The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.
In the final first round fight of the season, Team USA’s Frank Lester was chosen to replace Jason Pierce and fight against Team UK’s David Faulkner in a welterweight showdown. Lester then disposed of tournament favorite Faulker when Faulkner declined to get out of his corner in the third round
Lester, still suffering from the bruises and wounds of his previous loss to James Wilks, was battered by strikes from Faulkner in the first round, but was able to muscle out of takedown attempts and clinches before things got too dangerous. Faulkner won round one, but was visibly gassing already by the round’s end.
On the advice of his corner, Lester swarmed Faulkner with punches and knees of his own in round two, and while Faulkner was gassed, he was able to both survive and also throw enough strikes of his own to keep things competitive. Both men were tired and swung for the fences at the end of the round, but an extra round would be needed to decide a winner.
Faulkner however, proved himself to not much more of a real fighter than Jason Pierce when he declined to continue the fight, presumably because he was too tired. In a battle of wills, Lester, despite being bruised and battered from his last fight, proved that he wanted to be a UFC fighter much more than Faulkner did.
In the non-fighting portion of the show, Michael Bisping decided to squirt a water bottle in the face of Demarques Johnson in retaliation to something that was said during the coach’s tennis match. Except it was Cameron Dollar who actually uttered the taunt in question. Bisping’s douchebag-like behavior should add some spice to the season finale and the Bisping-Henderson fight at UFC 100.
For the first time in TUF history, a hypnotist was brought onto the show, to help Faulkner try to mentally overcome a gag reflex issue that made him constantly spit out his mouthpiece. It didn’t work, as Faulkner ended up spitting out his mouthpiece once at the start of round two. Perhaps next time Faulkner can get the hypnotist to correct his tendency to give up when things really matter.
Spike TV’s teaser of the next show advertised a welterweight slugfest for a spot in the finale.
TUF Top 3
- Ross Pearson – Team UK (Previous rank: 1)
The illegal knee to Ritchie Whitson will surely be up for much debate among TUF fans, but Pearson was already winning the stand-up exchange even before the knee. Pearson picked up right where he left off in the prelims, outslugging and overpowering his opponent while roaring back to the top of the lightweight heap.
- Andre Winner – Team UK (Previous rank: 2)
Winner, an early favorite coming into the show, was shaky in his prelim fight but turned up the heat against Santino DeFranco, beating the American in the stand-up game before finishing on the ground. Winner’s combination of strength and length will provide a matchup nightmare against whichever lightweight stands in his way next.
- Cameron Dollar – Team USA (Previous rank: 3)
For all of the trash talk, antagonizing his own teammates, and then pre-fight crisis of confidence, Dollar still managed to put on a solid ground showing versus Martin Stapleton. Despite Jason Dent’s lack of aggression, Dollar is still probably the matchup both Winner and Pearson would favor.
- Demarques Johnson –Team USA (Previous rank: 1)
Johnson solidified his status as the welterweight to beat so far with his quick submission of Dean Amasinger. While Amasinger wasn’t one of the top welterweights, Johnson’s finish was still convincing enough for him to keep the top spot.
- James Wilks – Team UK (Previous rank: 2)
Wilks, who submitted the notable Che Mills in his prelim fight, handled Team USA’s Frank Lester in brutal fashion, showing a hard Thai clinch and knees before finishing things up on the ground. While Lester wasn’t exactly the most seasoned welterweight on the show, Wilks proved that he is no slouch on his feet in addition to being a definite danger on the ground.
- Frank Lester – Team USA (Previous rank: n/a)
Heart is usually the vaguest thing to measure in a person, but whatever that toughness “X Factor” is, Lester has it in spades. Lester gave Team UK favorite David Faulkner all he could handle, outlasting him and grabbing the final spot in the semifinals.
Quote of the Show:
“If you’re not willing to sacrifice for your dream, it’s not really your dream, and you’re not meant to have it.”
- Frank Lester, on taking on David Faulkner despite losing some teeth in his last fight