Two coaches of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Smashes with a grudge to settle battled last night (Dec. 14, 2012) in the main event of UFC on FX 6 as TUF season nine winner Ross Pearson took on former title contender George Sotiropoulos in Gold Coast, Australia.
Neither lightweight liked each other very much, stemming back to some tense moments they had during the filming of "The Smashes" season, but the score was settled in a big way.
And "The Real Deal" scored perhaps the most significant victory of his young career with vicious third round knockout of Sotiropoulos. So how'd he do it?
Pearson was doing a good job of using angles in his attack early on, and a slick step-in right hand followed by a sharp left hook caught Sotiropoulos after the first minute, putting him on serious wobbly legs. Pearson continued to attack with heavy right hooks but Sotiropoulos survived by clinching to clear the cobwebs.
From this point on, Pearson was definitely head hunting and it cost him as he walked right into a solid jab from his Aussie foe and Sotiropoulos actually did a great job of shooting in and putting Pearson on the ground. When "The Real Deal" tried to scramble to his feet, Sotiropoulos immediately jumped on his back and attacked with some rear naked choke attempts. Pearson rolled forward to knock him off his back and survived to the end of the round.
Pearson looked much more composed in the second round, going back to what worked for him early, throwing hooks to the body to open up Sotiropoulos' head. Sotiropoulos actually started finding some success with his left jab, but he threw it too much as a single shot and eventually Pearson timed it with a perfect left hook counter which dropped him again although he quickly recovered. When Sotiropoulos attempted a takedown, this time he couldn't secure it.
For the third round, Pearson came out a man possessed, leading with his left hook and hurting Sotiropoulos with his first punch. After backing away from the Aussie's guard, he stuffed some desperation takedowns and threw a sharp left hook to the body. This opened up the head and a slick combination of right hook, straight left and then a sharp right hook dropped Sotiropoulos for good and one right hand on the ground for good measure finished it.
For George Sotiropoulos, he did some things very good in this fight. His jab was pretty efficient and he was able to land it consistently. He also showcased that tremendous ground game of his by deftly taking Pearson's back during a scramble and putting the Brit in big trouble. His problem was he couldn't keep the fight where he wanted it. After the initial success on the ground in the first round, he never took the fight there again as his takedowns only came from desperation after getting hurt and weren't properly set up. Also, he fell in love with the jab and allowed Pearson to time it which led to a second down knockdown.
In all honesty, while he still has the ground game to hang with the best at 155, Sotiropoulos' chin has truly betrayed him. At 35 years old, he's been knocked out or dropped in four of his last five fights. It might be time to hang 'em up. If he chooses to stick around, a fight against someone like Mark Bocek, Reza Madadi or perhaps Anthony Njokuani would work.
For Ross Pearson, other than a brief moment in the second half of the first round, he was in complete control. His striking was on point, he trusted his power and he had just enough defense to survive a scary situation in the grappling department. He did a great job of listening to his corner who told him to quit head hunting and set up his big shots. That's exactly how he got the finish as he good blow to the body opened up the head and put Sotiropoulos down for the count. He looked much better last night than he had in his recent performances at featherweight. His counter striking was on point and he caught Sotiropoulos repeatedly with hooks timed perfectly to the Aussie's jabs.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did Pearson show you anything new last night? After three straight losses including two straight knockouts, should Sotiropoulos continue fighting?