Since 1882 Australia and England have battled in cricket in one of the most celebrated rivalries in the sports history – “The Ashes” takes place biennially over 18 to 30 months comprising of five test matches with two innings per outing.
This year their nation vs. nation rivalry will continue inside an eight-sided cage on The Ultimate Fighter with the winners between both weight classes earning a six-figure contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, not to mention all the bragging rights.
The Ultimate Fighter took a struggling organization and forced people to pay attention breeding a whole new generation of fight fans and the plan is to do the same to boost the popularity further in Australia and UK.
The series, playfully dubbed “The Smashes” is set to kick off in September but due to a limited number of Aussies on the UFC roster it’s slim pickings for coach pairings at this stage if they look to continue with the concept of a representative from each Country as the leader.
Social media exploded the moment the announcement chimed in with opposing Countrymen playfully raising their hand for the position but here are the most interesting combinations.
Brian Ebersole vs. Dan Hardy
Two men with interesting stories for completely different reasons – Ebersole is one of the most colorful personalities in the entire organization, sporting his infamous arrow made from his chest hair dubbed the “hairrow” he also has had a long road to the elite 170-pound division.
The Melbourne resident has been fighting since the beginning of this century compiling 65 fights with 62 of them on his long journey to the UFC – He has competed all over and must have a war story or two to share from the days of the Wild, Wild West.
Hardy used his gift of the gab coupled with a powerful right-hand to challenge for the UFC’s top crown at 170-pounds within four fights but since his unsuccessful bid to dethrone George St-Pierre he hasn’t got his hand raised once.
While most keyboard warrior’s distain the idea of the loud-mouthed Brit still earning a cheque from Zuffa, LLC he has his final chance at remaining in the organization in two weeks when he faces travelled veteran Duane Ludwig.
For this fight to line up it would take a lot of mixing and matching, firstly Hardy would have to save his job at UFC 146 and also Ebersole would have to get past submission guru TJ Waldburger in June without any lingering injuries.
But if all came together these two entertaining personalities could create some must-watch television and an interesting fight when the series concludes.
George Sotiropoulos vs. Ross Pearson
It’s always interesting when past cast-members of the series return with the wealth of knowledge to share as coaches, this is the situation if these two would face off with each being stand-outs on their respective series.
Sotiropoulos didn’t win season eight but he might be the most accomplished member of that cast, including the eventual winner Mac Danzig. Less than 48 months ago he was considered to be a fight away from challenging for the UFC lightweight strap before back-to-back defeats.
Pearson won the series as a lightweight but failed to break through the upper echelon going 4-2 so when the chance to fight at 145-pounds came up with the inception of the new weight-classes he was all about it.
Pearson is already schedule to fight in June against Cub Swanson as a featherweight so that’s a barrier we would have to get past before this could be set in stone.
The other hurdle to jump would be Pearson having to move back up in weight to have this match or the Gellong-born Sotiropoulos to go down or even meet him half way but this would be an interesting match-up.
Hector Lombard vs. Michael Bisping
In a perfect world, this would be the outcome – Two of the best 185-poundest on the planet mentoring their fellow Countrymen before punching each other in the face to determine who is the top-challenger for the middleweight championship.
Lombard is the former Bellator Fighting Championships and Cage Fighting Championships middleweight champ, unbeaten since 2006 he enters the octagon for the first time with 31 victories against his name.
Bisping has served both as a coach and a participant on The Ultimate Fighter and is believed to be a few fights away from challenging for the 185-pound crown after narrowly losing to top-contender Chael Sonnen.
The obvious hurdle to jump here is both have bookings, Lombard is facing Brian Stann in August while Bisping meets Tim Boetsch in July – The timing for this would be almost impossible to pull off and everything would have to fall into place but we can fanaticize right?