The Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden hosts the UFC’s second installment of UFC on Fuel TV this Saturday with UFC on Fuel 2: Gustafsson vs. Silva. The bantamweights start off the main card as “The Angel of Death” Damacio Page (15-6) clashes with “One Punch” Brad Pickett (20-6). Ultimate Fighter alumni “The Darkness” DaMarques Johnson (15-9) takes on fellow welterweight “The One” John Maguire (17-3). Paulo Thiago (14-3) is charged with the task of welcoming long awaited prospect “The Killer” Siyar Bahadurzada (20-4-1) in his UFC debut in the welterweight division. In the co-main event, “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-8) and “The All-American” Brian Stann (11-4) are set to engage in a middleweight match-up. Thiago Silva (14-2) makes his return to action after a year long lay-off to take on the hometown hero, “The Mauler” Alexander Gustafsson (13-1) in the main event. In the middle of all this action, two featherweights are set to meet when “The Gun” Diego Nunes (17-2) welcomes Dennis Siver (19-8) from the lightweight division. With both men being strikers at heart who refuse to back down, it is a fight that all will be dying to watch.
At First Glance: Diego Nunes’ and Dennis Siver’s names have become synonymous with exciting fights and with Siver treading the 145lbs. division for the first time, pairing these two together is a dream match-up for all MMA fans to see. Nunes has been a dynamo in the featherweight ranks dating back to his tenure in the WEC. Working off a three-round war with “Ken-Flo” Kenny Florian (14-6) and a recent Unanimous Decision victory over “The Anvil” Manny Gamburyan (11-7), Nunes is looking to claw his way back within reach for title contention. Siver makes the journey down in weight classes after a heartbreaking defeat at UFC 137. He had made a respectable three-fight win streak that saw him take on promising prospects in the lightweight division but when the time for contention came, “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (17-4) kept him grounded with a first-round submission defeat. Siver now is seeking to reestablish himself within the UFC at 145lbs. and with wins over “Handsome” Matt Wiman (14-6) and “Sots” George Sotiropoulos (14-4), he might find his home if he can do so at Nunes’ expense.
In Depth: While both have their own respective ground game, it is unlikely that these two combatants will look to settle the fight on the mat. The Brazilian, Nunes, is a Muay Thai aficionado who uses variety of kicks at all levels to keep the fight at length and away from danger. Teeps, front kicks, roundhouses, axe kicks, the whole nine yards: Nunes will throw a leg with the hopes of connecting and inflicting damage all while remaining just outside of any harm himself. In his last outing against Manny Gamburyan, “The Gun” was able to negate much of his foe’s striking and signature Judo game with a series of leg kicks to weaken his stance and push him backward. Nunes’ efficiency on the feet grants him some leniency in being able to have reckless moments characterized by winging punches, turning back kicks, and spinning backfists when he opts to press forward. A storied kickboxer, Siver is no stranger to fighting strikers. He is an effective counter-striker but his compact frame will not do him favors if he cannot bait Nunes to charge him. That said, it will be imperative for him to cover ground quickly and effectively. When up close and personal, Siver’s hands are more likely to find a home just as they did on George Sotiropoulos’ chin multiple times at UFC 127. Nunes’ tendency to swing wild inside and hang his hands low will yield opportunities for Siver to land those shots. Of course Siver’s patented spinning back kick is his ace in the hole; should Nunes not find a way to cleanly counter it, Siver can use it to close the distance and set-up combinations that may result in an early night for “The Gun”.
Wild Card: With a new weight division to test, Siver’s ability to cut down to 145lbs. is the definite variable in this match-up. Siver carries a significant amount of muscle on his stocky frame and with the hardship a fighter endures with the diet change and water weight lost leading to fight night, it is unknown how significant those extra 10lbs. will be on him. Ideally, Siver dropping down a weight class grants him an early strength advantage but if the cut took its toll, he will not be able to hold it for long, putting him point blank in front of whatever shots “The Gun” wants to shoot.
The Verdict: The match-up between these two men is a stylistically entertaining match-up no fan will be disappointed to see. Siver when on the attack is an animal and when Nunes insists on coming forward, he comes full blast. To say who would have the definitive advantage striking is debatable but now that Siver can fully enjoy a size advantage in the featherweight ranks, he should find his home easily in the division. The fight will go back-and-forth with each man landing their fair share of blows but Siver should be able to come out on top on the scorecards. Siver via Split Decision