In the first welterweight semi-final, Team USA’s Demarques Johnson grabbed the first spot in the finale by winning a slugfest against Team UK’s Nick Osipczak.
At the start of the show, the semi-final matchups were set by the head coaches and UFC President Dana White. The lightweight matchups were Andre Winner against Cameron Dollar while Jason Dent would face Ross Pearson. The welterweight matchups were a rematch between Frank Lester and James Wilks, while Osipczak was paired with Johnson.
The fight this week was an absolute gem, where the underdog Osipczak gave the welterweight favorite Johnson all he could handle. In the first round, Johnson started strong, peppering Osipczak with punches while scoring takedowns. However, Osipczak was game, landing hard elbows from bottom position while fighting off multiple attempts by Johnson to take mount. At the end of the round, Osipczak caught Johnson with a big uppercut while getting up from the ground, and the round ended with a flurry of punches from both men, with both connecting more than once with shots to their opponent’s face, with Osipczak getting the better of the late exchange.
Despite Johnson still showing the effects of the brawl from round one, stand-up fighter Osipczak foolishly went for a takedown at the start of round two, a takedown which was easily turned into top position by Johnson. Johnson tried to both ground-and-pound and then lock a kimura, but Osipczak again avoided taking major punishment on the ground until giving up back mount. Johnson, for some reason, didn’t go for a choke, but rode out the round raining punches down on Osipczak, who did little more than cover up.
In the decisive round three, Osipczak (after answering the bell defiantly) was again on the receiving end of jabs and punches from Johnson. With both men gassed, Johnson secured another takedown, but was rolled over after trying to take mount again. Unfortunately, Osipczak had no strength left to deliver any more effective strikes, leaving Johnson to win the well-earned decision.
The next episode will feature both lightweight semi-finals, and hopefully those future bouts will be able to match the excitement of the fight from this week.
TUF Top 3
Demarques Johnson claims the first spot in the finale, while both lightweight spots will be filled by next week.
- 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. He will face Jason Dent next week for a spot in the finale.
- 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 Cameron Dollar next week.
- 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. He will have his hands full with Andre Winner in next week’s episode.
- 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 and decision victory over Nick Osipczak. Johnson might have to work a little on his cardio, but is still the clear favorite to claim the welterweight TUF 9 title.
- 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. A rematch with Frank Lester for a spot in the finale beckons next.
- Frank Lester – Team USA (Previous rank: 3)
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, where he will once again meet James Wilks.
Quote of the Show:
“Yeah I want to fight Dent…. He’s a fucking crybaby.”
- Cameron Dollar, on why he would rather fight Jason Dent in the semi-finals than either of Team UK’s fighters.