steven-siler-8.jpgSteven Siler wants you to know he’s not the crummy wrestler you think he is.

Yeah, he knows you saw his fight against Darren Elkins about a year ago, in which the Indiana high school state champion wrestler took him down and kept him down en route to a unanimous decision.

And yeah, he knows that Dennis Bermudez is a pretty sharp wrestler, too. But if you think he doesn’t have skills on the ground, he believes you might be in for a surprise tonight.

“People say Darren Elkins set the blueprint, but that was just a slip-up on my part – I’m not that bad of a wrestler,” Siler told MMAjunkie.com Radio.

Siler (23-10 MMA, 5-1 UFC) meets Bermudez (11-3 MMA, 4-1 UFC) on tonight’s “UFC Fight Night 31: Fight for the Troops 3? card, which takes place at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Their preliminary-card fight airs on FOX Sports 1 ahead of the main card on the same channel.

“I feel good,” Siler said. “I had that one slip-up with Elkins where I came into the fight lazy and let him keep taking me down. It made me learn to fight the takedown a little harder and that I can’t just submit everyone from my back and made me become a better fighter than I was back then.”

Since that loss to Elkins, Siler has back-to-back wins over Kurt Holobaugh at UFC 159 in April and Mike Brown in August, the latter coming by way of a 50-second knockout in Boston.

Against Bermudez, he gets a fighter who is on a hot streak in the featherweight division. The Season 14 “TUF” runner-up has won four straight – the most recent two by split decision. But he has a “Submission of the Night” bonus in there, as well as a “Fight of the Night” for his split call over Matt Grice in February.

Plus, Siler and Bermudez trained together under Jason Miller on Season 14 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” As teammates, they know a thing or two about each other, which could make things intriguing once the fight starts.

“It’s going to be a good fight,” Siler said. “We were able to train together inside ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ house, and that’s going to make it a little more interesting. I think it makes it more of a great fight because he knows what I’m good at and I know what he’s good at.”

And some of what he’s been good at comes on the ground. That’s when Siler gets into his never fear mode.

If Bermudez, let alone the fans, underestimate his wrestling, they could get that aforementioned surprise. Bermudez is a slight favorite in the fight with the oddsmakers, coming in around -150.

“I’m prepared for wherever this fight goes, and I feel like I have the advantage everywhere,” Siler said. “He hasn’t fought a guy like me who’s able to jump on him and finish him. I know I’m going to finish the fight and he’s not going to be able to recover like he has in other fights. I fought Joey Gambino, who was a pretty good wrestler, and a lot of good wrestlers where I was able to defend the takedown.”

Wherever it winds up, Siler believes UFC President Dana White and the powers-that-be can fill out one of the post-fight bonus checks now. And in a perfect world, he can fill out a second one after the show, as well.

“I think this is going to be one of the most fun fights (on the card),” he said. “I’m already counting on the ‘FIght of the Night’ bonus. I just want the knockout or submission bonus to go with it.”

For the latest on UFC Fight Night 31, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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