KOP 57: Lee Siersma Determined To Make His Name In MMA
The Michigan-based welterweight is no stranger to adversity created by a physical adversary, but the level of difficulty experienced thus far as a pro has required some adjustments to be made. And while Siersma admits some of those lessons initially caught him off guard at first, the steps have been taken to ensure lessons learned will be applied moving forward.
"I had a lot of success in the amateur ranks tapping people out. I'm a submission artist and wrestler so I got my start on the ground. I'm now making the transition to fighting on the feet and I'm getting better and more comfortable there. My striking is getting stronger.
"I'm getting comfortable in there to the point where getting hit doesn't faze me. I'll eat punches and keep moving forward until there's nothing left inside to give. I know I have that in me now and it's helping my striking develop that much more."
Listening to Siersma describe his education inside the cage evoked thoughts of the blood and guts, blue-collar grit we've seen find success in the UFC for years. As it would turn out, there was one Hall of Famer in particular who sparked "The Lumberjack's" inspiration for fighting for the jump.
"The fighter who really influenced me was Forrest Griffin," Siersma said. "I'm not sure why to be honest, but I always felt a connection watching him fight. In my mind I knew I wanted to be where he's at some day."
And when it comes to a guaranteed scrap the likes of what Griffin would bring, that's what Siersma promises will be on deck at KOP 57 Saturday night on FloCombat. In the main event of the card he will face heated rival Erick Lozano in a trilogy bout that is highly anticipated on the regional scene.
There's certainly no love lost between the two men as they've split their previous matchups one apiece, but the tension that exists between Siersma and Lozano is more than competitive. It's personal.
"That's on him," Siersma said in regard to the start of his feud with Lozano. "He walked up and threw a tee shirt at me that said "Bitch slap the Lumberjack" and that's how it all started.
"I beat him in the first fight and he asked to fight me again. I was down to do it so we fought. I ended up not doing so well in the second fight and he won the fight on the cards. I had some injuries I was trying to get through and unable to train to my full capacity for the fight. This fight will be different though.
"I have a ninety-nine percent chance of beating him any night we fight," he added. "On that last night he got me on that one percent. It won't happen again."
The success of KOP is proof the fight scene in Michigan is growing, and the progress made has opened the doors for those dedicated to MMA to push toward making their living throwing hands and feet inside the cage.
For an athlete like Siersma who wanted to continue on, but didn't want to go the collegiate route, the cage has provided opportunities no other route could offer. Opportunities he intends to make the most of as he works toward bringing his dreams to reality.
"I have always loved sports but didn't want to go to college and carry that debt. I loved to wrestle but the next step of that was college so that was out. Same with football. I didn't have to go to college to fight and that's why I chose it. I'll fight anyone at anytime. It goes back to what I said about ninety-nine percent chance. I truly believe I have the ability to beat anyone they put in the cage with me.
"MMA is getting big here in Michigan," he added. "I think there are going to be a lot of the up-and-coming fighters who are competing now who make it to the big stages. I'm definitely one of those fighters. I want make it as big as I can and make a name in this sport."