Interview with Dennis Siver, the first German UFC fighter

Dennis Siver is one of the best european fighters in the featherweight class and the first German fighter ever to sign a contract with the UFC.

aerobis has been a partner for a while now. Next to former sponsoring we have recently equipped Dennis with functional training equipment like the aeroSling sling trainer and the blackPack ESY S sandbag. For June 20th, Siver’s next fight is scheduled at UFC Fight Night in Berlin. His opponent across the octagon will be Tatsuya Kawajiri.

We have asked him what role functional training plays in his training, what thoughts go through his mind right before a fight, and what he expects from his next fight and from himself.

MMA contains elements from very diverse martial arts like wrestling, jiu jitsu, karate or, as in your case, taekwondo and judo. How do you get all of this in one training day? Do you focus more on the fighting styles that you have been doing since before your MMA career or do you try to implement everything at least a bit?

Dennis Siver: I have to keep my training very flexible and reaching all across MMA. With judo alone, for example, you just can’t keep up. As the name suggests – mixed martial arts – you have to be ready in all aspects of the game. I train a lot wrestling, grappling, and of course stand up.

Dennis Siver trains with the blackPack ESY S sandbag by aerobis

What does a regular training day look like for Dennis Siver, how does a week look?

– shortly before a fight?

Siver: Training at least twice a day, 6 days a week.

– out of competition?

Siver: I like to grant my body a bit more resting periods but I train at least three times a week, plus cardio training.

How long does the preparation last for a fight? How long is the regeneration phase afterwards?

Siver: The last 8 to 6 weeks before a fight are normally the most intense, afterwards – depending on the fight and the injuries sustained during the fight – the regeneration can be quite long. Most of the times, though, I am back to the gym only a few days after the fight.

Functional training is a growing sector in today’s strength and fitness business. Why is this particular kind of training so important in MMA? Which equipment do you use to get ready for the challenges and demands inside the octagon?

Siver: It is a brutal full body workout, like MMA itself, and that’s why functional training fits our sport so well. I integrate functional training in the form of a circuit training and use sandbags, battle ropes, kettlebells, sling trainers, med balls, and free weights.

From your point of view: Why is functional training, or MMA-type training, not only relevant for professional athletes?

Siver: If you want to tone your whole body, become more fit overall, you should train more specialized. For this, I find the common gyms only suited to a certain degree because you mostly have machines that let you train individual muscles, not the body as a whole.

Do you curse your training from time to time and have to drag yourself to the gym? Is there any time for activities outside the gym?

Siver: I love my job and am thankful for every day. Of course I have a normal social life, although I have some limitations in certain areas like food, for example.

Many fighters also work as coaches in their gyms and pass on their experience to younger fighters. How about you? With over 30 fights in MMA alone you must have a wealth of experience to share.

Siver: I also work as a coach in my gym. It gives me great satisfaction when I see the progress of ‘my boys’.

Originally, you are coming from taekwondo, kick boxing, and judo. Why did you choose to change to MMA?

Siver: Back in the days, you could only see MMA fights on tape. The moment I saw a fight for the first time I knew I wanted to advance and get in the cage!

What is it that excites you about MMA personally and as an athlete?

Siver: The feeling that you have when you step into that cage in front of thousands of fans is great. I live and breathe this sport and I don’t do it to make money. It simply is a lot of fun and even though it might be unimaginable for some, I love it. Even though you have to invest a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

Do you think that you have to have certain character traits to be successful in MMA? To whom would you recommend becoming a MMA fighter? What requirements do you have to fulfill?

Siver: I can’t really say. There are athletes that are very ambitious and have a high amount of self-motivation. I think that is very important to work on the highest levels all the time.

Nevertheless, I can only recommend MMA for everyone: it is an awesome, fun training and a great escape from your job!

You were the first UFC-signed fighter from Germany and you have been part of the active roster for 8 years now. MMA is still relatively unknown in Germany, though. What would you tell young, aspiring fighters in Germany that want to make it to the UFC? How do you attract the attention of Dana White & co.?

Siver: First of all you have to fight on smaller events and prove yourself. If you can get about 10 wins with no or only a few losses you might have a chance. Only if you have beaten some good competition, of course.

Then you need a good, reliable management that pushes you and supports you 100% so you can completely focus on training and fighting. Being present in the media is also important. Today, the foundation has been laid in Germany. The Bild-Zeitung is fan of MMA, that says it all!

How are the conditions for German fighters compared to countries like the USA where MMA has reached a higher standing? Is it a locational disadvantage to live, train, and fight in Germany?

Siver: No, by now German fighters fight internationally. It used to be different, but nowadays it is no locational disadvantage to fight out of Germany.

What is going through your mind shortly before a fight?

Siver: I am very concentrated, rather focussed than nervous and I am looking forward to finally entering the cage.

Some fighters have said that it helps them if they develop some kind of hate for their opponents. How is it with you? You seem very calm in the octagon. Do emotions play a big role for you right before and during a fight?

Siver: For me, no. Of course, I would have liked to teach my most recent opponent a lesson [Conor McGregor, fight from January 1st, 2015, editor’s note] but unfortunately that didn’t work out. I have my emotions under control and see it as a fair athletic competition!

Your next fight against Tatsuya Kawajiri is scheduled in Berlin on June 20. What do you expect from this fight? What do you expect from yourself? Will we see one of your patented spinning back kicks?

Siver: A fight is always 50/50. One punch can end it all but I will be well prepared and leave it all in the octagon. And maybe a spinning back kick finds its target!

Thank you very much for the interview and lots of success in Berlin on June 20!

Siver: Thank you guys!

Oddly enough, the first fight that I have seen from Siver was exactly the fight that aerobis sponsored him for the first time, the bout in December 2012 against Nam Phan. At that time I didn’t work at aerobis yet and I wasn’t even aware that the company existed. What impressed me in that fight was Siver’s fighting style which was extremely fluid. He completely dominated the fight and chained one combination to another, no matter whether it was a kick or punch combination. I haven’t been following MMA or the UFC for long at that time but this fight really left a lasting impression. Since then I have been watching every event. And I work for aerobis. So for me, these elements all come together again with the event in Berlin on June 20.

I will be sitting in front of my TV on June 20 and watch the event in Berlin. I wish Dennnis and all the other fighters best of luck, that they don’t suffer any injuries, and show the world that Germany is a great place for the UFC! How is it with you? Will you be watching the event? Are you following the UFC (regularly) or are you even in Berlin for the event? Let me know in the comment section below!

Sportive greetings,

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