McGregor will take on Siver in America's Dublin, Boston, where the winner could be next up for a featherweight title shot but which of these fighters is the best choice to add to our UFC picks?
Dennis Siver (22-9, 5 KO's. 9 Subs)
The 36-year-old Dennis Siver was tearing through the UFC lightweight division winning nine of 10 matches until he knuckled up against one of the most ferocious competitors at 155 pounds and met Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone. That put an abrupt end to his reign of terror back in October of 2011 and caused his camp to reassess and chart a new course. Since that first round submission loss Siver has dropped down to the featherweight category where he reeled off decision victories over Diego Nunes and Nam Phan. It was then that he ran into a top 145-pound contender in Cub Swanson that he succumbed via TKO in the third round but earned Fight of the Night honors.
Siver rebounded with a decision over Manny Gamburyan as a -300 favorite in UFC odds but that victory was overturned and ruled a no contest when Siver tested positive for hCG. The rugged Russian then claimed a victory in his last outing over promotional newcomer Charles Rosa in what turned out to be a more difficult contest than he or anyone had anticipated.
Conor McGregor (16-2, 14 KO's, 1 Sub)
There is not a more electric or eclectic personality in the UFC today than Conor McGregor. He is bold, brash and brazen not only when he critiques his opponents and points out not only why they can't beat him but how he will beat them. McGregor's kicks look as though they were choreographed straight out of an action movie. Carlos Condit may be the only other fighter who throws kicks with the same poetry in motion aesthetic but Conor McGregor is not only throwing this pretty poison but landing it in devastating fashion.
McGregor combines an arsenal comprised of the usual suspects being BJJ, Tae Kwon Do and Kickboxing but perhaps what sets him apart from all the rest is his training in Capoeira. It is a Brazilian based martial art with African influences using avoidance versus blocking when possible, while striking can come in a variety of forms. Oftentimes you will see McGregor take a deliberate step forward like a Sumo stamping as he enters the dohyo. But that inelegant almost slightly clumsy approach sets the stage for a wily whirling dervish who wreaks havoc in the Octagon.
The pride of Dublin has not lost an MMA match in over four years and since entering the UFC has won all four contests with a pair earning him Performance of the Night bonuses while another copped Knockout the Night. Installed as a -235 favorite over top 10 featherweight Dustin Poirier in his last outing, McGregor talked the talk and then proceeded to walk the walk with an opening round TKO over the never-before KO'ed Poirier.
UFC Picks & UFC Odds
The only wrap on McGregor before he throttled Dustin Poirier was that he had not really fought anyone of substance. Prior to that he had tangled only thrice in the UFC and the only fighter who posed a threat, Max Holloway, took him to the judge's scorecards. But after McGregor swarmed, dominated and destroyed Poirier the verdict is now in. Conor McGregor is for real and Dennis Siver is merely a stepping stone to a much bigger fight with a top three opponent (Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar or Cub Swanson) or even a title shot against the invincible Jose Aldo.
The UFC odds are prohibitive on McGregor. He walks into this one as a -1000 favorite with a return of roughly +850 on Siver. The 36-year-old Siver may have an opportunity if he can get McGregor to the mat but if he stands and trades it should be a very short night. Both of McGregor's losses came early in his career and both came via submission. That is the only chance I see for Siver but McGregor has a decent takedown defense and Siver is running out of gas at this stage of his career.
Free UFC Pick: McGregor by TKO