With the first episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Australia vs UK “The Smashes” series about to premiere, team Australia coach George Sotiropoulos feels that the upcoming series will boost the profile of MMA in Australia, with the sport playing second rate behind the football codes in the country.
“I think (TUF) is going to boost the profile of the sport in Australia,” Sotiropoulos said in a recent interview with MMAWeekly.com. “We've got some good guys on the team, but we're coming up against a strong U.K. team.”
The series differs to recent versions seen in the U.S., as fighters don't have to fight their way into the house after being selected from the tryouts.
“The guys that are coming through are better than when I was on TUF 6,” said Sotiropoulos. “The show is evolving as needs change, but I think it can be an advantage and disadvantage not having to fight to get in the house.
“It helps you to weed out those who aren't going to compete or back out of the show, but the fighting out element can lead to injuries.”
Sotiropoulos brought over some of his coaches from America to help train the Australian team and will draw on the experience he has learned over his years as a fighter.
“I've got a lot of experience in the fight game. I'm bringing some great coaches into the house with me that have helped me to get where I am.”
Following the show, Sotiropoulos will take on U.K. coach Ross Pearson at UFC on FX 6 on the Gold Coast, which will be the Australian's first fight in 18 months after surgery on his knee.
“After the show, it will be business as usual,” said the Australian coach. “The fight against Pearson will be my focus.
“I'm not going to risk anything against Pearson. He is a confident fighter, but so am I. 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.”
TUF: Team Australia vs Team UK “The Smashes” premieres Wednesday, Sept. 19, on FX in Australia at 7:30 p.m. AEST. It will also be aired on ESPN UK at midnight (local time) on Wednesday, Sept. 19.