The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): Smashes has come to a conclusion, which is capped off by Friday's finale in their welterweight and lightweight finals. Alongside them are the coaches battle as well as a middleweight bout featuring one Brazilian and another Cuban-born Australian living in America. It's not a terrible main card, but it's nothing even approximating spectacular either.
Still, there's a question about what either George Sotiropoulos or Ross Pearson has left at lightweight. The Australian is 35 and hasn't won since 2010. Pearson has had legal troubles from drinking and has been inconsistent of late in his career. A big win here can do wonders for their now-troubled careers.
There's also the issue of Hector Lombard. Can he rebound after a disappointing UFC debut? Can Palhares get back on the winning track with his ferocious leg lock game? I try to answer these questions and others with my predictions for Friday's event.
What: UFC on FX 6
Where: Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
When: Friday, the six-fight FUEL TV card kicks off at 6 p.m. ET and the four-fight FX fights start at 9 p.m. ET.
Predictions for the four main card fights airing Friday on FX are below.
I might live to regret this. I tend to believe Sotiropoulos is the sort of fighter who thrives with time off rather than rusts. And I'm not wild about Pearson's chances either. Both had nice runs in the UFC up through 2010 and have been inconsistent of late, to put it mildly. Still, I'm going to go with the Brit. For starters, he's younger and while he's taken a ton of a damage, I still pick his chin over the Australian's in a fire fight. Second, Pearson is only giving up two inches in reach, which is not a huge amount to overcome. It's not as if Sotiropoulos has a stinging, consistent jab. Most importantly, though, is Pearson's takedown defense. Certainly Sotiropoulos can win anywhere, but he's at his best when he's mixing it up. He's going to have a hard time doing that against Pearson who has surprisingly good ability to nullify the takedowns of opposition.
Honestly, this is not the sort of fight where one competitor enters with a ton of momentum or an obvious advantage. It also isn't the sort of fight where neither has a glaring deficiency. But all things being equal (so to speak), I like the Brit to upset.
This is going to be madness for about two minutes of the first round. After that, the Cuban should cruise. Say what you want about Lombard's performance against Tim Boetsch, the guy is still extremely talented. He still has much of his athleticism left and downright sensational takedown defense. Ditto for submission defense, too. It's true Palhares is the sort of expert who can make black belts like Lombard look foolish, but I don't see it happening. Lombard's going to stuff Palhares' attempts en route to a TKO finish.
The talent on this version of TUF leaves a lot to be desired. This bout is no exception. There's parity between the two, so it should be competitive and fun, but this is not particularly high-level MMA. That said, I like Fletcher here. Parke's vaunted wrestling is fine for safe decisions, but it's not overly smothering and Fletcher is a larger lightweight than many. It's a pick 'em, but I'm more convinced of the upside in Fletcher.
Brad Scott vs. Robert Whittaker
I'm not sure about the well-roundedness of his game just yet (both Whittaker and Scott are very young fighters), but the Australian has big power. It's how he's punched - no pun intended - his ticket to the finals. Scott, by contrast, has relied on more of his tools to get things done, but has also eeked by. They both have a common opponent in Xavier Lucas and it was Whittaker who breezed by him. There's no reason to think he can't do the same to Scott.