For those mixed martial arts (MMA) fans who thought I had one too many protein shakes when I first brought you this news last month, I'm sorry to report that it has, in fact, been confirmed.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight standout and Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season six veteran George Sotiropoulos has been tapped to coach the next International season of the combat sports reality show opposite fellow TUF alum (and eventual champion) from season nine, Ross Pearson.
UFC President Dana White confirmed the news on Wednesday.
TUF: "The Sm-Ashes," a "play on the 130 year-old cricket rivalry" between Australia (Sotiropoulos) and the United Kingdom (Pearson), has already held tryouts in both countries for aspiring MMA up-and-comers between 155-170 pounds.
So far the promotion has been "stunned" by the quality of applicants.
Pearson (13-6), who was recently submitted by Johnny Law, suffered a technical knockout (TKO) loss to Cub Swanson last month at UFC on FX 4 from the Revel Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, NJ. "Sots" (14-4), meanwhile, has been flying under the radar since back-to-back losses to Dennis Siver and Rafael dos Anjos.
This could be the rebirth -- or undoing -- for both struggling fighters as they return to lightweight.
The Smashes will air on the FX Channel in Australia and broadcast plans for stateside viewing have yet to be announced. Previous International versions of TUF have streamed via tape delay on UFC.com, but nothing is official at this time.
Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for more updates as they become available.