It was an unlikely rivalry, but Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos, the opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes, brought plenty of pent-up energy and animosity into the Octagon at the Gold Coast Convention Centre in Gold Coast, Australia. And when it was over on the UFC on FX 6 main event, it was Pearson impressively earning bragging rights with a decisive third round knockout victory.
“I was just patient,” said Pearson. “I knew the shots that I wanted to land, and I said all along that I just need to touch him. It was setting it up, listening to my coaches and my cornermen and just taking my time with it and not being the bull like I normally am.”
“He got the better of me in that last round, and I guess that’s the way it went,” said Sotiropoulos.
Without a touch of the gloves, the two rivals got down to business, Pearson landing with two hooks to start. Sotiropoulos attempted to work his jab from a distance, but a cracking right by Pearson stunned the Australian. Sotiropoulos wobbled considerably, and even after tying up and surviving the initial onslaught, he didn’t seem to have his legs back under him. At the midway point of the round, Pearson sent Sotiropoulos with a kick to the leg, yet just when he seemed like he was rapidly on his way to losing the fight, a straight shot to the jaw backed Pearson up and kept the Brit from rushing in recklessly. With less than a minute to go, Sotiropoulos got the takedown and immediately took Pearson’s back. Pearson got up to his feet as Geelong’s Sotiropoulos looked for a rear naked choke, but the bell would intervene.
After that wild first round, it was suddenly anyone’s fight again, and both were a bit more cagey. Sotiropoulos’ jab was sharp, and Pearson’s wasn’t far behind, but he wasn’t able to rock the Aussie like he did in the opening round until a left hand knocked Sotiropoulos down with under two minutes left. Sotiropoulos got up immediately, but moments later he got drilled with another hard left, perhaps stealing the round for Pearson.
Seconds into round three, the left hook dropped Sotiropoulos again, and though the Aussie vet rose again, he was on wobbly legs yet again. This time, Pearson wouldn’t let him off the hook, with a left followed by a sharp right taking Sotiropoulos’ legs out from under him. After one ground strike, referee Marc Goddard jumped in, stopping the fight 41 seconds into the round.
With the win, the 28-year-old Pearson improves to 16-6 in his return to the 155-pound weight class after a 1-1 run at featherweight. The 35-year-old Sotiropoulos, who has now lost three straight, falls to 14-5.