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UFC 123 Preview: George Sotiropoulos vs. Joe Lauzon

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Can Joe Lauzon step up and pick up the biggest win of his career when he faces George Sotiropoulos in a featured fight of UFC 123?
Can Joe Lauzon step up and pick up the biggest win of his career when he faces George Sotiropoulos in a featured fight of UFC 123?

Two rising lightweights meet when George Sotiropoulos meets Joe Lauzon in a featured bout at "UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida." Here is MMA For Real's preview of the fight:

George Sotiropoulos:

Record: 13-2-0 overall, 6-0-0 UFC

Key wins: Joe Stevenson (UFC 110), Kurt Pellegrino (UFC 116)

Key losses: Kyle Noke (Warriors Realm 4), Shinya Aoki (Shooto: Champion Carnival)

How he got here: After a stint on "The Ultimate Fighter 6," (where his run was ended by Tommy Speer by knockout in the semifinals) George Sotiropoulos has made a big splash in 2010, bursting onto the scene with main card wins against both Joe Stevenson and Kurt Pellegrino. The 33-year old Sotiropoulos has been a world traveler and has won all six of his UFC fights and 10 of his last 11, the only loss being a disqualification loss against Shinya Aoki in October 2006. Sotiropoulos started his UFC career as a welterweight but moved to lightweight following an 18-month injury layoff. He is 4-0 at lightweight in the promotion.

How he gets it done: Sotiropoulos is a jiu-jitsu fighter through and through. A black belt, Sotiropoulos has won seven of his 13 fights by submission to go along with five decisions and one TKO. Sotiropoulos has shown a preference to work the arms, as five of those seven submissions have been via some sort of armlock. The other two have come via rear-naked choke. Of his two losses, one is by split decision and the other by DQ.

Did you know?: Six of Sotiropoulos' 13 wins have come against fighters who have appeared on "The Ultimate Fighter" at one point or another. His total number of fights against "TUF" veterans will increase to eight when he faces Lauzon.

Joe Lauzon:

Record: 19-5-0 overall, 6-2-0 UFC

Key wins: Mike Brown (CZ 8), Jens Pulver (UFC 63), Jeremy Stephens (UFC Fight Night 17)

Key losses: Kenny Florian (UFC Fight Night 13), Sam Stout (UFC 108)

How he got here: Joe Lauzon's UFC career started out with a bang, as he knocked out lightweight prodigal son Jens Pulver in less than a minute at UFC 63. From there, it was on to "The Ultimate Fighter 5" for Lauzon, where he fell in the show's semifinals. Lauzon suffered his first UFC defeat at the hands of Kenny Florian in April 2008, but has won three of his last four, including a dominating performance against Gabe Ruediger at UFC 118 in August.

How he gets it done: Lauzon has 19 wins. Fifteen of them have come by submission. The other four have come by KO or TKO. That's impressive. Of his five losses, two have come by TKO, two by submission and one by decision. As an opponent, Sotiropoulos can't allow Lauzon to get rolling. As we've seen in two of Lauzon's UFC fights (Jason Reinhardt, Ruediger), once Lauzon gets going, he is extremely difficult to stop and has the ability to plow through you. Lauzon is competent standing and slick on the ground.

Did you know?: Lauzon has received a "fight night bonus" in his last three fights. He won Submission of the Night honors against Jeremy Stephens and Ruediger and Fight of the Night honors for his scrap with Sam Stout.

Bottom line: This is an interesting fight between two fighters who like to ply their craft on the ground. A lot is riding on this fight for Sotiropoulos, as he could position himself as the next contender (following the Ben Henderson/Anthony Pettis winner) for the UFC lightweight title. If Lauzon wins, it'll be the biggest win of his career and one to put him on the next tier of competition. This will be a good fight that Sotiropoulos will take by decision.

Who do you think's going to win? Let us know in the poll and express why in the comments section!

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