Last weekend, the UFC dropped off one of the most stacked cards of the year in our lap for free. This weekend, not so much. Make no mistake, we will be treated to two, count ‘em two free fight cards this weekend, but both events will have to do a lot in the exciting finishes department to compensate for the lack of drawing power they posses, especially when compared to the bird-flipping, toothpick-chewing, f-bomb-dropping goodness that was UFC on FOX 5.
Kicking off the weekend’s action will be UFC on FX: Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson, which kicks off live on FX via tape delay starting at 9 p.m. EST. Although it’s been dubbed a UFC on FX event, we might as well refer to it by what it truly is, the TUF: Smashes Finale, because in no other universe could you justify having two middle of the pack lightweights (or whatever Pearson is these days) coming off losses headline an FX card. The man in clown attire pictured above apparently made it all the way to the finals, which should either tell you that the UFC has completely given up on finding actual talent on TUF these days or that you should stop being so damn judgmental. Either way, I haven’t seen an episode of the show, which takes us to Saturday’s event…
Keeping with the tradition established in the last ten or so seasons of the American version of TUF, on Saturday we will be treated to a TUF Finale event that pits one of the show’s coaches against a complete outsider due to the other coach suffering an injury. There’s also the welterweight finals matchup between Colton Smith and Mike Ricci — two guys we’re sure you’re familiar with — so join us after the jump to get the inside scoop on the fights you might actually be interested in seeing this weekend.
We shall begin with UFC on FX: Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson.
From the Prelims: There isn’t really much going on in terms of matchups you need to see here. Chad Mendes is taking on a completely unknown who’s making his UFC debut and coming off a loss in Yoatzin Meza, so expect an early stoppage there. Also on the card is likely a loser-leaves-town match between Igor Pokrajac and Joey Beltran. Beltran likes to stand and trade with superior strikers and Pokrajac likes to grapple with superior grapplers and complain about it afterward, so that should make for an entertaining fight. I’m leaning towards Pokrajac though, because Beltran just cannot catch a f*cking break in the octagon.
Really, the only fight that is both relevant and potentially entertaining is the matchup of streaking welterweights in Mike Pierce vs. Seth Baczynski. “The Polish Pistola” has rattled off six straight victories — including four straight in the UFC over the likes of Matt Brown and Lance Benoist — and most recently knocked out Simeon Thoresen at UFC 152. Pierce similarly used his fists to bring Aaron Simpson’s welterweight run to a crashing halt at UFC on FX 5. A win for either man puts them in a decent position among the current welterweight division, so look for Pierce to utilize his grappling background and bully Baczynski against the cage en route to a decision victory. Although in a perfect world, these two would duke it out until one of them goes down. We can only hope.
The Main Card: Right off the bat, you’ve got a fantastic matchup with the potential for a highlight reel submission or knockout finish in Hector Lombard vs. Rousimar Palhares. Both middleweights are coming off disappointing losses that left fans questioning their hearts for entirely different reasons, so one would imagine that they both bring an incredibly aggressive gameplan into this one. After being brought over from Bellator — where he was the most dominant champion the promotion had ever known — Lombard crashed and burned in his UFC debut, suffering a plodding, completely uninspired decision loss to Tim Boetsch. Although Lombard tried to blame the performance on a nagging injury afterward, he will need to impress in a big way on Friday if he doesn’t want to go down as one of the biggest busts in UFC history. The same can be said (albeit to a far lesser degree) about Palhares, who has shown a tendency to wilt if he isn’t able to maim his opponent in the opening moments in a fight against Nate Marquardt and most recently Alan Belcher. Expect both men to come out looking for a finish, but for Lombard to secure one by late first round TKO after shucking off a couple of Palhares’ takedowns and punishing him on the feet.
I’m not even going to try and act like I know the skill set possessed by any of the TUF Smashes finalists, welterweight or lightweight. I know Colin “Freakshow” Fletcher finished his semifinal opponent by some sort of reverse kimura and has acquired most of his professional wins by submission, whereas Park hasn’t finished an opponent on the show, so let’s go with Freakshow for the win there. Moving on.
I can comment, however, on the main event pitting George Sotiropoulos against Ross Pearson. For starters, both men are the same coaches that began on the show, so that’s gotta be some kind of record. Secondly, both men are coming off losses: Pearson was most recently blistered by Cub Swanson in a featherweight contest at UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida and G-Sots has not won since November of 2010, having dropped his past two contests to Dennis “I’m not Daniel Craig” Siver and Raphael dos Anjos. Although Pearson has been submitted once in the UFC, he’s a tough-as-nails competitor who is pretty hard to put away, whereas the Australian’s chin has seemed to betray him in his last couple fights. This matchup is going to come down to whether or not Sotiropoulos can get the fight to the ground before Pearson finds said chin. My guess is he won’t be able to, so look for Pearson to either pick his shots en route to a clear decision victory or shut G-Sots lights off late in the second or third.
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