Know that because this fight card features a lot of fighters making their UFC debut, I’ll be relying on statistics and brief scouting sessions for a few of my picks. Some of them are probably best taken with a grain of salt.
Featherweight match: Ross Pearson (13-6, 5-3 UFC) vs. George Sotiropoulos (14-4, 7-2 UFC)
The main event of UFC on FX 6 features the two coaches of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes, as UK coach Ross Pearson will be taking on Australian coach George Sotiropoulos.
I feel Pearson has key advantages that will make it difficult for Sotiropoulos to win this fight. One is that, if this fight is standing, I think it clearly favors Pearson. Sotiropoulos has had some success with his boxing, but generally against opponents who are poor strikers. Pearson may have been knocked out in his last fight, but he’s a better striker than most of the fighters Sotiropoulos has faced in the UFC, and has a much better chance of finishing with strikes. The other advantage is that Sotiropoulos is likely to have difficulty getting Pearson to the ground.
Pearson has very solid takedown defense. He was taken down a few times by Junior Assuncao, but it seems all Assuncao did in that fight was try to take Pearson to the ground. Sotiropoulos might bring that kind of determination to this fight, but if most of this fight is defined by Sotiropoulos trying and failing to land a takedown, that’s not something that bodes well for him. Now, if Sotiropoulos does succeed in getting the fight to the ground, he will probably be in control. Pearson doesn’t have a long history of being out-grappled, but he hasn’t really fought any grapplers either.
I like Pearson to win as a very slight underdog (might be the favorite by the time of the fight). When Sotiropoulos put together seven consecutive wins in the UFC, his wins were defined by his ability to get the fights to the ground and impose his terrific submission game on his opponents. Pearson profiles as a fighter Sotiropoulos will have a difficult time doing that to, so I’ll take Pearson to win by decision.
Middleweight match: Hector Lombard (31-3-1, 0-1 UFC) vs. Rousimar Palhares (14-4, 7-3 UFC)
Palhares is a very talented fighter, but bizarre things happen in his fights sometimes. Against Alan Belcher, Palhares did everything but finish his trademark heel hook, but the moment he lost it, it almost seemed as if he said “OK. My heel hook didn’t work. You can finish me off now.” The same thing happened against Nate Marquardt; the moment Palhares lost the heel hook, he looked to referee Herb Dean in disbelief and promptly got knocked out.
The point is that I really doubt Hector Lombard is going to lose this fight by heel hook. Lombard has excellent judo, and has never been stopped in a 35 fight MMA career. He’s probably going to force Palhares into a striking match, and while Palhares has heavy hands, I don’t like him to out-point Lombard over a three-round fight. Perhaps Palhares could win a decision based on Lombard just being relatively inactive, as happened at UFC 149 (although I disagreed with the decision that gave Boetsch the win in that fight). On the flip side, Lombard could just win by knockout. That’s my pick – Lombard by KO.
Welterweight match: Brad Scott (8-1, 0-0 UFC) vs. Robert Whittaker (9-2, 0-0 UFC)
This fight is the finals of the welterweight tournament of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. As far as statistical prospects go, Scott and Whittaker grade out very similar. Scott has slightly more upside, but Whittaker grades out slightly better as of right now. Both fighters profile as guys who could have a fairly successful UFC career, but will probably fall short of title contention. Both fighters are aggressive, usually either finishing or being finished. In the end, I like Whittaker to win what could turn out to be a back-and-forth fight.
Lightweight match: Colin Fletcher (8-1, 0-0 UFC) vs. Norman Parke (16-2, 0-0 UFC)
This is the lightweight finals of The Smashes, but unlike the welterweight final, my numbers do significantly favor one guy. That guy is Colin Fletcher, otherwise known as “The Freak Show.” Fletcher is a submission specialist, but has shown flashes of competent striking and a well-rounded game. Most importantly as far as this fight is concerned, both fighters usually win by submission, but Norman Parke has two losses by submission as well, while Fletcher has none. I don’t think Fletcher will develop into a UFC title contender, but I do think he’s the most likely fighter to achieve a high ranking out of those competing on The Smashes. Fletcher by submission.
Featherweight match: Chad Mendes (12-1, 3-1 UFC) vs. Yaotzin Meza (19-7, 0-0 UFC)
I could have easily written “squash match” instead of “featherweight match.” Sadly, Hacran Dias was supposed to fight Mendes at this event, but was forced to withdraw. Fighting on short notice is Yaotzin Meza, a teammate of Benson Henderson fighting out of Arizona. From what I’ve seen of Meza on tape, he has decent takedowns and a good guillotine choke, but sloppy striking and middling takedown defense. That’s a decent skill set for a fighter to have as the opponent of a prospect fighting on the prelims of a UFC show, but this is Chad Mendes we’re talking about. Meza isn’t going to take him down, and the guillotine choke isn’t going to work. Mendes by whatever he wants.
Light-heavyweight match: Joey Beltran (14-8, 3-5 UFC) vs. Igor Pokrajac (25-9, 4-4 UFC)
If you’re wondering how Joey Beltran is still in the UFC, you’re not alone. I think he has a decent chance here though. Igor Pokrajac is less polished striker and more brawler, and tends to take more strikes than he dishes out. Pokrajac’s biggest threat is his power, but Beltran has a reputation of being able to take punishment and just keep coming. Sure, Lavar Johnson stopped him, but that’s a fighter with some of the heaviest hands in the sport, and Johnson still needed to hit Beltran a ton to stop him.
Don’t worry, I’m picking Pokrajac to win this fight, since I feel he’s just the better fighter. But I think Beltran has more upset potential than he’s being given credit for.
Welterweight match: Seth Baczynski (18-8, 4-1 UFC) vs. Mike Pierce (15-5, 7-4 UFC)
Mike Pierce is the kind of fighter who doesn’t quite have the talent to compete with the best at 170 pounds, but is very difficult to beat for anybody else. He has a solid wrestling base, with good striking and submissions. He also likes to clinch a lot, and his fights can be pretty ugly to watch as a result. Seth Baczynski has some upset potential here, since he’s an aggressive striker who I could see winning on points. But Pierce is a big step up in competition for him, and will likely prove to be too much for Baczynski in this one.
Welterweight match: Ben Alloway (12-3, 0-0 UFC) vs. Manuel Rodriguez (9-3, 0-0 UFC)
This is another fight featuring a submission specialist against an opponent whose losses are all by submission. Manuel Rodriguez debuts in the UFC with six submission wins, while his opponent, Ben Alloway, has lost by submission three times. I wasn’t enamored with what I saw of Alloway on tape, and he was even threatened in his Smashes fight against Valentino Petrescu. Alloway is listed as the favorite to win this one, but unless Rodriguez is just an awful striker, I like his chances here. Rodriguez by submission.
Lightweight match: Brendan Loughnane (5-0, 0-0 UFC) vs. Mike Wilkinson (7-0, 0-0 UFC)
I know very little about either man here, but Wilkinson has had some success against tougher competition, while Loughnane has never fought a quality fighter outside of The Smashes. I’ll take Wilkinson to win by submission, and perhaps be a fighter to keep an eye on for the future.
Light-heavyweight match: Cody Donovan (7-2, 0-0 UFC) vs. Nick Penner (11-2, 0-1 UFC)
I know the UFC runs a lot of shows, and needs a lot of fighters to compete on these shows… but come on. I don’t want to be too negative about Cody Donovan or Nick Penner, but neither fighter has really proven he belongs yet. Can we get fighters who have at least won a few fights against decent competition first, before the UFC signs them to a contract? Penner by decision, I guess.