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Dennis Siver on Opponent Tatsuya Kawajiri: “He Was My Idol”

Dennis Siver on Opponent Tatsuya Kawajiri: “He Was My Idol”

Everyone likes a little trash talk here and there, right?

If you’re an old school fan, maybe you remember Renzo Gracie’s famous rant against opponent BJ Penn prior to their fight: “I was fighting while BJ was swimming in his daddy’s nut-sac!”

Sure, Gracie had a lot of respect for his opponent (despite what his brother Ralph had to say about him), but he wanted everyone to know who made their name in MMA first, too.

On the other hand, against Japanese pro wrestler Alexander Otsuka, Renzo eschewed any nasty remarks or braggadocio; offering his opponent an invite for chocolates after the fight. After winning a decision against Otsuka, Renzo remarked humbly, “If was the better fighter tonight, it’s only because I have training partners like him.”

Today, Dennis Siver faces Tatsuya Kawajiri in a pivotal featherweight bout at UFC Fight Night 69. You might expect some emotional pre-fight remarks from Siver, who will fight in his home country of Germany for the first time since 2010. But instead, it seems he can only express admiration for his opponent.

“I’m a huge fan of his and watched his fights religiously when I hadn’t even dreamed of becoming a professional MMA fighter,” Siver told UFC.com earlier this week. “He was my idol back in the day, and being able to fight him now is both an honor and a dream come true.”

Kawajiri was one of the stars of the early 2000’s Japanese MMA scene, where the sport had reached its peak in popularity.

Siver, on the other hand, began his MMA career in 2004; so his development has coincided with the rapid growth of the UFC.

“I know Vegas better than some cities in Germany by now,” he says. “The international expansion the UFC has had is also good for the growth of our sport. There is more up-and-coming talent in Europe alone than at any given point in the past and it’s mostly due to the UFC.”

The UFC Fight Night 69 main card begins at 3 pm ET, 12 noon PT today.

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