George Sotiropoulos: “The fighter’s definitely in me”

George Sotiropoulos will have the biggest fight of his career this Saturday when he takes on 17-7 Dennis Siver at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia. George is currently riding an 8 fight winning streak and would appear to be in the lightweight title mix if he can find a way to defeat his German opponent.

Siver, who has 6 wins in his last 7 fights will have to face Sotiropoulos on his home turf. The last time Sotiropoulos fought in his home land was one year ago, when he took home not only the win but “Fight of the Night” honors as well over the heavily favored Joe “Daddy” Stevenson.

MMANUTS.COM’s James Cahilellis had the honor to sit down with George and talk about his past successes and current training regimens.

He first asked him to talk about his educational background:

George Sotiropoulos: First I studied International trade at Victoria University and I received an Associates diploma in Business International Trade. I went on to study and get my Bachelors in Banking and Finance and International trade and then I finished up in 2001.

James Cahilellis: One of the things that I think everyone’s dying to know is what really led you from the suit and tie and the Banking and finance world to throwing on some gloves and stepping into the Octagon.

George Sotiropoulos: …I always loved fighting growing up. The fighter’s definitely in me. Anything to do with fighting, I watched and was obsessed over, and UFC was my calling. When I saw it on a VHS tape back in ’97 or ’96, I basically knew right there and then thats what I had to do. I was searching for a martial art, and not that MMA is a martial art per say, it’s a combination of martial arts and thats what I wanted to do. It answered and ended all arguments and debates over what was the best. Basically everything was the best. And that’s what I wanted to do. So, you know, off I went, and it basically took my whole life into a new direction.

James Cahilellis:And then speaking off MMA, the culmination of different martial arts, that’s exactly what you did, and if you look at your background you are the true definition of a mixed martial artist, you’ve done Boxing, Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You’ve been all around the world…How much more of an advantage do you think it gives you over a fighter who is just basically more based in just a central location?

George Sotiropoulos: I have a lot of experience, but that doesn’t necessarily mean an advantage over anybody else…If you have all the ingredients to be a mixed martial arts fighter and you practice them well, and it’s a daily practice and you’ve prepared yourself, then not necessarily an advantage. But, you know, I have a lot of experience in this field and this game, but thats the path I seeked out and that’s what helped lead me to where I am today. But if you can get everything in one spot and not have to travel then great, but it wasn’t the case for me.

James Cahilellis: Speaking still with MMA training, you were all over, your now at the Fisticuffs. If you can, just tell me a little about your coaches, your training partners.

George Sotiropoulos: Well firstly, I’ll start with Leonard Gabriel, he’s the owner and founder of Fisticuffs and he basically has spent his life in boxing. His family has been in boxing and obviously [he] evolved as a boxing trainer and practitioner over the course of his whole life. [He] learned his craft through his family and his Grandfather and through amateur boxing and professional boxing. He’s a very grounded, solid trainer and practitioner of boxing and he knows all the nuances and details and has great coaching methods to help with boxing. Working with Leonard basically led me move to Vancouver Washington. Now I’m a resident of that part of the world.

At the same time, I began training with Eddie Bravo. I met Eddie back in 2001 while training at the Machada’s in California. Later I would see him over the years and in 2003 we crossed paths and again in 2005 we went to Abu Dhabi together at the same event. I saw Eddie at a UFC in 2008, we got talking and I asked him if he would be into doing some training that day. He told me he was actually doing a seminar the next day and I asked him if I can come to it. He said come along and I went along. It was basically an introduction to the rubber guard and some half guard and twisted concepts and principles. I really enjoyed it and I wanted to work with Eddie for a long time… I headed out to LA a couple weeks later and did a week with Eddie and that would basically be the beginning of routine training for me… Eddie’s 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu is another important aspect of what I do.

Back home I also train with the guys at Impact Jiu-Jitsu…They help me with my preparation, they’re also a part of my coaching.

…That’s pretty much the basis of my training and my camp. I also spar with the guys over at Team Quest, I’ve got Matt Lindland to thank for that.

James Cahilellis:Last question. Going into a fight of this magnitude, something in which I think most people believe has the potential to be fight of the night, what’s your feelings going in and do you have any special routines or superstitions that you try and like to do on Saturday?

George Sotiropoulos: Well besides the “mati”. It’s the supreme Greek superstition, which is the evil eye. But besides the “mati”, no. I just basically go in there and I do my regular warm-up. I’m very regimented in what I do and I go through the stages of my warm-up from technique drilling to shadowing and pads. All the standard stuff you see most fighters doing.

James Cahilellis:Anyone you want to say thanks too?

George Sotiropoulos: I would like to thank Dethrone my sponsor, as well as GNC Australia, The Gun Store, Curtis and Crawford Watches. Basically Fisticuffs Boxing, 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, Impact Jiu-Jitsu as well as Team Quest. Thanks guys!