George Sotiropoulos is climbing towards the top of the heap in the UFC's 155 pound division. A blackbelt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and former boxer who has fought all over the world, George is now making waves in the biggest and most competitive entity in mixed martial arts. After commanding wins over the likes of Joe Stevenson and Kurt Pellegrino, George continues to impress both fans and the UFC brass. A contestant of the ever popular Ultimate Fighter series, George has gone on to have quite a successful career in the UFC. One of our favorite fighters, Campizone MMA is thrilled to present you this exclusive interview.
Campizone MMA: Joe Campizone of CampizonE MMA joined with George Sotiropoulos, George thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to have a few words with us.
George Sotiropoulos: Thank you man, thanks for having me.
CMMA: Big things happening in your career now George, coming off of two impressive wins over contenders Joe Stevenson and Kurt Pellegrino, what do you attribute these wins to?
GS: Hard work.. It's been a long road. Through jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing and MMA-- there has been a lot of training over the years. It didn't happen over the night, and it was a long road to get here. I've done lot of training and a lot of competition in jiu jitsu, wrestling and MMA and this was the result of all those things.
CMMA: A long way since the Ultimate fighter.
GS: Well , even before the ultimate fighter, I did a lot of things, The Ultimate Fighter was only one of the things I had done. I had already competed in over 100 grappling matches, I wrestled, competed in amateur and pro boxing and competed internationally before The Ultimate Fighter. The Ultimate Fighter was just one of the great things I had done over the years.
CMMA: Were you a little surprised they gave you Lauzon after the wins over Stevenson and Pellegrino? A lot of people were expecting a top 5 opponent and while Lauzon is a very talented fighter, he may not fit that bill. Did it surprise you?
GS: No... I look at it like a tournament, and you never know who you're gonna get in a tournament. I try not to speculate on who I'm gonna get, it's always fun but you can't pin your hopes on fighting certain people. The reality of fighting is you've got to fight anybody-- that's my philosophy. I don't expect to fight certain people, I'll be willing to fight whoever they give me and that's basically the way it happened.
CMMA: What do you feel like Lauzon brings to the table as an opponent? What are you preparing for?
GS: I prepare how I normally prepare for my fights.. I study my opponent really closely, I include all aspects of fighting in my training, boxing, muay thai, wrestling, jiu jitsu -- and I study his strengths and his weaknesses and what Lauzon brings is a lot of aggression, he's eratic, he's kind of wild and he's good at using his strengths. That's basically what he brings to the table.
CMMA: You've got to be very close to a title shot. Do you think the winner of this fight gets the next shot at the belt?
GS: No. I don't think so.. that's wishful thinking and that would all be good in a perfect world but no, I don't think that's going to happen. I think it will be a step in that direction.
CMMA: What did you think about Frankie Edgar's latest performance over BJ Penn?
GS: I think it was great, he was fast, he was agile, he was quick-- great wrestling, great boxing, very athletic, so I think he did a great job.
CMMA: A lot of fans and even some fighters have been criticizing Edgar's recent performances, I don't agree with them, but guys like Cole Miller and Dan Hardy said they are sick and tired of so called "point fighters" making no attempts to finish the fight. What's your take on this controversy?
GS: Well, for starters... It's not easy to finish BJ Penn. (laughs), I think Franky did his best, he made best of the situation, and fought to the best of his abilities... I think he did try and finish it but at the same time I understand what Dan Hardy's saying. The reality is that not every fight is going to end in a submission or a knockout.. No fighter has a 100% finishing rate, We all try and end our fights as best we can and unfortunately that doesn't always happen. With that being said, I understand the point he's making, and I think we should always try and finish our opponents rather than settling for a decision-- but I mean who really trains to win a decision? I don't think theres anybody out there going, "Yeah, I'm gonna try and beat this guy in a decision.."Everyone is trying to win, everyone's trying to do their best. At the same time, you're fighting against someone who's fighting back, and it isn't that easy to finish someone- we're all pro fighters. I'll put myself on the other end of that question, I'm not gonna let my opponent beat me. I'm gonna do that same thing...It's just a cliche at the end of the day.
|George, working to pass Pellegrino's guard.|
CMMA: Not looking past Lauzon, but how do you see yourself matching up with the Champ, Edgar, in a future match up?
GS: I think I would do well against Edgar, I think my boxing, my grappling would be very strong against his. And that's not taking anything away from him, hes very competent, that's why he's the champ and I think I'm equally competent against that guy.
CMMA: Speaking of your boxing, obviously it's been something that you've been working very hard on. Growing up, were you a fan of boxing at all and who was your favorite fighter?
GS: I wasn't really a big fan of boxing, although I did like boxing-- I loved watching fights. Growing up obviously, Mike Tyson was the baddest man on the planet at the time, with his knockouts and aggressive style, and there were a few Australian boxers I'd always see on TV at the time , But I didn't really follow boxing closely, and I didn't follow to many sports closely either. I wasn't a fan of really anybody-- I was a fan of fighting.
CMMA: Who's the first MMA fighter you remember watching who may have inspired you?
GS: I'd have to say Royce Gracie.. watching the first UFC's-- watching Royce with the Gi and seeing the effectiveness of grappling, and thinking "I gotta get into this sport." I started with jiu jitsu, I told myself I'd start with that sport, get good at that sport, and as MMA was evolving, so did I and I evolved with it and tried to be a competent , well rounded fighter. I saw the effectiveness of grappling, I saw the effectiveness of wrestling, I saw the effectiveness of boxing and muay thai, and I try to take a page out of everyone's book and put it into mine.
CMMA: What was the toughest fight of your career?
GS: I think they're all tough, it's how you make it, it's how serious you take it and how serious you perceive the fight to be. I think every fight is the biggest fight of my life, and my career, so that makes them all tough.
CMMA: Who do you think is the greatest of all time in MMA?
GS: Hard to say... there are so many great champions right now in the UFC, they bring so many great attributes to the sport, and you could make a case for any of them. I don't think there's the greatest, you can be amongst the greatest but because there are so many people on the planet, and so many weight divisions that it would be hard to say that any one is better than the other. I think there are guys in every division, and you could make a case for everyone of them.
CMMA: You've fought all over the world, including a bout against Shinya Aoki, how do you see a rematch going with the Tobikan Judan?
GS: I think I would do really well against Aoki, I think we've both evolved and we've both made names for ourselves and will continue to make names for ourselves and I'd love to get the rematch with Aoki --- I think I'd do really well against him.
CMMA: You're one of the few guys in MMA who uses the rubber guard with such proficiency, why do you think that is and do you think we'll be seeing more of the rubber guard as the sport grows?
GS: Yeah, definitely. I think it'll be utilized a lot more, for sure. I think as the sport evolves, more people will use rubber guard... It's one of those things that's being adopted by several fighters, and that will multiply. It's a natural course of fighting, first people started off in one style, then they started cross training and adding two styles, now they're 3, 4 and so on. Everybody is adding tools to their arsenal, and its a natural course of evolution, it's human nature. People will evolve-- no matter what course, field, expertise or profession; people evolve and get better at what they do. The rubber guard is a great attribute to ground fighting so to ignore it would be foolish.
CMMA: If you weren't involved with Mixed Martial arts, what do you think you'd be doing?
GS: I don't know, I really don't know. I mean I went to school, went to University, had a couple of banking jobs.. had a few different jobs in a few different fields. I think I'd be working hard at whatever I did, that's the way I was raised and I think if you try hard at anything- you'll be in successful in anything. I think that's what I'd be doing, but I really couldn't tell you what I'd be doing. I could've been working at a bank, or working in a restaurant.. who knows.
CMMA: Lastly, we're hoping you could give us some predictions in some upcoming fights.
CMMA: Who do you got, Brock Lesnar or Cain Velasquez?
GS: It's not quite David vs. Goliath, but... Brock Lesnar IS a goliath... he's a giant and a beast. Velasquez, I think of the two fighters, he's more well rounded, I think he's got better striking, he's got equally good wrestling as Lesnar, probably better groundwork than Lesnar--- probably better off his back than Lesnar. I know he's training with Dave Camarillo at American Kickboxing Academy. I know he grapples, but then again so does Brock Lesnar, but I think Velasquez is the more technical of the two, and I think Brock Lesnar is the machine-- the more powerful fighter of the two. You can almost say it's going to be power versus technique, but any fight with Lesnar is going to be power versus technique. Both fighters are getting better, both fighters are winning, both are on the rise so it's hard to call it. I think it's going to come down to those attributes, power of Lesnar versus the skill of Velasquez, but those guys are machines. They really are machines, both of them.
CMMA: How about GSP/Koscheck?
GS: Again, both guys are great wrestlers, Koscheck likes to swing wild on his feet, I think St. Pierre is more calculated and cautious, but I think he's got a great approach to the fight... anybody can win. I think both guys are certainly capable of winning that fight.
CMMA: Thank you so much for the time George, thanks for getting on the phone and helping us out with the interview.
GS: You're welcome.
|Sotiropoulos vs. Dent|