The UFC heads to Gold Coast, Australia this Friday headlined with a matchup of the coaches of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes in Ross Pearson vs George Sotriopoulos. Based in the land down under, this version of the Ultimate Fighter pitted Aussie fighters against UK fighters.
The coaches match promises to be interesting. Both are competent stand up fighters, Sotriopoulos is a rangy boxer while Pearson is more compact and prefers a dirty boxing game. The big difference is in their grappling games, Sotriopoulos is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and trains with Eddie Bravo in his 10th Planet no gi system. As a result the Australian is a submission ace, while Pearson's grappling has been an achilles heel for much of his career. This is anyone's fight on the feet, but Pearson did struggle with the long reach of Cole Miller so it is possible Sotriopoulos could replicated that succes. On the ground Sotriopoulos has a clear edge and should be able to finish Pearson.
The most anticipated fight on this card however has nothing to do the Smashes. American Top Team fighter Hector Lombard was a member of the Cuban Olympic Judo team until he defected to Australia. When Lombard became involved in Mixed Martial Arts he moved to Florida to train and has developed into one of the top Middleweights in the world with strong grappling and natural one-punch knockout power. Facing Lombard is Rousimar Palhares, who is a hyper aggressive grappler with a passion for leg locks. Lombard's judo background gives him strong standing grappling and if he keeps this fight on the feet he will likely knock Palhares out, but even a few seconds on the mat is long enough for Palhares to lock on a fight ending heel hook.
Main Card (FX, 9 pm ET)
Ross Pearson vs. George Sotiropoulos
Hector Lombard vs. Rousimar Palhares
Brad Scott vs. Robert Whittaker - TUF: The Smashes WW Final
Colin Fletcher vs. Norman Parke - TUF: The Smashes LW Final
Preliminary Card (FUEL TV, 6 pm ET)
Joey Beltran vs. Igor Pokrajac
Seth Baczynski vs. Mike Pierce
Ben Alloway vs. Manuel Rodriguez
Brendan Loughnane vs. Mike Wilkinson
Cody Donovan vs. Nick Penner
Then on Saturday the 16th season of The Ultimate Fighter (USA) comes to an end in Las Vegas. Coach Shane Carwin was forced to pull out due to injury and Blackzilians fighter Matt Mitrione has stepped in to fight former TUF champion Roy Nelson. This is Mitrione's first fight in over a year, focusing on rounding out his skill-set. Nelson is a heavyweight gate-keeper and will likely exploite Mitrione's lack of experience on the ground.
Also on this card is a match up of Florida fighters in Miami's own Jonathan Brookins and American Top Team's Dustin Poirier. Both of these men are excellent grapplers and are dynamic when in pursuit of submissions and it promises to be an exciting match.