TUF Australia coach George Sotiropoulos will be counting on his home crowd to spur him on when he fights his opposing coach from the TUF Smashes: Australia vs. UK series, Ross Pearson, at UFC on FX 6 on the Gold Coast this Saturday.
“There aren’t many better feelings than returning home to Australia and setting foot inside a UFC Octagon,” Sotiropoulos said in his recent column for ninemsn.com. “The crowd roars and sings songs and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the emotion of it all, and you have no choice but to rise to the occasion and use the support as motivation.”
In the recent The Ultimate Fighter series, opposing coaches Sotiropoulos and Pearson were seen to have heated exchanges at times, almost boiling over more than one time, but the pair will finally get to settle their score in the Octagon with Sotiropoulos saying a victory over his UK counterpart will “mark a great end to the show.”
“I see myself having my arm raised at the end of this fight and I think I will win in impressive fashion. I’ve visualised this fight many times in my mind – I’ve seen the two of us standing and striking, I’ve seen us going to the ground and grappling. I always picture myself with my arm raised at the end of the fight and the cheers of the Australian fans ringing in my ears.”
Sotiropoulos knows what it takes to be at the top of his division having been one or two fights away from a title shot, but a shock loss to Dennis Siver at UFC 127, followed by being knocked out by Rafael dos Anjos, saw him tumble back down the rankings, but at 35, Sotiropoulos, who is returning from a knee injury, knows he needs to stay active and snap his two fight losing streak.
“I can see myself being very active next year,” he told Bigpond Sport. “I just want to make good progression in the division and work my way back to near the top of the division like I was before.”
Standing in his way is a very hungry Ross Pearson who, like Sotiropoulos, is looking to get a win back on his record, but at just 28 years of age there’s plenty of time for the UK fighter to put himself in title contention. It must, however, start this Saturday on the Gold Coast.
“I’m not going to risk anything against Pearson. He is a confident fighter, but so am I,” Sotiropoulos told MMAWeekly.com. “I have a black belt in jiu-jitsu, (I’ve been) a professional boxer, and have a high level of wresting, so I have what it takes to beat him.
“Every fight is a step closer to achieving success in the sport.”