George Sotiropoulos is an Australian mixed martial arts fighter who competes in the UFC's lightweight division. He was a contestant on 'The Ultimate Fighter' and a coach on 'Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes'.
How time flies. By the time I step into the Octagon on December 15 in Queensland, it will have been nearly 18 months since I last appeared on a UFC event. That's how long it's been since my last fight and, as you can imagine, I'm raring to get going again.
I've had a long time off but overall it's probably been good for me. I rested a little after the Rafael Dos Anjos fight, came back against Takanori Gomi, only to then get injured and pull out, and have basically been healing up ever since. There were a couple of injuries and surgeries and I had to fully recover before I could start thinking about fighting again.
I basically re-lived the time I went through ACL surgery in 2008. It was just as frustrating and just as painful. Obviously meniscus surgery isn't as severe as ACL so that was some light relief, but it was still very frustrating for me as I wanted to train and I wanted to fight again. It was a rollercoaster ride that came with a lot of drama and I'm just thankful it's now all over and I'm back in action.
I'm now in a really good place physically, mentally and spiritually and I'm back to where I was before. My training has been going well, my jiu-jitsu feels good, my technique is solid and I'm in the perfect frame of mind. I've experienced a full range of feelings and emotions in this last year but now I'm in a very good place.
Some aspects of training have stayed the same, while others have changed. I'm now training at American Top Team and very much enjoying it there. I've added to what I was already doing and am now Down Under for the last five weeks of camp going through sparring and technique work. It has helped me fine tune and so far it has been going really well. I've got one of my training partners here with me, a ton of striking, wrestling, grappling and conditioning coaches, as well as a wealth of top fighters and sparring partners. You couldn't really ask for much more.
This upcoming fight against Ross Pearson is a good one for me. It's a good one to come back on, but not because he's a soft touch. In fact, Pearson, like most guys in the UFC, is very talented and dangerous, and is one of the better fighters in the division. Any fight is good for me at this point but I'm especially happy to have a big one like this on the horizon. It's a fight that means something.
I don't choose my fights, I take what I'm given. But I'm a competitor and I'll fight anybody who thinks they might be able to beat me. Ross Pearson obviously thinks he can beat me and I'm ready to prove otherwise on the Gold Coast. It's a very winnable fight for me and I have all the tools needed to beat him. I also believe I'm good enough to finish him inside the distance.
Of course, this fight has an extra angle and an extra dynamic because we were rival coaches on "The Ultimate Fighter – The Smashes". This isn't your normal fight. We knew we'd have to coach a team of fighters before we were given the chance to take centre stage and that's what we did. Rather than just being given the name of an opponent and then going away to prepare for the fight, we first had to spend a number of weeks in each other's company.
Naturally, the situation becomes awkward when you spend any length of time around somebody you know you're going to fight at some point. Certain comments are made and you react to them. He's a competitor, I'm a competitor and any time you have two guys like us spending time together, that competitiveness will, at some point, get the better of us. It has been seen a couple of times on the show. For the sake of the show and common decency, we had to tone it down a bit and keep it under wraps. But no such restraint will be shown on December 15.
Australia's George Sotiropoulos meets Ross Pearson in the main event on Saturday, December 15 at UFC on FX SOTIROPOUlOS vs. PEARSON, live from Queensland, Australia. Tickets available at Ticketek
Follow George on Twitter @georgesots