(courtesy Josh Hedges/Zuffa)
With the UFC’s expanding global influence, it was only a matter of time before George Sotiropoulos got his chance to fight in his home country of Australia.
That chance has arrived and Sotiropoulos will fight in front of his fellow Aussies as part of UFC 110: Nogueria vs. Velasquez, taking on lightweight stalwart Joe Stevenson.
Sotiropoulous has won all of his fights in the UFC — technically he lost during his stint on The Ultimate Fighter to Tommy Speer, but those are considered exhibition bouts and do not count towards his professional record. In his MMA career, he’s only lost twice — a split decision defeat to Kyle Noke in 2005 and a disqualification to DREAM lightweight champion Shinya Aoki in 2006.
He has finished his last five fights with four coming by way of submission. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to many of Sotiropoulous’ fans as he holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Australian John Will.
But that doesn’t mean Sotiropoulous is a one-dimensional fighter. He won an amateur boxing title in Victoria, Australia prior to starting his mixed martial arts career.
He is making his third fight at 155-pounds, after defeating Jason Dent and George Roop by second round submissions. In the fight against Roop at UFC 101, Sotiropoulous’ Jiu Jitsu was shown in full force, constantly passing Roop’s guard before nearly ripping Roop’s arm off with a brutal kimura.
His second fight at lightweight at UFC 106, Sotiropoulous’ Jiu Jitsu once again made the difference, eventually trapping Dent in an armbar.
Sotiropoulous’ first two fights in the Octagon were fought at welterweight where he defeated fellow cast-mates Billy Miles (Rear Naked Choke) and Roman Mitchiyan (TKO). He was supposed to fight Karo Parisyan at UFC 87, but he had to pull out to an injury. He suffered another injury, which forced him out of his fight Matt Grice at Ultimate Fight Night 17. In total, Sotiropoulous was on the shelf for 18 months, before reemerging with an impressive dissection of Roop.
In Stevenson, he faces probably the toughest test of his near six-year career. Stevenson has fought for the UFC lightweight title and is considered one of the top 155-pound fighters in the organization. Stevenson is riding a two-fight win streak, with most of his recent losses coming to elite level fighters such as Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian and B.J. Penn.
A victory over such a highly-ranked opponent would certainly start to put Sotiropoulous’ name into the title discussions and prove that the native Aussie is a force to be reckoned with in the lightweight division.