so many talented people at lightweight who are much, much bigger than I am.

I heard that you enjoy eating and you have a sweet tooth, so how tough has this weight cut been for you?
I train twice a day. Basically, what I did was after my second training session in the evening, I started to not eat a lot anymore. I cut out everything that wasn't salad, fruits or vegetables. But during the day, I eat as much as I've always have. I even eat some sweets during the day. Since I've already been doing this for about eight weeks, my weight came down gradually to where it is now, so I think it will be smooth sailing.

Considering your size, how easy was the weight cut down to 155 pounds?
I have been about ten pounds heavier in the past, so it doesn't really make a big difference. I used to have to cut weight by going into the sauna shortly before weigh-ins in the past, and I'll still have to do that. Through my diet, my base weight has been lowered by about ten pounds, so I'm exactly where I was before.

Do you believe that there is a quicker path to the title at 145 as opposed to 155, and if so, did that cross your mind when making this decision?
That isn't really a concern for me. Basically, this is going to be my first fight at featherweight, and I see this as a test. I want to see if having to keep a diet and moving down in weight is going to be beneficial to me. That's why I'm fighting Diego Nunes. Diego is a very, very tough guy, so I will have to see how my body will hold up to being ten pounds lighter. Obviously, my prime motivation right now is to establish myself and have a good fight. It's not necessarily to get a title shot right away. It's something I want down the line, but it's not my primary focus for this fight.

So it sounds like you haven't closed the book on your days of fighting as a lightweight just yet, right?
That's correct. I could go back to lightweight at any time.

Often when someone debuts in a new weight class, the UFC will sort of ease him into things. However, Nunes is arguably a top-five UFC featherweight. Did the match-up surprise you when you were presented it?
You're absolutely right. I was kind of expecting an easier fight for my first fight in the weight class, but on the other hand, it's pretty obvious that getting an opponent such as Diego signifies that the UFC actually thinks that I can hang with the top guys in the weight class. Plus, obviously, a win over Diego Nunes is going to put me in a much more favorable position than a win against some scrub. On the other hand, if I'm going to lose to Diego Nunes, obviously it's going to be a bad loss because Diego is very high in the rankings, but at the same time, it's not a catastrophe.

Are you expecting a lot of friends and family to attend the fight since Germany is so close to Sweden?
I don't expect my family to be there, but there's definitely going to be a lot of my friends there. Not as many as I would have wanted to come because there aren't enough tickets going around, but a couple of my friends will be there and I'm pretty sure that there will be a large contingent of German fans who will be there. It's obviously a good thing because I can fight close to home and I don't have to change time zones.

Do you prefer fighting in Europe as opposed to North America?
Obviously, fighting in Europe is much more preferable because I wouldn't be suffering from jet lag, and I don't have to be in coach for 16 hours to get to Vegas, and I don't have to deal with the time zone change. So all in all, I feel a lot better when I fight in Europe. That doesn't necessarily mean that I don't want to fight somewhere else, obviously I've fought all over the world for the UFC, but as far as how I feel, it's better for me to fight in Europe.

Have you studied a lot of tape on Nunes, and if so, what are the biggest holes in his game that you have identified?
I have watched a lot of his fight, especially the ones in the UFC. I analyzed his style a lot. His main weakness is his conditioning. I feel like when he is pressured, he kind of folds sometimes and doesn't fight to his potential. I think his ground game might not be very strong, but he's a very, very good striker. He's dangerous.

The MMA coverage in German media hasn't been positive over the last couple of years. What's the state of the sport in your country today?
It's the same. Nothing has changed since last year. The UFC is still not back on television and you really don't hear much about it on television. If you hear something, it's typically not anything good.

Finally, I read that Fedor Emelianenko is your favorite fighter of all-time, so since his career has been somewhat of a hot topic lately, what would you like to see him do?
I would still really want to see Fedor compete in the UFC. He might not be where he once was -- 4-to-5 years ago he used to be really dominant -- he isn't anymore, even though his last fight was a lot more successful than the ones before that, but I would still like to see him in the UFC because if Fedor wants to be the best in the world, if he wants to reclaim his spot as one of the elite fighters, it has to happen in the UFC because there's nowhere else as far as competition is concerned. If you want to be No. 1, you have to be in the UFC.

Special thanks to the great Oliver Copp for translating Siver's answers during this interview.