After one of the year’s most star-studded offerings this past weekend on FOX, the Ultimate Fighting Championship presents another stacked weekend of fights with a pair of cards from opposite sides of the globe.
To get it started, UFC on FX 6 will emanate from Queensland, Australia, headlined by George Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson, coaches of "The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes" featuring UFC hopefuls from Australia and the U.K.
The welterweight final features Team U.K. standout Brad Scott against Australia’s Robert Whittaker, while British teammates Colin Fletcher and Norman Parke vie for the lightweight contract.
The card is capped off by an international middleweight showdown pitting Cuban knockout artist Hector Lombard against Brazilian submission ace Rousimar Palhares.
Here’s a glimpse of what we can expect:
George Sotiropoulos (14-4) vs. Ross Pearson (13-6)
In a clash of styles, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Sotiropoulos, representing his native Australia, takes on the durable British banger Pearson.
Sotiropoulos, 35, was once one of the most promising lightweights in the UFC. A slick submission specialist, Sotiropoulos assembled an impressive seven-fight winning streak, defeating the likes of Joe Stevenson, Kurt Pellegrino and Joe Lauzon.
Now coming off successive setbacks against Rafael dos Anjos and Dennis Siver, Sotiropoulos returns to the Octagon after sitting out more than a year.
Pearson, 28, is returning to the lightweight division after a 1-1 skid at 145 pounds. After winning the ninth season of "The Ultimate Fighter," Pearson earned notable wins over Dennis Siver and Spencer Fisher, but a pair of losses against Cole Miller and Edson Barboza had him reconsidering his division.
A product of The Alliance, Pearson has surrounded himself with high-level teammates, building on a solid foundation that includes a black belt in taekwondo and a brown belt in judo.
This fight will come down to which coach better implements his game plan. Sotiropoulos’ chin will be tested early, but the Australian submission magician will seize the opportunity to tangle Pearson in his submission web.
Verdict: Sotiropoulos via Submission, Round 2
Hector Lombard (31-3-1) vs. Rousimar Palhares (14-4)
Menacing middleweight contenders Lombard and Palhares look to rebound from losses as they meet in a featured bout.
Lombard, 34, a highly touted Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and 4th dan judo black belt, joined the UFC this past July, dropping a forgettable split decision to Tim Boetsch at UFC 149.
The Cuban was signed to the UFC riding a winning streak dating back to November 2006 as he dismantled all opposition during his stint with the Bellator Fighting Championships, where he reigned as middleweight champion. Victories over recognizable names such as Trevor Prangley, Jesse Taylor, Joe Doerksen, Alexander Shlemenko, Jay Silva and Brian Ebersole established Lombard as a force to be reckoned with, but the cautious power puncher offered little offense in his UFC debut.
Palhares, 32, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and world-class submission grappler, saw his three-fight winning streak snapped at the hands of Alan Belcher this past May.
The muscular Brazilian powerhouse is known primarily for his devastating leg locks and crafty submission repertoire. Since joining the UFC in 2008, Palhares has bested the likes of Jeremy Horn, David Branch, Dan Miller and Mike Massenzio.
Palhares has never been the best striker, but Lombard seems content circling patiently rather than aggressively pursuing the finish. Lombard has benefited most when his opponents come at him, but Palhares should know better.
Physically, these are two of the most powerful builds in the middleweight division.
Lombard has never been finished and he should do well fending off the Brazilian’s submission attempts. Palhares will be out of his element in exchanges, however, as he eats the worst of Lombard’s punishing combinations. It will only be a matter of time until a flurry puts him out.
Verdict: Lombard via KO, Round 2
Brad Scott (8-1) vs. Robert Whittaker (9-2)
In the welterweight final of "TUF: The Smashes," the British boxer Scott takes on the Australian slugger Whittaker.
Scott, 23, earned a pair of decisions over Ben Alloway and Xavier Lucas to earn his spot in the final.
A product of England’s Dragon’s Lair Gym and Trojan Freefighters teams, Scott earned all eight of his professional wins inside the distance, including five by knockout and three by submission.
Whittaker, 21, a native of New Zealand, scored a pair of memorable knockouts over Luke Newman and the aforementioned Lucas to punch his ticket to the final.
The PMA Super Martial Arts representative has also finished all nine of his career victims, though he has struggled against superior wrestlers, evidenced by a unanimous decision loss to Jesse Juarez this past May.
Both young fighters should match up quite well, but Whittaker’s experience against a higher level of competition, as well as his impressive knockouts during the "TUF" season, should give him an edge.
Verdict: Whittaker via decision
Colin Fletcher (8-1) vs. Norman Parke (16-2)
One thing we know for sure is that the next lightweight winner of "The Ultimate Fighter" hails from England, as teammates Fletcher and Parke compete for a UFC contract.
Fletcher, 29, is a savvy submission player who advanced to the final with a unanimous decision win over Ben Wall, followed by a second-round submission of Richie Vaculik.
The former Strike & Submit titleholder, a member of Sunderland’s FightPit MMA Academy, has submitted his previous four foes, including David Round and Jason Ball under the BAMMA banner.
Parke, 25, a former Irish freestyle wrestling champion, has trained at Robert Drysdale Jiu-Jitsu as he continues to round out his arsenal. The Northern Ireland native recorded decisions over Brendan Loughnane and Vaculik this season.
Parke has finished all but one of his 16 career victims, including 12 by way of submission.
However, we’ve seen Parke caught in submissions before and Fletcher could capitalize from a single mistake on the mat. In another incredibly competitive final that should come down to the wire, Fletcher’s superior control and attempts at finishing the fight should pay off as he earns a hard-fought decision on judges’ scorecards.