Posts tagged: Dan Henderson

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Bisping-Silva Should Impress

Michael Bisping (ufcmedia.com)

Australia is currently the hotspot for MMA action, as we get ready for UFC 110, which will occur in Sydney. Highlighting the Main Card is the much anticipated Nogueira vs. Velasquez. However, there is another fight that may draw more attention.

Only separated by three years of age, middleweights Wanderlei Silva (33) and Michael Bisping (30) are more dramatically separated by eight years of professional experience. With his first professional bout in 1996, Silva has risen to become not only a great fighter at 32-10-1 (1 NC), but also a great leader and teacher, starting his own fight team (Wand) in Las Vegas, Nev.

Bisping, on the other hand, began his professional career in 2004 at Pride & Glory 2: Battle of the Ages, in which he won the fight in 0:38 with an armbar over Steve Matthews (2-4-0). Since then, Bisping has generated an 18-2 record – his only losses occurring within the past two years. He was undefeated with a record of 14-0 until a loss to Rashad Evans (14-1-1) in 2007 at UFC 78 on a split decision.

More recently, Bisping, also known as “The Count,” added his only other loss against United States wrestling specialist Dan Henderson. Prior to the fight, which occurred at UFC 100 in Las Vegas, Nev., Bisping and Henderson squared off in a different venue: The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom. Bisping coached the UK’s team, as he grew up in Clitheroe, Lancashire.

In a fight with implications of a shot at Anderson Silva for the Middleweight Championship Belt, Bisping looked to improve his record to 15-1 and contendership, but Henderson had other plans. In what seemed to be an evenly matched first round, both fighters exchanged blows using their hands and feet, which is not surprising, beings that Bisping’s style indicates a background in kickboxing, BJJ and Muay Thai.

By the end of the round, it was quite obvious that Wolfslair MMA Academy’s own, Bisping, was fatigued, and at 3:20 in the second round, after another match of punches and kicks from both fighters, Henderson landed two big punches to defeat Bisping via an absolutely ruthless knockout.

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Bisping would rebound nicely, as he ventured off to his homeland of England where he would face off against Canadian BJJ specialist Denis Kang at UFC 105 in Manchester.

The fight would win Fight of the Night honors, and featured a much different Bisping. Contrary to Bisping’s prior fight, his opponent gained complete control of the first round, mounting Bisping twice in the early-going.

Bisping followed with a statement kick to the head, which grazed Kang, and then followed up with two of his own takedowns. After a few jabs and another takedown, Bisping mounted Kang and finished him off with punches and knees. The referee stopped the fight at 4:24 of the second round, declaring Bisping the winner by TKO.

So, will Silva’s quick and aggressive Muay Thai and BJJ style, paired with the extra eight years of professional experience, bode well for the 18-2 Bisping? Bisping certainly thinks so, especially after tweaking his defensive posture, according to an interview on Bisping’s website.

Bisping vs Silva (mmafight.com)

“I’ve been working a lot of my defense, obviously since the Dan Henderson fight,” he commented. “I had no choice. I got knocked out there, and I’m not in a rush for that to happen again. I’ve been working on my defense, and I’ve got no qualms standing with Wanderlei.”

UFC 110 will air on February 21, 2010, and we will find out if Bisping has what it takes to handle a veteran and rank among the top middleweights in the world.

Coming Out On Top

One of the most anticipated fights of UFC 100 is Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping. Most expect the fight to be won or lost on the ground. This being so, the biggest question is, who will have the overall advantage? Can Bisping out-wrestle a former Olympic wrestler? And does Henderson, who now primarily relies on his fists, still have the wrestling skills to overcome Michael Bisping?

MMA veteran Dan Henderson, is a former olympic wrestler and PRIDE middleweight, and light heavyweight champion. He is also, as of more recently, a largely one -dimensional fighter. One would think that Henderson relies mostly on his strengths in wrestling; in fact, he is criticized for not fighting to his wrestling strengths. He has found most of his success in his cannon right hand.

Michael Bisping is a former kick boxer. He is 18 and 1 in the UFC, his one loss being a close split decision. Bisping is the former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship light heavyweight champ, and former Cage Rage light heavyweight champ. He was also winner of The Ultimate Fighter television series during the show’s third season.

Let’s take a look at both fighters’ wrestling backgrounds.

In high school, Henderson wrestled at both the 1987 and 1988 California State Wrestling Championships, and received medals there for his accomplishments.

The first part of Henderson’s collegiate career took place at Cal Stat Fullerton, and then at Arizona State, where he wrestled at the 1993 NCAA championships.

A year earlier he represented the country in the 1992 Olympics, and then again three years later at the 1996 Olympics.

Since his recent reentry into the UFC in 2007(Henderson participated in the late 90’s, when the UFC was still a single tournament, rather than a “league”) he has fought some of the best strikers and wrestlers. Among the ones he has beaten are Rousimar Palharis at UFC 88 and Rich Franklin at UFC 93.

Henderson made it very difficult for Palharis to get him on the ground, and when he did, Henderson showed superior wrestling skills. In the win against Rich Franklin, Henderson showcased his wrestling abilities by dominating Franklin on the ground for most of round 2, which was the decider in his split decision victoryInflatable Water Slide.

Bisping’s background in wrestling is not nearly as heralded as Henderson’s. Originally, he was a kick boxer who had some success and won a British light heavyweight kickboxing title. It was not until 2004 that Bisping entered the sport of MMA.

Bisping relied heavily on his kick boxing experience to carry him to 10 and 0 record in the Cage Warriors league, and made the transition into the UFC in 2006.

He was featured on The Ultimate Fighter, and received training under legendary fighter Tito Ortiz. Although he went on to win the show, he realized that expanding his ground game was crucial to his success in the UFC.

Bisping faced a three time NCAA D III wrestling champ in Matt Hamill at UFC 75, and came out with the split decision win. He showed good resilience to Hamill’s take downs, and a strong ability to get back to his feet. The Hamill fight proved to be one of his best ground-oriented fights.

Since then he has much improved. Bisping faced Rashad Evans at UFC. He took his only loss in the Evans fight, but demonstrated much-improved ability on the ground, only allowing 5 of 15 attempted takedowns as recorded by MMA Madness.

Bisping is also currently training with renowned wrestling coach Zach Lite of the famed, Wolfslair gym. Lite also trained UFC light heavyweight sensation, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Lite is also going to be a coach on The Ultimate Fighter season 10. He is very confident in Bisping’s refined wrestling skills. “He will take Dan Henderson down more than one time in the fight. He will, that’s how he is going to win the fight. That is how I see it. When they start trading I think Mike will win the scrambles,” Lite said in an interview with Fighters Only Magazine.

We will have to settle for making Comparisons and educated predictions while we wait for them to meet in the octagon on July 11th, at UFC 100. The fight is largely up in the air though, and it is anyone’s guess who will come out on top. This is part of the reason it is such a fan favorite. Will the former wrestling star, get the better of the ground action? Can the kick boxer come out on top with the win? Well, we will just have to wait to find out.

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The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 11 – Winner vs. Dollar, Pearson vs. Dent

Andre Winner submitted Cameron Dollar

Andre Winner submitted Cameron Dollar

The lightweight finale for TUF was set this week as Andre Winner and Ross Pearson punched in their tickets to an all-UK affair at the expense of Cameron Dollar and Jason Dent respectively.

In the first fight of today’s episode, Winner disposed to Dollar in quick and unexpected fashion with a triangle choke in the first round.

It was a sloppy fight initially, with Dollar swinging for the fences from the start while Winner responded with precision counter strikes. The decisive factor was Dollar’s inability to suck Winner into the ground game, as Winner muscled off Dollar’s takedowns and was unnerved by Dollar’s looping go-for-broke punches. Winner then took advantage of a desperate lunging takedown by Dollar to sweep into full mount. The mount was high, so the striker Winner switched to a triangle choke which hung dangerously loose for awhile. However, Dollar didn’t muster the strength to pull out of the hold, and Winner eventually locked it up and coaxed the tap from Dollar.

In the second fight, the veteren Dent finally turned up the heat against British slugger Pearson, fighting Pearson at his own game of non-stop striking in the first round. Pearson was up to the test and refused to back up, throwing strikes of his own which found their mark. Overall in the round Pearson landed more clean shots, but Dent ended the round with a strong flurry, making it a round nearly too close to call.

It was more of the same at the start of the second round, with both men exchanging punches and kicks. Pearson scored the first takedown of the match to escape a Dent flurry, but Dent made it back to his feet and continued to apply the pressure from strikes. However, a takedown attempt by Dent went wrong and Pearson ended the round by raining down blows from guard, taking away all the momentum that Dent had built up.

Ross Pearson won a decision over Jason Dent

Ross Pearson won a UD over Jason Dent

Convinced that Dent was behind on the scorecards, USA coach Dan Henderson implored Dent to finish the fight in the third and final round. However, Pearson came out of his corner full of confidence and brought the fight right up to Dent, hitting him with punches before taking him down once more. Pearson went on to punish the tired Dent from guard before grabbing side-back control when Dent tried to squirm back to his feet. From there it was all Pearson, who showed enough awareness to avoid all of Dent’s last-ditch submission attempts while still actively delivering strikes on the ground.  The fight ended with Pearson in dominant position, and while Dent finally showed what he could do, it was indeed Ross Pearson who took the unanimous decision.

Though the non-fight segments of the episode were kept short, listening to the Team UK fighters talk about what Jason Pierce had told them about Cameron Dollar’s striking tendencies was a nice reminder that trustworthiness is a factor when deciding which fighters you want in your camp.

TUF Finale Big Board

With only one episode remaining before the finale, both final fights look to be highly entertaining matchups.

Lightweight

The Favorite – Andre Winner

The Underdog – Ross Pearson

Winner will enter the TUF 9 ligthweight finale as the slight favorite due to his size and experience advantage. In a battle between two strikers who can also finish with submissions, Winner will need to impose his will on the smaller man both standing and on the ground. For Pearson, the key will be to once again push the pace and try to harass Winner into losing his composure.

Welterweight

The Favorite – Demarques Johnson

The Underdog – James Wilks/Frank Lester

No matter whoever wins the final fight next week, Johnson will enter the finale as a slight favorite against Wilks or a clear favorite against Lester. Johnson seems to have a complete game, but as his semi-final fight showed, he can be rattled by strikes that come fast and early. Lester, although tough as nails, lacks the technique to compete with Johnson, and Wilks will have to bring some ruthless aggression and not let Johnson settle into any kind of game plan.

Quote of the Show:

“I never suck my thumb in the house… only at nights… and sometimes in the van.”

Andre Winner, on his tendency to sometimes suck on his own thumb.

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 8 – Dent vs. Lawson, Pierce drops out

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

 

The final first-round matchup at lightweight pitted Team USA’s UFC vet Jason Dent against Team UK’s Jeff Lawson. In one of the strangest fights of the season, Dent prevailed via an anaconda choke in round two. With the first round of lightweight fights complete, Team UK still holds a 4-3 lead overall.
In other noteworthy news, Jason Pierce’s negativity was finally killed off by Dana White, who declared Pierce unfit to fight after Pierce failed to convince White that he was physically or mentally prepared to fight. A staph infection, coupled with Pierce’s seeming lack of will to tough out the circumstances, led White to pull the plug on Pierce, mercifully ending his sad-sack moping and any chance that Pierce would be labeled “The Ultimate Fighter”.
In this week’s fight, Lawson convincingly won the opening round, despite frequently dropping his hands in favor of trying high-impact strikes and slams. Dent never tried to capitalize, however, and Lawson turned a sloppy clinch into a sutemi waza-like takedown and kept top position for the rest of the round.

 

Lawson gassed badly in the second round however, making no effort to hold up his hands and lacking any kind of power in his strikes. Dent inexplicably failed to press, instead keeping up his methodical pacing and an occasional leg kick. Despite having no energy (a case of bronchitis earlier in the show was offered as an explanation by Michael Bisping), Lawson almost turned a leg-scissors into a heel hook before lunging into the arms of Dent, who gator-rolled Lawson and applied an anaconda choke for the win.

 

Needless to say, the sight of Lawson bent over gasping for air in the second round while Dent just stood there slowly circling made for a poor-quality TUF viewing experience. With Dent basically labeled borderline-uncoachable by Dan Henderson, one can see why Dent didn’t stick in the UFC during his two-fight tenure with the company in 2006-07.

Spike TV’s teaser of the next show promised a firecracker of a show, as Team USA selects another welterweight to fight David Faulkner, Demarques Johnson flips out on Bisping, and the Faulkner vs. ????? fight is revealed to go into a sudden-victory roundInflatable Arch.

TUF Top 3

The final four lightweights have been decided, but after two unconvincing performances, Jason Dent fails to break into the top three LWs.

Lightweight

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Welterweight

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Nick Osipczak – Team UK (Previous rank: 3)
    The first winner on the main show didn’t look overly impressive in doing so, but he showed a good chin in dealing with Mark Miller’s punches in the first round. Osipczak so far has not shown much technique, and instead seems to be coasting on his physical talents alone.

Quote of the Show:
“Physically I’m nothing to look at…I’m a ginger, for god’s sake.”

- Jeff Lawson on why some fighters might underestimate him.

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 5 – Winner vs. DeFranco, Amasinger vs. Johnson

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

In an episode featuring two fights, Team UK and “Team” USA split the fights one apiece, leaving Team UK still holding the overall lead at 2-1.

In the inaugural lightweight fight, Team UK’s Andre Winner defeated Team USA’s Santino DeFranco via G’n’P in round one. The second fight of the night saw Demarques Johnson finally put Team USA on the board with a first round submission of Dean Amasinger. Both winners looked very impressive in victory, and both coaches saw the fights that they picked come out in their favor.

Winner showed sharp stand-up and great upper-body strength, his fast hands neutralized DeFranco’s reach advantage. His striking kept DeFranco from finding his range, and when DeFranco tried to shoot in, Winner not only stuffed the takedowns, but throttled DeFranco to the mat in the process. In the end, Winner stopped a DeFranco takedown attempt, dragged his opponent to the cage wall, and pounded him out until the stoppage.

The fight between Johnson and Amasinger was also quickly ended by Johnson, who submitted Amasinger with a triangle choke, despite the UK fighter’s best efforts to slam out of the submission. Astute viewers probably saw Johnson’s triangle coming from a mile away, and even though Michael Bisping had previously warned Amasinger to beward of the triangle, to no avail. In any case, Johnson won quickly and provided the USA with its first win, while Amasinger stayed classy in defeat, despite the strange circumstances (see notes).

Again, two fights are slated to air on next week’s episode, and this time I will not foolishly try to speculate which fighters will be picked.

TUF Top 3

Which of the fighters are the front-runners to winning it all? As more and more fights occurs, the cream slowly rises to the top…

Lightweight

  1. Richie Whitson – Team USA (Previous rank: 1)
    The red-haired Alaskan, already nicknamed “Carrot Top” by internet fans, defeated Paul Bird via first round submission to earn the right to represent the USA. The Team Quest prospect showed good takedown defense and quick hands in his victory, making him the top standout so far from 155.
  2. Ross Pearson – Team UK (Previous rank: 2)
    Pearson looked quick and spry in his slugfest victory over AJ Wenn, battering Wenn with knees and punches until picking up a 2nd round TKO. On this week’s episode, Pearson was showing taking exception to Team USA members drawing on his wrestling shoes.
  3. Andre Winner – Team UK (Previous rank: n/a)
    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.

Dropped out: Jason Dent – Team USA

Welterweight

  1. 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 Dean wasn’t one of the top welterweights, Johnson’s finish was still convincing enough for him to keep the top spot.
  2. David Faulkner – Team UK (Previous rank: 2)
    When your own coach says that you’re “mentally weak”, it’s a red flag on your credentials that’s hard to ignore. Faulkner quickly finished James Bateman with a heel hook, but we won’t be able to see what the Wolfslair prospect is really made of until he’s put into some kind of peril inside the cage.
  3. Nick Osipczak – Team UK (Previous rank: 3)
    The first winner on the main show didn’t look overly impressive in doing so, but he showed a good chin in dealing with Mark Miller’s punches in the first round. Osipczak so far has not shown much technique, and instead seems to be coasting on his physical talents alone. Now at least, his KO win should make the other welterweights respect him a little more.

Notes:

  • Michael Bisping was MIA during Dean Amasinger’s fight against Demarques Johnson, a fact which was not lost on either Dan Henderson or Team UK. The tease for next week’s episode advertises Bisping’s explanation for his absence. Whatever Bisping’s reason may be, Henderson stated it best when he said that Amasinger was missing his head coach from his corner in the “biggest fight of his life”. The bottom line is that Bisping’s excuse for being truant better be good.
  • In the non-fighting portion of the show, Team USA members started turning on each other, as lightweight Cameron Dollar started to grow into the role of this season’s resident asshole; picking fights with his teammates while jovially recalling his story of sleeping with his buddy’s wife. Meanwhile, welterweight Jason Pierce’s reluctance to agree to Henderson’s plan for him to fight David Faulkner didn’t do his reputation any favors.
  • Quote of the Show:

    “I’m not trying to go rape or pillage anybody.”

    - Demarques Johnson, on his gameplan against Dean Amasinger.

    The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 4 – Nick Osipczak vs. Mark Miller

    The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

    The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

    Advantage, UK. 

    In a fight between two of the less-impressive welterweights on the show, Team UK’s Nick Osipczak defeated Team USA’s Mark Miller via a head kick in round two. The finish was ironic due to the fact that prior to the fight, Team USA Muay Thai coach and Pride FC veteran Cyrille “The Snake” Diabaté had told Miller that Osipczak possessed no knockout power in his legs.  

    In all fairness to Diabaté, Miller’s height disadvantage and sloppy hands left him pretty open to be put to sleep. It was a puzzling matchup choice by USA head coach Dan Henderson; Osipczak had a five-inch reach advantage on Miller, who never had much of a ground game to rely on in case he got out-struck.  

    Overall, it was a sloppy yet exciting fight where both men only sparingly listened to their corners. Osipczak at least showed the capacity to fight in both a “southpaw” (left-handed) stance and a traditional stance, a fact that Team UK head coach Michael Bisping used to his advantage. Neither man showed much takedown defense or head movement during their fight.  

    Two fights are slated to air on next week’s episode; if teaser footage is to be believed, it seems as though Frank Lester will be called on to be one of the fighters competing.  
     

    TUF Top 3 

    Which of the fighters are the front-runners to winning it all? Early days for sure, but it’s never too early to be keeping tabs on the early standouts.  

    Lightweight 

    1. Richie Whitson – Team USA (Previous rank: 1) 
      The red-haired Alaskan, already nicknamed “Carrot Top” by internet fans, defeated Paul Bird via first round submission to earn the right to represent the USA. The Team Quest prospect showed good takedown defense and quick hands in his victory, making him the top standout so far from 155.
    2. Ross Pearson – Team UK (Previous rank: 2) Pearson looked quick and spry in his slugfest victory over AJ Wenn, battering Wenn with knees and punches until picking up a 2nd round TKO. On this week’s episode, Pearson was showing taking exception to Team USA members drawing on his wrestling shoes. 
    3. Jason Dent – Team USA (Previous rank: 3) Dent’s win over Robert Browning was expected, yet not exactly impressive; faced with an undersized opponent whose best move was the Chuck Liddel-style hand-wave distraction, Dent came off as tentative to engage before stuffing a Browning takedown attempt and then teeing off with punches and knees until he got the TKO. However, Dent is the most experienced fighter on the show, and with two previous UFC fights on his resume, his experience in the big time against big opponents shouldn’t be overlooked.  

    Welterweight 

    1. Demarques Johnson –Team USA (Previous rank: 1) So far, the lightweights on the show look much more promising than most of the welterweights, but for now Johnson stands out with his quick G’n’P win over Ray Elbe in the prelims. An interesting dynamic on the show is that Johnson is shown to be the only American so far who seems to be actually affected by Bisping’s trash-talk.
    2. David Faulkner – Team UK (Previous rank: 2) When your own coach says that you’re “mentally weak”, it’s a red flag on your credentials that’s hard to ignore. Faulkner quickly finished James Bateman with a heel hook, but we won’t be able to see what the Wolfslair prospect is really made of until he’s put into some kind of peril inside the cage. An interesting note: his only professional MMA loss came against his current Team UK teammate Dean Amasinger via DQ in 2007.
    3. Nick Osipczak – Team UK (Previous rank: n/a) The first winner on the main show didn’t look overly impressive in doing so, but he showed a good chin in dealing with Mark Miller’s punches in the first round. Osipczak so far has not shown much technique, and instead seems to be coasting on his physical talents alone. Now at least, his KO win should make the other welterweights respect him a little more. 

    Dropped out: Frank Lester – Team USA 
     
    Notes: 

    • Besides Diabaté, the other notable coach is Team UK’s BJJ coach Mario “Sukata” Neto, whos 10-5 MMA record includes fights with Gary Goodridge, Dan Severn, Kevin Randleman, and a win over Kimbo-conquerer Seth Petruzelli. 
    • He was only briefly caught on camera, but the man in the black cap and leather jacket sitting next to Dana White during the fight between Osipczak and Miller was Japanese MMA star Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. White has said many times in the past that he hopes to bring Yamamoto stateside, most likely into the WEC and its featherweight division. Kid is scheduled to face Joe Warren at DREAM 9 in May.

    The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 3

    The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

    The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

    After the latest episode of TUF, the field of 16 fighters was finally complete, with Jason Dent and Frank Lester claiming the final two spots on Team USA at the expense of Robert Browning and Kiel Reid respectively.

    While most of the episode before the two fights was devoted to watching Robert Browning continue the fine Browning family tradition of acting like an ignorant redneck, viewers also got a brief look-in on the team training. Team USA coach Dan Henderson explains that he will be looking to train his team hard on wrestling; since wrestling isn’t a school sport in the UK, Henderson believes that Team USA will thoroughly outclass Team UK on the ground.

    Team UK coach Michael Bisping, on the other hand, goes straight for the hard sparring, trying to put his fighters through the same routine he would go through if preparing for a fight. 

    Going into next weeks episode, Team USA will have first selection of who fights who.  

    TUF Top 3 

    Which of the fighters are the front-runners to winning it all? Early days for sure, but it’s never too early to be keeping tabs on the early standouts.  

    Lightweight

    1. Richie Whitson – Team USA (Previous rank: n/a)

    The red-haired Alaskan, already nicknamed “Carrot Top” by internet fans, defeated Paul Bird via first round submission to earn the right to represent the USA. The Team Quest prospect showed good takedown defense and quick hands in his victory, making him the top standout so far from 155.

    1. Ross Pearson – Team UK (Previous rank: n/a)

    Pearson looked quick and spry in his slugfest victory over AJ Wenn, battering Wenn with knees and punches until picking up a 2nd round TKO. The pre-show buzz from the UK was with fellow lightweight Andre Winner, but Winner’s win was anything but dominant, so for now Pearson edges ahead as Team UK’s cream of the crop.

    1. Jason Dent – Team USA (Previous rank: n/a)

    Dent’s win over Robert Browning was expected, yet not exactly impressive; faced with an undersized opponent whose best move was the Chuck Liddel-style hand-wave distraction, Dent came off as tentative to engage before stuffing a Browning takedown attempt and then teeing off with punches and knees until he got the TKO. However, Dent is the most experienced fighter on the show, and with two previous UFC fights on his resume, his experience in the big time against big opponents shouldn’t be overlooked. 

    On the bubble: Andre Winner – Team UK 

    Welterweight 

    1. Demarques Johnson –Team USA (Previous rank: n/a)

    So far, the lightweights on the show look much more promising than most of the welterweights, but for now Johnson stands out with his quick G’n’P win over Ray Elbe in the prelims. Watching Michael Bisping get into his head with relative ease on this week’s episode was an added bonus.

    1. David Faulkner – Team UK (Previous rank: n/a)

    When your own coach says that you’re “mentally weak”, it’s a red flag on your credentials that’s hard to ignore. Faulkner quickly finished James Bateman with a heel hook, but we won’t be able to see what the Wolfslair prospect is really made of until he’s put into some kind of peril inside the cage. An interesting note: his only professional MMA loss came against his current Team UK teammate Dean Amasinger via DQ in 2007.

    1. Frank Lester – Team USA (Previous rank: n/a)

    Lester, a late replacement to face Kiel Reid for a spot on Team USA, was neither classy in victory nor overly impressive in his fight, but at the very least he was able to shrug off the takedowns of the Militech wrestler Reid. He showed good striking and looks huge for a welterweight, but the Mark Coleman-esque victory means Lester will have much more to prove.

     

    On the bubble: Santino Defranco – Team USA

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