UFC lightweight and TUF 9 champion Ross Pearson has had mixed results in the last two years at both 155 and more recently 145 lbs. Nonetheless he has returned to lightweight and is the coach of Team UK in the upcoming season of TUF: UK vs. Australia (otherwise known as "The Smashes") opposite Australia's George Sotiropoulos. The two men not only are rivals on the show, but they'll be fighting each other at UFC on FX 6 this December in the season finale. Pearson talked to MMA Weekly about the Sotiropoulos fight as well as a few other topics.
"The fight against George is definitely a ‘Striker vs Grappler’ match," Pearson recently told MMAWeekly.com in Sydney. "I feel that my biggest advantage is my wrestling.
"I think George will underestimate my wrestling and he will have a hell of a time trying to take it down. I have trained with some of the best wrestlers in the world at Alliance, and I think George will struggle to get the fight where he wants it and he will become frustrated.
Pearson also talked about his role as coach on TUF, and the level of talent of the men he is coaching.
"Our team has a high level of skills and they’re very ready to fight," commented Pearson. "They want to make a career for themselves. That was me three years ago. It just shows how far I’ve come. I’m honored to coach these guys."
Of course, Pearson is a fighter first, coach second. So his next fight with Sotiropoulos is a big one for him to get back in the win column, and "The Real Deal" wants big fights no matter what weight class he's in.
"It has put me in a position where I have to perform and prove myself. I can do the cut to 145 pounds, or I don’t have to cut if I fight at 155 pounds," Pearson said. "To me, weight doesn’t mean anything. I just want big fights and to be at the top of my weight class; whatever it will be.
Pearson, who got off to a fast start after winning TUF by beating Aaron Riley and Dennis Siver, is just 2-3 in his last 5. Sotiropoulos himself has lost his last 2 after a 5 fight winning streak at Lightweight. There's no room for error for either fighter this December if they want to achieve contender status, so if Pearson wants the "big fights" he'll have to rediscover his early UFC success.
There doesn't appear to be any US television coverage of TUF: The Smashes, but it premieres this Wednesday on FX Australia and on ESPN UK.