UFC on FX 6: George Sotiropoulos vs. Ross Pearson Head-to-Toe Breakdown
George Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson coached against one another on The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes, and they are now set to fight against one another at UFC on FX 6.
The fighters will be returning to lightweight competition for the first time in well over one year, as Sotiropoulos has healed from injuries and Pearson made the decision to come back to 155 pounds following a run at featherweight.
Both competitors will also be looking for their first 2012 win. As the fight approaches, let's take a look at whether Sotiropoulos or Pearson has the better chance to return to the win column on Friday.
Striking Defense Percentage
The strengths and weakness of George Sotiropoulos and Ross Pearson are well known to all. There's no doubt Pearson will be looking to trade punches, while Sotiropoulos will try to drag the Englishman to the ground as early as possible.
If this fight stays standing, there's a good chance Pearson could score his first knockout win since November 2009. Sotiropoulos poses almost no threat on his feet, which would allow Pearson to press forward and swing for the fences on an opponent who was stopped by a brutal punch in his most recent appearance.
Takedown Defense Percentage
If he takes Ross Pearson to the canvas, there's little doubt George Sotiropoulos would be able to control and possibly finish the Englishman. However, the Australian's wrestling has proven weak in the past and could prevent him from utilizing the strongest aspect of his skill set.
While Sotiropoulos has had trouble finishing on his takedowns, Pearson has been stuffing almost all attempts his opponents have made at taking him down. There's no doubt who would have the advantage in a pure grappling match, but Pearson has the ability to take away Sotiropoulos' ground game in an MMA setting.
Submission Defense Percentage
If he does find himself on his back at any point in this fight, Ross Pearson will be in trouble. Having submitted Joe Lauzon, George Sotiropoulos could easily force Pearson to tap if he has time to work on the ground.
Pearson does have a handful of submission wins himself, but those came against lesser competition. The British lightweight has also not even attempted a submission in his past five fights, and it would be shocking if he broke the streak against a grappler like Sotiropoulos.
Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos are essentially equals when it comes to experience, but the Australian hasn't remained active at all recently.
The last time Sotiropoulos stepped into the Octagon, he was knocked out by Rafael dos Anjos in July 2011. Sotiropoulos was briefly booked for a fight with Takanori Gomi in February, but an injury forced him out of the matchup and kept him on the shelf for almost all of 2012.
For a 35-year-old fighter, 17 months of inactivity is a serious concern. Sotiropoulos could have declined significantly during that time, while the 28-year-old Pearson has continued to improve as a fighter.
This fight could head in two very different paths. The direction it takes depends completely on whether or not George Sotiropoulos is able to take Ross Pearson down.
If he has the same wrestling technique he had when he lost to Dennis Siver in February 2011, Sotiropoulos is not going to get positive results on Friday. Though he's not known as an outstanding wrestler, Pearson has the takedown defense to keep this fight standing.
Sotiropoulos hasn't been hit often in his MMA career, but he often goes down when hit on the button. Throw in the potential ring rust that comes with Sotiropoulos' long absence, and this matchup should provide Pearson with an opportunity to make a big statement in his return to the lightweight division.
Pearson defeats Sotiropoulos by knockout (punches) at 2:55 of the first round.
Statistics from fighters' past five fights via FightMetric.com.