Ross Pearson laid George Sotiropoulos out at UFC on FX 6. | Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
George Sotiropoulos played with fire, and Ross Pearson made sure he got burned.
Pearson (14-6, 6-3 UFC) wiped out his Australian rival with third-round punches in the UFC on FX 6 main event on Friday at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 9 winner dropped the hammer on Sotiropoulos 41 seconds into round three.
An Alliance MMA representative, Pearson had the Australian in trouble in all three rounds. A right hook from the stout Englishman resulted in a wobbly-legged and glassy-eyed Sotiropoulos (14-5, 7-3 UFC) dancing across the Octagon in a desperate attempt to regain his bearings. Somehow, he weathered the assault, took down Pearson with less than a minute to go in the frame and nearly secured a rear-naked choke.
Sotiropoulos never again got the fight to the ground, and the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt was a sitting duck on the feet. Pearson floored him with a left hook in the second round and then finished him in the third, as he put away Sotiropoulos with a heavy left jab-right hook combination that knocked the dazed Aussie off his feet.
“I was just patient. I knew shots that I wanted would land,” Pearson said. “It’s like I’ve said all along: I just needed to touch him. I set it up and listened to my coaches. I wasn’t too aggressive, like I usually am. I just took my time and made him miss and saw the openings.”
Lombard Blitzes, Levels Palhares
Former Bellator Fighting Championships titleholder Hector Lombard wiped out Rousimar Palhares with a series of savage punches 3:38 into the first round of their middleweight showcase. Lombard (32-3-1, 1-1 UFC) has recorded 21 wins in his last 22 outings.
Outside of a few leg kicks, Palhares (14-5, 7-4 UFC) wanted no part of the Cuban judoka on the feet. Lombard knocked down the Brazilian leg lock guru three times. His final salvo -- an explosive left hook, right hook, left hook combination followed by thudding standing-to-ground punches -- left Palhares unconscious at his feet.
“I started my career here, in this country, so all of my wins go to Australia,” Lombard said. “My first MMA fight was on the Gold Coast -- in this city. Getting my first win in the UFC [here], it means a lot.”
Whittaker Earns Welterweight ‘Ultimate Fighter’ Tag
Backed by a boisterous Australian crowd, the Sydney-based Robert Whittaker captured a unanimous verdict from Brad Scott in “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes” welterweight final. All three judges scored it 29-28 for Whittaker (10-2, 1-0 UFC), who went the distance in victory for the first time as a professional.
“The [UFC] contract is a bonus,” Whittaker said, “but the real joy was just defending my country and making everyone proud.”
His game plan marked by short bursts of straight punches, Whittaker drove his counterpart to the ground with blows with roughly 90 seconds to go in the first round and swarmed for the finish. Scott (8-2, 0-1 UFC) defended well and bounced back in round two. There, he struck for a takedown and moved to Whittaker’s back, hooks in. A choke never materialized, and Whittaker eventually returned to his feet.
In the decisive third round, Whittaker again unleashed multi-punch combinations while moving forward. He mixed in standing elbows for good measure, one of them opening a cut near Scott’s hairline.
“I knew the second round could have gone either way, and I wasn’t going to [let it go] to a fourth,” Whittaker said. “I just wanted to seal that final round and let them know who won it.”
Parke Outduels Fletcher in Lightweight Final
Takedowns and positional dominance carried Norman Parke to a unanimous decision over Colin Fletcher in the lightweight final of “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes.” All three cageside judges scored it for Parke (17-2, 1-0 UFC): 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
A judo black belt, Parke negated his foe’s eight-inch reach advantage by bullying into clinches against the cage. From there, the Northern Ireland export delivered his takedowns and built his lead. Parke did not do much damage on the ground, as he was content to pass guard and hunt submissions.
His best chance to finish it came and went in the second round, where he mounted Fletcher (8-2, 0-1 UFC) and ultimately transitioned to his back in search of the rear-naked choke. Though Parke’s advances failed, he methodically tightened his grip on victory.
“Nothing has ever compared to this,” said Parke, who finds himself on a seven-fight winning streak. “This has been the best experience of my life, apart from meeting my fiancé.”
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