Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back on television this weekend with UFC on FX 6, which is the code name for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) "Sm-Ashes" finale featuring lightweight coaches (and former contestants) Ross Pearson vs. George Sotiropoulos.
And ZUFFA will be awarding "six-figure contracts" in the 155 and 170-pound divisions.
While most of us have been casually watching the replays, I'm quite certain the majority of mixed martial arts (MMA) fans will be interested in the middleweight match-up between Hector Lombard vs. Rousimar Palhares, which pits two of the most unstable 185-pounders in combat sports (outside of Paulo Filho) against one another.
Should be entertaining.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Fri., Dec. 14, 2012), which is slated to air at 9 p.m. ET on FX. The latest quick updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 6 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on FUEL TV.
Let's get to it.
Nostradumbass predicts: There was a time when both of these cats were on the fast track to lightweight superstardom. George Sotiropoulos didn't cut the mustard on season six, but roared back at the live finale and went on a six-fight tear, defeating guys like Joe Stevenson, Kurt Pellegrino and Joe Lauzon along the way.
So what happened?
Well, he ran into a German kickboxer named Dennis Siver, who laughed off his ground game and beat him to the punch on his home turf. He tried to bounce back against Rafael dos Anjos and instead bounced his head off the canvas, the victim of a blistering knockout.
And what's with the layoffs?
"G-Sots" has been out of action for over a year, just like he was from April 2008 to Aug. 2009 because of injuries. The Aussie is a tad brittle and let's face it, stepping inside the cage at 35 isn't what it was at 25. Advantage on the ground?
No question, but that doesn't guarantee victory. If it did, he wouldn't have five unanimous decisions in 14 wins.
Pearson hasn't exactly been perfect himself, coming off a knockout loss of his own to Cub Swanson (at featherweight) earlier this year in New Jersey. He certainly looked like "The Real Deal" when he won TUF 9, but it hasn't been all wine and roses in recent fights.
While it's labeled a red flag against a ground fighter, I'm not going crazy over his submission loss to Cole Miller, as Pearson was rocked on his feet before getting choked out -- and he was able to hang with Edson Barboza in the stand-up not long after that in a razor-thin loss.
This one is all about cardio.
I believe Pearson can win this fight if he maintains his conditioning. He's a busier fighter on the feet and scrappy enough to stay off the floor when Sotiropoulos goes for broke. The key is to not make a mistake or get greedy when he has the advantage.
Stick and move!
Final prediction: Pearson def. Sotiropoulos via split decision
Nostradumbass predicts: There's no doubt Rousimar Palhares is one of the most dangerous ground fighters in the middleweight division, racking up six heel hooks in the last five years, but I feel he lost a bit of his mystique following a technical knockout loss to Alan Belcher at UFC on FOX 3 back in May.
"The Talent" proved that when you roll with "Toquinho," a submission is not always a foregone conclusion.
I wouldn't exactly recommend it based on that performance, but keep in mind, the Brazilian was also put on queer street by Dan Miller during their bout at UFC 134. The same Dan Miller who has one knockout win in 20 professional fights. And don't forget about the time Paul Harris was pounded out by Nate Marquardt.
The question is, which one of these fighters will self-destruct first?
Lombard is hardly a stable competitor, but he's got the chops to hang with anyone. Despite his massive build, he's still undersized for 185 pounds -- but so is Palhares -- and the Cuban-born Aussie, who terrorized the ranks of Bellator and CFC, was good enough in Judo to earn a spot on the Olympic team.
My concern is his gas tank, as well as the voices in his head.
Only "Shango" knows for sure what prompted him to sleepwalk through his fight against Tim Boetsch in his ZUFFA debut last July, but it's not much different than some of the absent-minded antics his opponent has done since joining the ranks of the UFC.
All other things being equal, I'll go with the guy who hits like an oncoming cement truck.
Final prediction: Lombard def. Palhares via knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: I'll say one thing about this welterweight final, I'll be surprised if it goes the distance. I had Scott early on as one of my favorites to win the show, but he didn't look as dominant in front of the cameras as he had on the European circuit, where he finished all eight of his wins.
That's not uncommon.
Life in the TUF house can do crazy things to a fighter's mentality and there's more at stake in the elimination fights than just wins and losses, so I'm not going to abandon ship just because he went from finisher to decisioner. I'm abandoning ship because Whittaker is on a serious roll.
And it took him less than two minutes to advance to the finals.
Like his British rival, the Aussie has finished all nine of his wins. Where he differs from Scott, is how he continued that trend inside the TUF house, pasting Luke Newman and Xavier Lucas in the process. His last pro bout was a hard-fought decision loss to longtime veteran Jesse Juarez, but it doesn't look to have slowed him down one iota.
These two are going to come out firing, but it's Scott that's going to be looking up at the lights.
Final prediction: Whittaker def. Scott via technical knockout
Nostradumbass predicts: UK vs. UK ... they leave me no one to root for! All kidding aside, I don't want to see Colin Fletcher make it to the promised land -- just because he creeps me out. Seriously, it's enough with the clown shtick already.
That said, he is a talented fighter. His decision win over Ben Wall was nothing to write home about, but he got back to form by subbing Richie Vaculik. And prior to his reality show stint, "Freakshow" went 2-0 under the BAMMA umbrella.
Not too shabby.
Parke actually has more experience and despite the lingering threat of submission, I think his wrestling gets it done on fight night. The challenge will be to close the gap and take things south of the border without getting guillotined or lit up on the way in.
Might be a good spot to implement that Judo background.
"Stormin'" has 12 submission victories in 16 wins and it wouldn't surprise me to see a rear naked choke, but I don't think Fletcher will be that easy to put away -- unless his cardio fails -- which means Parke will have to beat him up on the ground and hope he can impress the judges.
Final prediction: Parke def. Fletcher via unanimous decision
That's a wrap, folks.
For previews and predictions on the preliminary card fights click here and here. To see all the odds and betting lines for UFC on FX 6 click here and remember to come check us out after the show for all the latest results, recaps and coverage of "Pearson vs. Sotiropoulos."
What do you think? Now it's your turn ... let us have it in the comments section and share your thoughts and picks for tomorrow night's event.