The UFC attempted to capitalize on the long-standing rivalry between Australia and England on TUF: The Smashes and were possibly more successful at doing so than originally planned. Coaches Ross Pearson and George Sotiropoulos entered the show as relative strangers and exited as intense rivals.
“I’m feeling that energy to go in and put on a great performance. I think because it is a real fight to me and there’s bad blood between us, it’s only gonna make it a better fight for me. I fight better when I feel like it’s real. This could have happened anywhere, this could have happened off-camera, it could have happened anytime, and it’s real. This is a real fight and that’s when I shine. When I fought (Edson) Barboza in Brazil (in August of 2011), my back was against the wall against the best Brazilian up and comer, and I just went in there and fought. And that’s exactly what I plan to do against George when I go into his backyard.”
We surprised a lot of people. I could say I was surprised a little bit by the way he approached things, and about the way he handled himself on the show. I was surprised of what kind of person he actually was. I never had any contact with George before, I’ve never had any relationship with him or anything, so I was going in there totally blind, just knowing what I’ve seen from him fighting in the UFC. So I was totally respectful. I knew George was a great opponent for me to fight and I gave him all the respect in the world. But the longer we spent with each other, the more I found out what the real George is like. The more we got under each other’s skin, the more we disliked each other, and yeah, sometimes it got a little bit crazy and a little bit heated.”
PHOTO CREDIT: UFC