This Friday night (Dec. 14, 2012), the Octagon travels down under for the second time this year with UFC on FX 6: "Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson" from the Gold Coast Convention Centre in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
A lightweight contest receives top billing as The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): The Smashes coaches George Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson square off in the main event of the evening. There are several interesting storylines to follow going into and coming out of the event, but only four can make the "burning" list.
That being said, here are four burning questions going into UFC on FX 6: "Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson" this weekend:
4. Is this Joey Beltran's final stand?
The last time Joey Beltran was seen inside the UFC Octagon was at UFC on FUEL TV 4 back in July when he was on the wrong end of a savage beating from James Te Huna. The bout was Beltran's first in the UFC at light heavyweight and his first since being brought back to the organization after a short-lived release.
While Beltran delivers exciting fights as seen in his ‘Fight of the Night' effort against Te Huna, his UFC run has been mediocre at best, compiling a 3-5 record inside the Octagon. The career-changing move from the heavyweight division down to 205 pounds was the right one, but to stay in the UFC, Beltran needs to win fights.
With three UFC losses in a row, Beltran is lucky to be getting another fight. But since he took the Te Huna fight on short notice, "The Mexicutioner" was given another fight inside the Octagon and takes on Igor Pokrajac in the preliminary portion of the UFC on FX 6 fight card this weekend.
Beltran is by no means going to be a title contender at light heavyweight, but there is certainly a contingent of fans that like watching him compete. A win over Pokrajac would be the biggest of his career and earn him at least one more fight with the UFC. A loss, though, would likely be cause for the 31-year-old to get his walking papers once again.
3. Who will become the TUF: ‘Australia vs. UK' tournament winner?
For the first time, UFC went overseas with its hit reality show "The Ultimate Fighter." The season featured a cast split into two regions, Australia vs. the United Kingdom, and was titled "The Smashes."
Knockouts, submission and back-and-forth wars were a common theme throughout the 13-episode show.
After winning two fights each to advance to the finals, a welterweight and lightweight champion will be crowned as England's Brad Scott takes on Australia's Robert Whittaker at 170 pounds and Norman Parke meets Colin Fletcher in the all-UK 155-pound final.
Scott got to the finals of the show the hard way, defeating Xavier Lucas and Benny Alloway by decision. Whittaker earned first-round finishes over Luke Newman and Xavier Lucas (who returned to the tournament as an injury replacement) to complete his journey to UFC on FX 6. Whittaker displayed strong striking and submission skills that he will surely be looking to use to his advantage against Scott.
In the lightweight finals, Fletcher is coming off one of the most impressive showings of the season as he easily dominated opponents in his path to the live finale. Fletcher is the favorite coming into the bout, and is one of the fighters on the show with a lot of potential moving forward with his fighting style and unique personality. His opponent, Parke, will try to make it a rough beginning to Fletcher's UFC career by pulling off the upset.
On Friday night, UFC history will be made with two new "TUF" winners will be crowned. Who will they be?
2. Which lightweight will win their way back into relevancy?
While they are only fighting in the main event because of coaching The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), the UFC is providing two down-on-their-luck lightweights in Georges Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson with a serious opportunity to pump a breath of fresh air into their careers.
Pearson moves back up to the lightweight division after a two-fight stint at featherweight where he went 1-1. The Brit relished the opportunity to teach young fighters on TUF and believes coaching the reality show gave him a new perspective on his career that will benefit him going forward.
Sotiropoulos has not competed since a knockout loss to Rafael Dos Anjos in July 2011 and looks to rebound with a big win in his home country of Australia. After starting his UFC career with seven consecutive wins, the 35-year-old has dropped two in a row and needs a win to show he is still capable of competing at the highest level.
By no means is the Pearson vs. Sotiropoulos winner in line for a title shot. In reality, a win won't even place the winner in the top-15 at 155 pounds, but after suffering multiple disappointing defeats or going through a long layoff, the victor will at least place their name back in the minds of UFC fans, especially if they deliver a dominant performance.
1. Can Hector Lombard live up to the hype in his second Octagon appearance?
Coming into the UFC as one of the hottest free agents on the market and being hyped as a knockout specialist, Lombard's performance against Boetsch at UFC 149 -- a split decision defeat -- was nothing short of a letdown.
The Cuban was tentative in the fight and did not deliver the type of violence fans have come to expect of him while he racked up a 32-2-1 record with one "No Contest" in other organizations such as CFC, AFC and Bellator.
Fortunately for Lombard, the mixed martial arts (MMA) community has a short-term memory and all it will take for everyone to forget his debut is to put on a stellar performance against Rousimar Palhares at UFC on FX 6 this Friday night.
While every fight in the sport is a "must-win," the phrase rings especially true for the 34-year-old because he was hyped as a title contender coming into the UFC. If he loses again, especially in underwhelming fashion, it makes him look like a joke and his future with the organization will be up in the air.
For more on this Friday night's UFC on FX 6 event click here.