UFC 123: Could George Sotiropoulos Be the Next Lightweight Champion?
George Sotiropoulos will look to make an even more compelling case that he should be next in line for a lightweight championship fight when he takes on Joe Lauzon at UFC 123 on Saturday. Sotiropoulos has been with UFC for nearly three years and has compiled a perfect 6-0 record.
Given his talent level and the fact that he is running through the competition, it seems to be just a matter of time before he gets his shot at the UFC lightweight championship.
I must confess that I have not seen any of Sotiropoulos' fights outside of UFC, so these thoughts are based on his last three years of professional fighting. He uses a strong, solid stand-up game to be able to take his opponent to the ground and will use punches and elbows to set up his good submission technique.
He started out on Season 6 of The Ultimate Fighter and defeated Billy Miles in the finale. He defeated Roman Mitichyan via TKO at UFC Fight Night in April 2008 for his only victory via TKO as a professional.
Injuries forced Sotiropoulos out of action for a year-and-a-half. When he came back in August 2009, he moved to the lightweight division and has been making his way through the ranks there, too. He got two wins after his comeback against journeymen fighters George Roop and Jason Dent.
Sotiropoulos has moved onto better competition and hasn't missed a beat. He fought Joe Stevenson at UFC 110, where the two put on a terrific display of ground fighting. It was a great performance by both men and Sotiropoulos clearly won the fight, with the judges agreeing by unanimously scoring it 30-27.
At UFC 116, he fought Kurt Pellegrino and once again got the judges decision. It was an impressive showing from Sotiropoulos as he was able to strike and use the ground to attack Pellegrino, even when Pellegrino appeared to have the advantage. Sotiropoulos was able to throw strikes and land elbows. All this led to Sotiropoulos getting a unanimous decision victory.
Sotiropoulos comes into UFC 123 needing a victory over Lauzon in order to get the fight that he and his crew feel that he has earned. It will be a while before he is able to get his fight, assuming he wins Saturday, because Gray Maynard has the next shot at champion Frankie Edgar that will take place on the New Year's show.
But one thing is certain: George Sotiropoulos has staked his claim to become the next great lightweight fighter in UFC. After UFC 123 he should have his eyes set on either Gray Maynard or Frankie Edgar.