Posts tagged: The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9

Guillotine or Triangle: Who Will be Victorious in UFC 104?

The Ultimate Fighting Championship hosts its 104th event October 24, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  The main event fight card shows match ups between welterweights Anthony Johnson and Yoshiyuki Yoshida, heavyweights Cain Velasquez and Ben Rothwell, lightweights Gleison Tibau and Josh Neer, Joe “Daddy” Stevenson and Spencer “The King” Fisher, and light heavyweight championship bout between Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua.  Set to air on Pay-Per-View, and just about every solid sports bar in town, UFC 104 will be a match-up worth watching.

Stevenson boasts a 30-10 record and two killer chokes; the Guillotine and Rear Naked Chokes.  He entered the TV reality show The Ultimate Fighter 2 as one of the more experienced welterweight fighters.  Prior to the show, Stevenson held the 155 lb (70 kg). championship at King of the Cage and the 170 lb (77 kg). at Gladiator Challenge.  He won The Ultimate Fighter 2 Welterweight Tournament and went on to drop weight and begin his career as a lightweight fighter.

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He defeated his last opponent, former Ultimate Fighter winner Nate Diaz, by unanimous decision at the Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale.  Stevenson was the superior wrestler and established control for the majority of the fight.  This fight earned Fight of the Night honors.  Check out the fight below.

Next, Stevenson is set to match up against Fisher, an older but less experienced fighter.

Fisher (23-4) entered the UFC world in Ultimate Fight Night 2 where he won by submission over Thiago Alves in the second round.  He defeated his last opponent, MMA veteran fighter Caol Uno, by unanimous decision in UFC 99: The Comeback.  Fisher boasts an effective triangle choke as well as 11 wins by TKO.

This match-up between two experienced fighters is sounding like a must-see.  While Stevenson has a few good chokes he can throw, he’s also been caught in them before.  Both fighters won their last match by decision.  Both have only been knocked out once in their career.  In this case, Fisher has a stronger recent past, winning his last 3 matches, while Stevenson shows two losses before his last victory.  It may be a grappling match to the end, resulting in a decision dependent upon who gets lucky enough to make their choke first.  Occasionally, there’s a clear winner.  This time, it could be any man in the Octagon.

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 12 – Wilks vs. Lester II

In the last episode of The Ultimate Fighter 9: US vs. UK, foes-turned-friends James Wilks and Frank Lester once again faced off, this time with a spot in the welterweight finale on the line. In the end, Team UK’s Wilks once again put Team USA’s Lester away to advance to the finale and face Demarques Johnson for TUF 9′s welterweight title. In the country-versus-country tally, Team UK enters the finale with a 3 fighters as opposed to USA’s single one.

TUF: Season 9 UK vs USA

TUF: Season 9 UK vs USA

The first round was a slow and tentative affair where Wilks used his reach advantage to pick away at Lester. The clinches against the fence provided nothing of note, while Wilks seemed fine with dropping his hands and inviting Lester to try and take a swing at him.

An accidental low blow started off the second round, but after that, Wilk’s straight jab continued to hurt Lester. Lester’s hands couldn’t match Wilk’s reach, and Wilks’ strikes continued to get through Lester’s defense. Lester managed to keep the fight standing and defended the takedown well enough, but Wilks was content to initiate and let the jabs add up on Lester as the round ended.

Lester came out swinging in round three, but Wilks caught him early and once again pushed Lester up against the fence. In a case of deja vu, Wilks made Lester feel his knees once again, until Lester could take no more punishment and was saved by the ref.

It was a well-executed game plan by Team UK and Wilks, who exploited Lester’s obvious lack of technique and fatigue from his previous fights. Wilks never tried too hard for the takedown, but was instead confident enough in his striking to finish Lester without taking much damage.

TUF Finale – With both finale matchups now set, who will walk out with the UFC contracts?

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

Johnson will enter the finale as a slight favorite against Wilks. 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. Wilks will have to bring some ruthless aggression and not let Johnson settle into any kind of game plan. Both men are good on the ground, so stand-up prowess might make all the difference in this matchup.

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 10 – Johnson vs. Osipczak

TUF: Season 9 UK vs USA

TUF: Season 9 UK vs USA

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.

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. He will face Jason Dent next week for a spot in the finale.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 9 – Faulkner vs. Lester

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

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 winnerFree Shipping.

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 casino online spot in the finale.

TUF Top 3

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

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 7 – Pearson vs. Whitson

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

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

Two of TUF 9’s early lightweight favorites were paired against each other in the latest round of lightweight fights, with Team UK’s Ross Pearson scoring a quick yet somewhat controversial victory over Team USA’s Ritchie Whitson. Team UK now has a commanding 4-2 lead over the USA.

 

In a matchup of two high-energy fighters, both fighters let fly with strikes before an illegal knee by Pearson temporarily stopped the fight. After the restart, Pearson muscled his way into Whitson’s clinch and executed multiple slams, before an armbar from back control finished off Whitson in the first round.

It was an unfortunate turn of events for Whitson, who wasn’t able to follow up his impressive showing in the prelims with another victory. Not only did he take a knee to the face while grounded, but a contagious rash had kept him out of most of his training the week prior to his fight. In hindsight, Team UK’s matchup choice of Pearson to take on Whitson came at the perfect time.

Neither Pearson nor Whitson had gotten much “face time” on the show prior to this week, and before the fight announcement, the strange rash on Whitson’s face had almost gotten more coverage time than both fighter put together.

In a somewhat more bizarre occurrence, David Faulkner spoiled Team UK’s original matchup choice by injuring himself with a sledgehammer, which was present due to a Team UK exercise which involved taking a sledgehammer and hitting a truck tire with it. According to Michael Bisping, the exercise helps build core strength, but watching some of the UK fighters clumsily handle the hammer seemed to suggest that the exercise isn’t worth the potential mishaps usually associated with swinging hammers around.

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. Ross Pearson – Team UK (Previous rank: dropped out)
    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: 3)
    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: n/a)
    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. This week’s episode saw Dollar have a mini-emotional-breakdown, bringing up more questions about his mental makeup heading into the next round.

Dropped out: Ritchie Whitson – 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 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. Now at least, his KO win should make the other welterweights respect him a little more.

Quote of the Show:
“This is going to be a good fight, Ross Pearson versus Shaun White…”

- Dana White, on the Pearson/Whitson matchup.

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 6 – Dollar vs. Stapleton, Lester vs. Wilks

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

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

The majority of this week’s episode of TUF was devoted to the two fights that took place, with Team USA and Team UK once again splitting the victories. Team UK still holds the overall lead at 3-2.

In a lightweight match, Team USA’s Cameron Dollar defeated Team UK’s Martin Stapleton with a rear naked choke in round one. The second fight of the night had both limbs and teeth flying, with Team UK’s James Wilks triumphing over Team USA’s Frank Lester due to verbal submission.
Dollar was shown in the lead-up to the fight to being something close to a nervous wreck, but in a classic styles-make-fights example, Dollar managed to run the ground gauntlet against Stapleton, who’s lack of ground prowess left him helpless against Dollar’s wrestling. Dollar reversed a Stapleton takedown attempt, secured back control and eventually choked out Stapleton with plenty of time to spare in round oneinflatable toys.

In a welterweight clash, Wilks restored Team UK’s lead by winning a slugfest over Lester. In this fight, Lester’s inexperience showed; even though brawling and stand-up were his best weapons, Lester never bothered with defense or head movement, leaving him open to the clinch of the longer-reaching Englishman. Wilks, who has won all of his professional MMA fights via submission, was able to close the distance and clinch at will before delivering a devastating knee which knocked several of Lester’s teeth out. From there on out, Lester was easy pickings for Wilks, who manhandled his opponent until securing a verbal submission out of an armbar.

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. Andre Winner – Team UK (Previous rank: 3)
    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: n/a)
    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. While his victory was impressive due to its quickness, his weak stand-up and questionable frame of mind wont have any other of the lightweights shaking in their boots.

Dropped out: Ross Pearson – Team UK

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. Now at least, his KO win should make the other welterweights respect him a little more.

Dropped out: David Faulkner – Team UK

Quote of the Show:
“We all hate you too, you old grumpy f**k”

- Cameron Dollar, while overhearing Jason Pierce telling Mark Miller and Dean Amasinger about how much he dislikes Dollar.

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.

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