This Friday, the UFC heads to the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre with The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes finale.
Coaches Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos face off in the main event of the evening in a lightweight contest. Pearson is making his return to 155 after a brief run at featherweight.
In The Smashes welterweight finals, Aussie Robert Whittaker faces the UK's Brad Scott. Whittaker was the most impressive contestant all season and now is just one fight away from a six-figure UFC contract.
The Smashes lightweight finals has Fight of the Night written all over it as Colin Fletcher takes on Norman Parke in an all-UK bout. Fletcher was a bit of an oddball all season, but backed up his strange behavior in the cage.
Rounding out the broadcast, Rousimar Palhares looks to rebound against Hector Lombard—who is looking to pick up his first UFC win—in a middleweight bout.
It's a strong international card that could have some real impact in several of the UFC's best divisions.
Bleacher Report MMA Featured Columnists Matthew Roth, McKinley Noble, Sean Smith, Scott Harris, Kyle Symes, and John Heinis are back with official main-card predictions for UFC on FX 6.
Matthew Roth: One thing that I'm certain about is that we've overrated Hector Lombard. That's not to say he's not skilled, but it's pretty clear he's not who we thought he was. This bout comes down to Lombard's ability to stay on his feet. If he can keep Palhares standing, this fight gets finished.
Lombard, TKO, Round 2
John Heinis: Both of these hulking middleweights are desperate for a win after suffering disappointing losses in their most recent Octagon appearances. Palhares may have the craftier submissions, but "Lightning" is the more complete fighter, with legitimate grappling credentials of his own.
Lombard, Unanimous Decision
Scott Harris: There's no way Lombard is going to look as terrible as he did in his UFC debut. It's not physically possible. Plus, I think Lombard is a little more well-rounded than fellow anthropomorphic tree stump Palhares. I'm not even sure Palhares can take him down, and if he can't, watch out.
Lombard, TKO, Rd. 2
Kyle Symes: Could this be the biggest fight in recent memory that people aren't talking about? I know both guys are coming off losses but both Hector Lombard and Rousimar Palhares are big names that put on exciting fights. I believe Lombard's pectoral injury was the reason behind his horrible performance at UFC 149, and I don't see Palhares being able to take him down.
Lombard, TKO Rd. 2
McKinley Noble: It has to disappoint the UFC that Lombard isn't living up to the hype, but that's what happens when a fighter spends so many years padding his record on overmatched opponents. Still, Palhares is limited enough that I can't safely pick him for the upset. Lombard keeps his knee intact and hits "Toquinho" square on the chin for a stoppage.
Lombard, TKO, Rd. 1
Sean Smith: Lombard's UFC career didn't get off to a great start, but the former Bellator champion matches up with Palhares much better than Tim Boetsch. The judo black belt should be able to stuff Palhares' takedown attempts and avoid any chance of being caught in his opponent's signature heel hook. On his feet, there's no way Lombard will be as conservative as he was in his last fight, and that's bad news for Palhares.
Lombard, TKO, Rd. 1
Matthew Roth: This is one of those few cases when the best talent on the show ended up in the finals. Fletcher is a bit of an oddball outside the cage but he's able to back it up with unorthodox stand-up and capable grappling. I'm basing this decision off the fact that Fletcher is getting the most press in the UK.
Fletcher, Unanimous Decision
John Heinis: Fletcher is a solid wrestler with great submissions from the top, while Parke is excellent at taking the back and locking in the rear-naked choke. A tough fight to call, but Parke is a slightly better striker and a submission expert under trainer Robert Drysdale. He'll do enough to edge out an exciting decision.
Parke, Split Decision
Scott Harris: I don't know a ton about Fletcher, other than that he likes to submit guys and is really unorthodox, both inside the cage and out. Parke's game pivots off the takedown, but Fletcher has the grappling and overall defense to stifle that.
Fletcher, Unanimous Decision
Kyle Symes: This fight could feature some interesting grappling scrambles as both men are no stranger to the ground. I'm picking Parke to win this as I see him being able to utilize his takedowns to score points en route to a decision victory. Plus, as John said, you have to like the fact he rolls with Robert Drysdale on a regular basis.
Parke, Split Decision.
McKinley Noble: Between the two lightweight finalists, Parke seems like the more versatile submission specialist. He's sloppy, but has more aggressive striking than Fletcher, which is probably going to be the difference-maker if their jiu-jitsu cancels each other out. I'll hedge my bets on Parke wearing out Fletcher in the final round and forcing a stoppage.
Parke, TKO, Rd. 3
Sean Smith: Fletcher and Parke are most successful on the ground. Both British fighters are going to look for a takedown early, and Parke will probably be able to use his size to muscle Fletcher to the canvas. However, Fletcher is the more crafty grappler and should be able to make something happen off his back or even from the top position after sweeping his opponent.
Fletcher, Submission, Rd. 1
Matthew Roth: Out of the entire welterweight roster on The Smashes, Whittaker appeared to be the most UFC-ready while taping the show. I don't think that's changed in the months since taping ended. Brad Scott is talented, but I think he's outgunned.
Whittaker, Unanimous Decision
John Heinis: Whittaker has heavy ground and pound and good submissions from the top position, while Scott is more of a striker with some basic jiu-jitsu know how. Looks like another good fight on paper, but Whittaker is better.
Whittaker, Submission, Rd. 3
Scott Harris: Whittaker has blazed a fierce trail through The Smashes. Scott, not so much. I see no reason to swim against the current on this one.
Whittaker, TKO, Rd. 1
Kyle Symes: This appears to be a striker versus grappler type of matchup with Whittaker attempting to use his ground and pound to secure the victory. Scott will look to get his striking game going and may even threaten with a submission but I'll take the better grappler in this one.
Whittaker, Unanimous Decision
McKinley Noble: Scott is a strong, rangy fighter who really knows how to pace himself. Whittaker is a more powerful finisher on the feet with good jiu-jitsu, although he can be broken down and controlled a competent grappler. Scott tends to favor his boxing for grinding fights, so I think Whittaker eventually blasts him during a standing exchange.
Whittaker, KO, Rd. 2
Sean Smith: In Ben Alloway, Whittaker and Scott have a common opponent. Whittaker submitted Alloway in the second round, while Scott edged Alloway in a split decision. MMA math is hardly the most accurate way to make predictions, but Whittaker looked better against Alloway and throughout The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes, so he should win in convincing fashion.
Whittaker, TKO, Rd.1
Matthew Roth: Let's be honest for a second: George Sotiropoulos is chinny-er than Glass Joe from Punch Out, and Ross Pearson has the stand-up to put him to sleep should he connect. It's obvious that if the fight goes to the mat that Sotiropoulos will have the clear advantage, but it never gets there.
Pearson, TKO, Round 2
John Heinis: Sotiropoulos was a dark horse candidate to fight for the UFC lightweight title in 2011 after winning eight straight, but that was derailed after back-to-back losses to Dennis Siver and Rafael dos Anjos. Pearson is 2-3 in his past five and is a a tough customer for anyone at lightweight. A loss would likely spell a pink slip for Sotiropoulos and I don't see that happening.
Sotiropoulos, Submission, Rd. 3
Scott Harris: This one looks like a test of wills to me. Sots has been out for quite a while and is chinny at the best of times. I have to go with the British brawler.
Pearson, TKO, Rd. 1
Kyle Symes: Sotiroupolus seemed to be well on his way to a UFC title shot until suffering back-to-back losses. Pearson, meanwhile, dropped a weight class after finding mixed success at 155 pounds. Although I'm not always a firm believer in size advantage, but I think it'll come into play here. Pearson will be valiant in defeat but in the end I see the Aussie wearing him down on the ground.
Sotiroupolus, Submission, Rd. 2
McKinley Noble: This is one case where MMA math just doesn't work. Pearson once outpointed Dennis Siver in a brilliant match at lightweight, while Sot lost to Siver almost a year later. And yet, I still think Sot is a better overall fighter—even with old age and those mournful "grandpa pecs" weighing him down.
Sotiropoulos, Unanimous Decision
Sean Smith: Without the takedowns to complement his excellent grappling ability, Sotiropoulos is going to be forced to stand with Pearson. 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, KO, Rd. 1