On a card populated by exciting lightweight bouts, the match between George Sotiropoulos and Joe Lauzon will be the first with implications in the title picture. Both fighters are Ultimate Fighter alumni and are rising to the top of the lightweight division. Recently, on the UFC 123 Countdown show, both fighters were profiled for the first time.
Sotiropoulos (13-2) is a perfect 6-0 in the UFC and has recently come into prominence after recent impressive wins over Joe Stevenson and Kurt Pellegrino. Sotiropoulos has been able to use his length and reach to keep his opponents at a distance standing and has patiently grappled offensively whenever the fight hits the ground to control his opponents and reverse any bad positions. Sotiropoulos put on a BJJ clinic against Joe Stevenson in particular at UFC 110 in front of his native Australian fans.
Lauzon (19-5) has always been a force in the lightweight division ever since he knocked out former champ Jens Pulver in his UFC debut. Lauzon primarily uses his Brazilian jiu jitsu but the Pulver knockout proved that he had power with his strikes as well. Lauzon suffered some setbacks against Kenny Florian and Tim Stout but his most recent performance, an incredible first round destruction of Gabe Ruediger at UFC 118 has him climbing back up the ladder in the division.
Lauzon stated that he feels Sotiropoulos plays it too safe in his fights, and that’s the reason for his lack of recent stoppages and he may very well be correct. Both men have excellent jiu jitsu backgrounds, but Lauzon is by far the more aggressive fighter. Will Lauzon’s aggressiveness come back to bite him tonight? We’ll just have to wait and see. Sotiropoulos controlled the tough wrestler Kurt Pellegrino at UFC 116, but he did get rocked and nearly knocked out in the last 30 seconds of the fight. Sotiropoulos also has age working against him. He’s 33 years old and his window for a UFC title is closing fast.
I still think Sotiropoulos has enough to stay undefeated but it may not be pretty.
Prediction: Georges Sotiropoulos via unanimous decision