UFC 123 Preview Part Two: Joe Lauzon vs. George Sotiropoulos

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Anytime you take two divisions and merge them into one there are going to be more losers than winners. Sure, maybe some of that pressure will eventually be alleviated by the UFC’s soon to arrive Flyweight division but for now George Sotiropoulos (13-2;1KO, 7SUB) stands alone as the biggest loser in the UFC/WEC deal. He all of a sudden finds himself forced to beat Joe Lauzon (19-5; 4KO, 15SUB) Saturday night not for a shot at the title but rather just to keep hope alive that maybe one day, once all of the dust settles, he’ll get a chance to prove that he is the best.

After a respectful turn on season 6 of The Ultimate Fighter George Sotiropoulos has done nothing but exceed expectations and skyrocket to the top of the division. He’s riding a 7 fight win streak (his last loss was to Shinya Aoki) including big wins this year over the highly touted Joe Stevenson and Kurt Pellegrino. Lauzon, for his part, has a lot more to gain and should arrive ready to play. He was last seen at UFC 118 winning Submission of the Night on national TV but as fate would have it it went totally unnoticed because everybody who was tuned in was still bitching about how boring the fight that came before was. Besides that victory over Gabe Ruediger Lauzon’s only other Octagon appearance this year came in a Fight of the Night loss to Sam Stout back in January, and it’s clear that Sotiropoulos represents a major step up in competition from those two. Perhaps a step that is just a tad too steep, but Lauzon enters the fight only a +180 underdog and it doesn’t take much of a history lesson to realize that in the world of MMA any fighter can beat any other fighter on any given night.

Unfortunately for him I do not see this as Lauzon’s given night. Obviously something of a grappler vs. striker battle will break out of the fight goes for any length of time. Lauzon hits harder, faster and better while Sotiropoulos is one of the absolute best on the ground. I don’t see the fight going very far however. With everybody in the world, Lauzon included, underestimating Sotiropoulos’ ability to hit I see him landing some fists or knees and landing himself in a full mount position early on then exploiting it to an early stoppage via strikes. Lauzon is out of his league here and a first round loss should send him back a few steps in the now bloated division where he rightfully belongs.

Pick: George Sotiropoulos via 1st Round TKO