Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned "down under" for their sixth and final "UFC on FX" event of the year as UFC on FX 6: ‘Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson' went down last night (Dec. 14, 2012) in Gold Coast, a city the organization was visiting for the first time.
On paper, the event only had a couple of match ups that jumped out, but as UFC President Dana White says time and time again: "Don't judge a fight card until it's over."
The grudge between The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): Australia vs. UK coaches George Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson was settled in decisive fashion as Pearson took out his Australian counterpart via third-round technical knockout. Also on the card, the ‘Smashes' Lightweight and Welterweight winners were crowned as Norman Parke and Robert Whittaker earned six-figure UFC contracts.
The highlight of the night, though, was Hector Lombard finally living up to the hype by knocking Rousimar Palhares out cold to earn his first UFC victory.
In a sport like mixed martial arts (MMA), each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs, while suffering a defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows.
Every competitor who steps foot inside the cage is looking for that moment of glory. Some capture it, others don't.
There were several shining stars on the UFC on FX 6 fight card as well as an equal amount of disappointments. With that said, it's time to name the biggest winner and lowliest loser from the event in Australia.
The biggest winner of the night was Hector Lombard. After stumbling in his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch, Lombard redeemed himself in a big way with a brutal first-round knockout of Rousimar Palhares in the opening fight of the UFC on FX 6 main card. "Toquinho" appeared intimidated by Lombard's striking from the outset, and once the Cuban began putting leather to chin, Palhares was doomed.
"Lightning" was somewhat tentative for the first few minutes of the contest, but once he got his footing it was just a matter of time until the finish. Lombard delivered the performance UFC fans have been waiting for since he was signed earlier this year with an emphatic knockout.
The 34-year-old called out Michael Bisping in his post-fight interview with Jon Anik, but a win over Palhares, however devastating it may have been, isn't grounds for such a highly ranked opponent, especially if Bisping defeats Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7 in January.
I'll touch more what should be next for Lombard tomorrow in my "Who's next" article.
Ross Pearson is the runner-up for biggest winner of the night as he methodically dismantled George Sotiropoulos in the main event at the Gold Coast Convention Centre. "The Real Deal " dropped "G-Sot" three times before the referee eventually called the fight at the 41-second mark of the third round. It was Pearson's first win at 155 pounds since February 2011, and after all the beef between the two TUF coaches, Pearson got the last word with a stellar showing on his rival's home turf.
Norman Parke and Robert Whittaker were definitely winners tonight. Despite not finishing their respective opponents, both men earned six-figure UFC contracts by winning in the finale. For Parke, his victory has an added dash of satisfaction as he was pegged as the underdog by oddsmakers coming into the fight. Whittaker, on the other hand, was on the right end of arguably the best fight of the night. It will be interesting to see how both men develop from here.
Even though he was facing an overmatched opponent who took the fight on 10-days notice, Chad Mendes scored a second consecutive first-round knockout when he put Taotzin Meza down and out in less than two minutes into the first round. Mendes has long been tagged as a boring fighter by fans, but after back-to-back knockouts, he is beginning to shake that moniker.
Joey Beltran looked extremely impressive in his victory against Igor Pokrajac. Coming into the fight with a dismal 1-5 record in his past six Octagon appearances, "The Mexicutioner" added a much-needed tick to his win column, primarily using superior dirty boxing in the clinch. Beltran went three hard rounds against a proven tough guy in Pokrajac and proved he is still worthy of a spot on the UFC roster.
Finally, the biggest winner category wouldn't be complete without mentioning Ben Alloway. The Australian fighter picked up a ‘Knockout of the Year' candidate when he landed a flush front kick to the jaw of Manuel Rodriguez. That one will be playing on highlight reels for years to come.
The biggest loser of the night was George Sotiropoulos. The native of Australia was knocked out in front of his friends and family; essentially having nothing to offer Pearson in over two rounds of fighting. One would think Sotiropoulos would go for broke with his takedown attempts after being dropped multiple times, however to the dismay of many, that never occurred. Sotiropoulos' high point in the fight was when he took Pearson's back late in the second round, but unfortunately he couldn't make good on his opportunity. At 35 years of age and with three losses in a row, tonight may have been one of the final times Sotiropoulos steps in the Octagon.
Igor Pokrajac's performance definitely deserved a spot in the loser category. For the second fight in the row, Pokrajac got lulled into his opponent's game and paid for it. He took jiu-jitsu ace Vinny Magalhaes to the ground in his last fight and was quickly submitted, and tonight he engaged in a brawl with Joey Beltran, which is never-ever a good idea. With two-straight losses, Pokrajac's gutsy effort will likely earn him one more fight in the Octagon, but if he continues to display poor fight IQ, he will find himself on the receiving end of a third straight loss and possibly his walking papers from the UFC.
The fans in attendance at the Gold Coast Convention Centre were a disappointment tonight. Usually the Australia crowds are very upbeat, but prior to the main card you could hear a pin drop in the arena. Beyond that, chanting "boring" and "bullsh*t" during reasonably entertaining fights such as Sotiropoulous vs. Pearson and Whittaker vs. Scott was questionable. By no means was this the worst crowd at a UFC event, but the crowd certainly didn't translate well on television.
Aside from Sotiropoulos and Pokrajac, there weren't many outright losers "down under." Besides Lombard and Mendes' expected blowouts of Palhares and Meza as well as Alloway's memorable knockout of Rodriguez, there weren't many outright disappointments tonight either.
Who was your biggest winner and loser from UFC on FX 6? Let us know in the comment section below!