Titan FC 32‘s Steven Siler on being cut by the UFC: “Desmond Green is going to have to pay for it.”
I catch “Super” Steven Siler about an hour after his final workout of the day. He’s relaxing at home with his wife, Mary, and six-month-old son, Jaiden, and taking in the Cowboys vs. Bears game at friend’s house he’s renting out while training at The Lab in Glendale, AZ. His Titan Fighting Championship debut at Titan FC 32—a featherweight title tilt against powerful wrestler Desmond “The Predator” Green, who is coming off a 46-second knockout win over former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres—is a little over two weeks away.
Siler first rose to notoriety on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Bisping vs. Team Miller, his unassuming demeanor and appearance—far more Joe Lauzon than Houston Alexander—had many, Dana White included, believing that the outcome of his qualifying fight against Micah Miller was all but a foregone conclusion. He instead was among the biggest revelations of the show, turning in a hardnosed performance that marked him a dark horse in the competition. And although he eventually lost to runner-up Diego Brandao, he made a big enough impression that the UFC invited the 5’11” Utahan and The Pit Elevated Fight Team member to fight in the finale. He won that, and two subsequent times afterwards (including a unanimous decision win over Micah’s brother, Cole, briefly earning him the moniker “The Miller Killer”). Then things got rocky.
He lost once, won twice more and then hit a three-fight losing skid that saw him get cut from the UFC. According to him, the last two losses hurt the worst. In March, referee Wernei Cardosa pulled a rabid Rony “Jason” Bezarra off a dazed-but-still-there Siler, who immediately went into protest mode. Four months later, he dropped a unanimous decision to Noad Lahat and just like that—poof!—he was suddenly unemployed.
“[In the Rony Jason fight,] I was all the way there,” he says. “I felt really good that night, actually. I felt like I was going to be on. I shouldn’t have lost the fight. I see exactly what I did—I was just showing my jab and making him able to time that overhand right. I should have never let him hit me, even drop me—give him the chance. But I was definitely still there. He even pulled me aside in the locker room and said, ‘I saw your eyes man; I knew you were still there.’
“That was disappointing, but I feel that, with the Noad Lahat fight, the UFC was trying to throw me a bone. It was a fight I should win 10 out of 10 times. I’m way better than he is. I know that. But my heart wasn’t into that fight and, even after the first round, I went to my corner and literally told my coach, ‘I just don’t want to be here right now.’ And he looked at me like, ‘I hope you catch on soon.’ The second round, I began picking up and by the third I felt I was on, but I waited too long to get there. The fact I lost that fight is inexcusable, so I wouldn’t say I deserved to get cut, but I can definitely see where the UFC’s coming from.
“Literally that whole camp, my head wasn’t into it. I don’t know if I got thick-headed, thinking, ‘Why did they give me Noad Lahat? I’m going to smash him. He’s not even in my league.’ I wasn’t motivated in training—the whole time. It was the first fight after having my baby and I was more worried about rushing home after training than with the training itself. There were a lot of things going on during that camp and once the UFC cut me it hit me. ‘Oh shit… they just cut me!’ It destroyed my dreams. Maybe that was something that needed to happen. Maybe now Desmond Green is going to have to pay for it and, once I get back into the UFC, those guys are going to have to pay for it.”
And yes, despite the prospect of Titan gold, Siler is very clear about his intent on returning to the UFC before the end of 2015. They’ve been great to him, he maintains, and getting an immediate title shot is “pretty cool,” but, as far as he’s concerned, the UFC is and will always be his true home.
“I’m definitely not done with the UFC. I want to be back as soon as possible. Until then, Titan’s a great place to be. They’re the third-best organization right now, I feel. They’re surpassing the World Series of Fighting, even, because of the fact that World Series is dropping all of their guys. They dropped Burkman. They dropped Carl. They dropped [Georgi] Karakhanyan. They dropped a lot of their star power, so I think Titan’s moving up past them. I figure if Titan’s the third-best organization and I’m on top there, they’ll let me go back to the UFC when the UFC’s willing to take me.”
First things first, though: he has to get past a stiff test in Desmond Green, who looked simply outstanding in his last outing. The former Bellator MMA competitor is 4-1 in his last five fights, with two striking-related stoppages. Siler, who has competed multiple times a year since he made his pro debut back in 2005 in the first bout of the evening at Ultimate Combat Experience 14 (he received no formal training until he was four fights deep into his career and still holds no belts ranking), believes that his considerable experience will afford him an edge over a comparatively Green, who will celebrate his third year in the sport in April.
“He hasn’t been in the game as long—he’s not as experienced as I am,” he says. “I know he’s going to make a mistake. I know how tough he is. I’ve seen how good his wrestling is. He’s very athletic. He seems tough as could be, but he hasn’t fought anyone like me. He’s been in Bellator… well, I’ve fought Cole Miller, Mike Brown… I’ve fought the tougher names. He’s going to make a mistake and I’m going to capitalize on it. I’ve been around too long not to. I know I’m going to get a finish this fight. I’m just excited to get in the cage and show everyone what I’m made of.”
That nickname… “Super.” Kinda dorky, right? I’d always wondered why Siler opted to go with such a silly nom de guerre and, being an ardent opportunist, I had to ask…
“I actually hated it a first, to tell you the truth. I was embarrassed by it. When I first started fighting, for Ultimate Combat Experience, they made every fighter have a nickname and they actually changed mine for the first four fights—they gave me different ones each time. I think “Simply Spectacular” was one. Finally, after the fourth one, they went with “Super” and just kept on using it. Eventually—so many people kept making fun of me for it or kept referring to me by that—it actually really caught on, to the point where my roommate’s little daughter and numerous training partners refer to me as nothing but “Super.” So now, it’s kind of become my name. It’s definitely taken a personal place with me now. I may’ve been embarrassed by it at first, but now I’m attached to it.”
Follow “Super” Steven Siler on Twitter HERE or like him on Facebook HERE. Titan Fighting Championship 32, taking place this Friday, December 19, at The Tsongas Center in Lowell, MA. The prelims will stream live at 8 p.m. ET on CBSSports.com, while the main card airs live on CBS Sports Network. For more information, click HERE.
A freelance MMA, entertainment and business journo born, raised and residing in Miami, FL, Jesse Scheckner is a musician, cinephile and recovering ne’er-do-well who still believes Mickey Rourke’s finest days in film have yet to come. He isTuffGnarl.com‘s editor-in-chief. Follow him on Twitter: @JesseScheckner.
(Slider Image property of Esther Linn/MMAFighting.com)