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Intelligent, unique MMA analysis
Once upon a time… many moons ago… George Sotiropoulos was a title contender in the UFC lightweight division. He won his first seven fights in the UFC, four by submission and one by TKO. I remember suggesting that the UFC have Sotiropoulos fight Jim Miller in a top contender match. It seems like just yesterday…
Going on a three-fight losing streak has changed things. Sotiropoulos was shut down by Dennis Siver, then knocked out by Rafael Dos Anjos, and most recently was knocked out by Ross Pearson. Sotiropoulos has been exposed to have a bad chin and weak takedown offense. He has genuine Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills but lacks the well-rounded arsenal needed to win at a high level.
Here’s the good news: Sotiropoulos will be taking on K.J. Noons at UFC 166. Noons has decent offensive striking but he gets tagged a lot himself. He has been taken down 24 times despite facing a lot of strikers. He has landed just four knockdowns in 594 significant strikes.
Noons is a great opponent for Sotiropoulos because he’s not good at countering what Sotiropoulos should want to do. Sotiropoulos should be aggressive in going for takedowns and as much as he’s struggled to land them against opponents like Pearson, he’s still landed 2.53 takedowns per 15 minutes at 34 percent accuracy. That’s not great but it should be good enough to get Noons down.
Even if Sotiropoulos can’t take Noons down for some reason he should still be competitive standing. Noons has actually absorbed more significant strikes than he’s landed overall, although I’m sure all the times he’s been taken down have something to do with that. Sotiropoulos has a positive significant strike differential and could plausibly battle Noons in a striking match – mostly because Noons has such poor defense.
The best chance Noons has of winning is to thwart the takedowns and perhaps win by knockout. Sotiropoulos has been knocked down six times in 221 significant strikes. That gives him the worst chin in the UFC lightweight division. Noons is not a knockout artist by any means but there is a decent chance of him finishing Sotiropoulos by strikes.
Overall, I don’t have enough faith in the ability of Noons to keep Sotiropoulos from taking him down. I think Sotiropoulos will get Noons to the ground, where his superior ground skills should carry him to his first UFC win in nearly three years.
Pick: George Sotiropoulos by submission