If the lower television ratings are any indicator, there’s a good chance you didn’t watch the 16th season of The Ultimate Fighter featuring coaches Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson.
It’s even less likely you took to the internet to follow The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes pitting Team Australia against Team U.K.
The UFC’s inaugural Australian-based reality show wraps on Friday night (Saturday afternoon in Aussie land) with two international TUF winners being crowned, and a coaches battle between Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos.
Dubbed UFC on FX 6: Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson, the event at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Queensland, Australia will probably be the first look at the international series’ version of Forrest Griffin and Diego Sanchez for many people in North America and around the world.
Watch the entire UFC on Sportsnet: Sotiropoulos vs. Pearson fight card Friday from 6-11 p.m. ET on Sportsnet ONE.
While there were many different personalities that shone through during the first season of the American version of the reality show in 2005, The Smashes had one fighter who clearly stood-out above the rest.
Colin (Freakshow) Fletcher showed throughout the season that he isn’t your typical pale six-foot-two, 155-pound Englishman. The 29-year-old routinely wore colourful miniature top hats and skin-tight body suits that left little to the imagination, all the while providing some hearty laughs around the house with his off-the-wall antics.
He also got it done inside the cage with a well-rounded assortment of skills. In his opening-round fight he put Aussie Ben Wall on his back and used his boney elbows to ground-and-pound his way to a unanimous decision.
It took some time for Fletcher to figure out the much shorter Richie Vaculik when he met the Aussie fighter in the semifinals, but once he found his range he managed to close the distance and win the bout via second-round submission.
On Friday, he’ll not only be facing the stiffest competition he’s come across in the tournament, but he’ll also have to deal with fighting a teammate and his best friend in the house, Norman Parke.
After beating Vaculik with his own ground-and-pound in the opening round, the 25-year-old Parke was nearly booted from the show along with four of his U.K. teammates for sending text messages from a cell phone they had secured from a neighbour. Instead, he and the others were allowed to stay.
The Irishman Parke made the most of his second chance outlasting teammate Brandon Loughnane en route to a unanimous decision in the semifinals, completing a dominant clean sweep of the lightweight side of the bracket for Team U.K.
Speaking of domination, no one on the show was more impressive than 21-year-old Aussie welterweight Robert Whittaker. The youngster took just 19 seconds to brutally knock out Luke Newman in his first contest on the show, while teammate Xavier Lucas managed to last only 1:17 into the opening frame before going down in their semifinal matchup.
Whittaker will be back to fighting Brits in the finale as he meets 23-year-old Englishman Brad Scott.
Scott has been compared to Forrest Griffin by coach Pearson, and it’s really an adequate assessment. He isn’t quite spectacular in any one area, but he also doesn’t have any major holes in his game. He has good cardio and uses it to put the pressure on his opponents, something he did successfully in decision victories over Lucas then Benny Alloway in the semis.
With the American version of the Ultimate Fighter concluding on Saturday, there will be no shortage of TUF nostalgia throughout the weekend.
On Friday night, more could be created in Australia as the country could have its own Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar moment and help launch MMA’s momentum in yet another developing market.
Or maybe they don’t… but at least you know whose fighting now.