Posts tagged: ultimate fighter

Wolfslair Academy, Growing Roster and Reputation

Quickly established as arguably the top facility and fight team in Europe, Wolfslair MMA Academy is now gaining a strong reputation as one of the leading gyms in the MMA world today.

Michael Bisping training at Wolfslair

Wolfslair Academy is a gym located in Widnes, United Kingdom, which has both produced and recently signed several UFC stars and other elite level fighters.

Co-owners and managers Anthony McGann and Lee Gwynn established the fight team as MMA fans with the goal of creating the top MMA facility in the U.K. They quickly achieved their goal and the facility continues to grow.

The gym gained notoriety primarily due to its signing of U.K. based UFC star Michael Bisping. Bisping’s appearance as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) created recognition for the gym, because several of its staff members were featured as trainers on the show.

With the recent signings of former UFC light-heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and heavyweight Cheick Kongo, the gym added two huge names and talented fighters to its roster. These signings have attracted new fighters to the gym for training purposes, as well as more publicity, and sponsorship and endorsement opportunities.

Rampage and Dave Jackson

The trainers at Wolfslair Academy are not internationally recognized MMA figures like the staff of many top-level gyms in the U.S. However, the team’s trainers are extremely experienced and have many achievements within their fields, making them very effective coaches and gaining them praise from fighters.

Wolfslair’s talented training staff, access to the public, and its appeal to traveling fighters and prospective fighters in Europe are its main strengths. These factors contribute greatly to the gym’s rapid growth and success as a business.

The head coach at Wolfslair is Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo black belt Mario “Sukata” Neto. Neto, the gym”s jiu-jitsu coach, is a one-fight UFC veteran and holds a 10-5 professional MMA record against top-level opponents. Neto has many accomplishments in the world of martial arts, including winning the grand masters in BJJ, winning a Vale Tudo championship in Russia and earning a third-degree black belt in BJJ. He was featured as one of Bisping”s coaches on TUF.

Boxing coach Tony Quigley and his son Tony Quigley Jr. are an integral part of the gym”s coaching staff. Rampage was impressed by the instruction of online casino Quigley and his son upon coming to train at Wolfslair, and now spends a substantial amount of his time working with them. Junior Olympic gold medalist Tony Quigley Jr. is a professional boxer with a record of 13-2.

Rampage and Kongo with Tapout members in Wolfslair apparel

Thai boxing coach Dave Jackson is renowned within the muay thai community for his expertise as a coach and his uniquely effective style of muay thai. Jackson has worked extensively with Rampage and Kongo. Kongo was very impressed with Jackson”s style of muay thai and instruction while initially training at Wolfslair, and he has now refined his skills training under him. Jackson was featured as one of Bisping”s coaches on TUF.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and 3-1 professional MMA fighter Kazeka Muniz is Wolfslair”s wrestling coach. Gwynn is the gym”s strength and conditioning coach in addition to being a co-owner.

The gym currently holds a roster with several UFC veterans, including Michael Bisping, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Cheick Kongo, Paul Kelly, and Mario “Sukata” Neto. Other notable fighters include Alex Cook, Tom Blackledge, Lukasz Les, Henrique Nogueira, Curt Warburton and Abdul Mohamed. Many top-level fighters travel to Wolfslair for training purposes, including Andre Arlovski, Ian Freeman, Dean Lister, Tiki Ghosn and Ricco Rodriguez.

Rampage recently took a leave from the UFC to star in the upcoming film, “The A Team.” A dispute with UFC President Dana White also contributed to his decision. Rampage coached the most recent season of TUF along with Rashad Evans. The two light-heavyweights are scheduled to fight on May 29 at UFC 114 in Las Vegas, Nev.

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Paul Kelly is 1-1 since making the move to the UFC lightweight division. Kelly looks to improve his record when he faces Matt Veach on April 10 at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.

After going 9-2 since his UFC debut, Cheick Kongo has lost his last two fights to top heavyweights Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir. Kongo hopes to avenge his losses and get back in the title picture with a win over Paul Buentello in the upcoming UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones on Mar. 23 in Broomfield, Colorado.

Cheick Kongo Training with Michael Bisping & Teammates @ Wolfslair (2008)

A Legend is Stopped, Others Rebound at UFC 110

Rising star Cain Velasquez defeated the legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in dominating fashion in the main event of UFC 110 on Saturday to secure a spot as a top contender for the UFC heavyweight title.

Velasquez v. Nogueira

The two ground specialists exchanged in a brief standup battle in the Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia.  Velasquez landed a combo, which sent Nogueira to the canvas and he quickly followed up with vicious ground and pound that left Nogueria unconscious.  Referee Herb Dean called for a knockout stoppage, putting an end to the contest at 2:20 in the first round.

“We’ll see what happens with Mir and Carwin – see who wins that – and if the guys come out unscathed, they’ll fight for the title,” said UFC president Dana White at the post-fight press conference.  ”If not, then Cain Velasquez will get that spot.”

Velasquez’s performance earned him “Knockout of the Night” honors along with a $50,000 bonus.

The co-main event featured another legendary brazilian fighter and Pride FC champion in Wanderlei Silva, who squared off against Michael Bisping.  The contest saw both fighters standing and exchanging for the majority of the fight.

Bisping took Silva down several times in the first and second rounds, but was unable to keep him down once on the ground.  Silva caught him in a tight arm-in guillotine off of a Bisping takedown attempt with about 15 seconds left in the second round, but was unable to force a tap.

Silva v. Bisping

Bisping landed two fouls which briefly stopped the action in the middle of the third round: first a kick to the cup of Silva and then a finger to the eye.  Silva took the offensive, coming out swinging for the fences in the last two minutes of the fight.  Silva rushed Bisping and landed a right hook to drop him just before the final bell.

Silva was awarded a unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the contest 29-28 in his favor.

Bisping disagreed with the official decision. “It’s a close fight, but personally, I thought I won rounds one and two,” he said during the post-fight conference.  He also stated that he would love a rematch with Silva in the future.

Australian native George Sotiropoulos defeated Joe Stevenson by unanimous decision in a thrilling and extremely technical match.  Sotiropoulos controlled the fight on the feet, dropping Stevenson in the second and put him in several dangerous situations on the ground utilizing his superior submission game.

All three judges scored the contest 30-27 in a dominant victory for Sotiropoulos.  The match was named the “Fight of the Night” and earned both fighters a $50,000 bonus.

The Ultimate Fighter season eight winner Ryan Bader took down and controlled Keith Jardine on the ground in the first round of the second main-card fight.  Jardine controlled the second round with strong punches and leg kicks and was able to stuff the takedown attempts of Bader.

Bader landed a right hand that hurt Jardine in the third and quickly followed up with a flying knee to the body and a left hook, which dropped Jardine to the canvas.  Referee Josh Rosenthal called for a knockout stoppage, putting an end to the fight at 2:10 of the third round.

Cro Cop v. Perosh

In the first main card fight Croatian legend and Pride FC champion Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic faced overmatched Australian native Anthony Perosh.  Cro Cop was originally scheduled to face former IFL champion Ben Rothwell who was forced to withdraw just days before the event due to illness.  Perosh took the fight on two days notice.

Cro Cop controlled the fight, landing devastating strikes in the standup and denying Perosh’s numerous takedown attempts.  Perosh continually went for the takedown only to end up in Cro Cops sprawl and to receive brutal ground and pound.

Cro Cop landed a powerful elbow from inside the guard, opening up a cut above Perosh’s eye with about a minute left in the second round.  Cro Cop was awarded a TKO (cut) victory at the end of the second round after a dominant performance.

The “Submission of the Night” along with a $50,000 bonus was awarded to Chris Lytle who countered a takedown from Brian Foster to lock in a kneebar, putting an end to the preliminary card bout at 1:41 of the first round.

UFC 110 marked the organizations first trip to Australia and proved extremely successful for the UFC.  The event saw the second-fastest ticket sell-out in the 16-year history of the UFC.  Dana White announced his intentions to return, to Melbourne, Australia for an event in 2011, during the post-fight press conference.

UFC 110 – FULL

Coleman attempts to put Team Hammer House back on center stage

Mark “The Hammer” Coleman’s Team Hammer House has fallen on hard times as of late.  However, Coleman hopes to turn the trend around as he meets another MMA great and fellow UFC Hall of Famer Randy “The Natural” Couture this weekend at UFC 109 Relentless.

Team Hammer House is a MMA team operating out of Columbus, Ohio, focused on amateur wrestling, and made up of mostly former NCAA wrestlers.  The team has cross training deals with notable fighters and camps such as Matt Serra, Pat Miletich, and Xtreme Couture MMA.

The main strengths of Team Hammer House are its wrestling and ground-and-pound.  Coleman is credited with being one of the first American MMA fighters to successfully use the strategy of ground-and-pound, which has earned him the nickname of the “Godfather of Ground-and-Pound.”

Coleman, the founder of Team Hammer House, holds numerous accomplishments in the world of professional MMA.  He is a UFC Hall of Famer, the first ever UFC heavyweight champion, and the winner of the UFC 10 tournament, UFC 11 tournament, and 2000 Pride openweight GP tournament.  Coleman, like many of his teammates at Hammer House, is a former NCAA collegiate wrestler.

Team Hammer House holds a roster with several prominent fighters, including four UFC veterans: two of whom are former UFC champions. The team’s notable fighters include: Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Wes Sims and Branden Lee Hinkle.  Phil Baroni, a UFC, Pride and Strikeforce veteran, is a former member of Team Hammer House.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman is a senior member of  Team Hammer House. Randleman, a former collegiate wrestler and two time Division I NCAA champion, was defeated by Mike Whitehead via unanimous decision in June of 2009 during his Strikeforce debut at Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields.  The fight marked his first fight in over a year due to a shoulder injury, as well as his first fight in America in nearly seven years.  In his most recent fight Randleman was defeated by Stanislav Nedkov via split decision at World Victory Road Presents: Sengoku 11.

Wes Sims, three-fight UFC veteran  and The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights cast member, recently fought Bobby Lashley on the main card of Strikeforce: Miami. Sims was stopped in the first round via technical knock out (2:06).

Branden Lee Hinkle, three-fight UFC veteran and NCAA Division II national wrestling champion, was stopped by Chris Tuchscherer in round 4 (4:43) of his most recent fight at SNMMA: Beatdown at Four Bears. Hinkle has lost four of his last five fights after going undefeated in his previous nine matches.

Coleman scored a unanimous decision victory over Stephan Bonner in his last fight at UFC 100 after falling to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua via technical knock out in the third round (4:36) at UFC93.  He is currently training with Team Hammer House in preparation for his match with Randy Couture this Saturday Feb. 6 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, NV.

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Live pay-per-view coverage of UFC 109 will begin at 10 p.m. EST.

Fighters Shine at Strikeforce, Team Continues to Gain Credibility

Strikeforce: Miami saw a nice reception in the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. The Showtime spectacular featured many up-and-coming fighters, but one team, and one particular fighter, is standing out.

Rated as the number one grappling competition team in Florida since 2000, and, according to UFC commentator Joe Rogan, “the best MMA camp in the country,” American Top Team (ATT) continues to grow.

American Top Team Facilities. Image Courtesy of ATTAltitude.com

American Top Team Facilities

With a headquarters in Coconut Creek, Fla., ATT has over 1,000 members, including names like Jorge Santiago, Hector Lombard, Kimbo Slice, Mike Brown and former professional wrestler, Bobby Lashley. To top it all off, the team is built around a core group of instructors with impressive resumes – a defining factor in the notoriety and credibility of ATT.

Founded by former Brazilian Top Team members Ricardo Liborio and Marcus Silveira, and financed/oversaw by Dan Lambert (a hotel executive), ATT built a 20,000-foot headquarters, and has expanded to 20 franchises and affiliate gyms. Liborio, a NAGA Grappling hall-of-famer, remains the Head Instructor. He is backed by 1976 Olympic Gold Medal boxer, Howard Davis Jr. (Head Boxing Coach), Strength and Conditioning coach Stefane Davis, who has a masters degree in Strength and Conditioning Preparation of Elite Athletes, and BJJ instructors Jonatas Gurgel and Marcos Da Matta.

Da Matta, along with Lashley and two other competitors were recently sent to Strikeforce: Miami to compete.

In the undercard, two welterweights from ATT competed, splitting 1-1. Sabah Homasi (2-1-0) was defeated for the first time by John Kelly via submission on a rear naked choke in the second round (2:48).

Also in welterweight action was Hayder Hassan (3-1-0), who handed Ryan Keenan his first professional loss with a technical knockout in the second round (2:42). All three of Hassan’s victories have come by technical knockout, showing his fine ability to pummel his opponents with his hands.

In featherweight action, Da Matta, who was undefeated prior to the event, fell to Pablo Alfonso, submitting to a straight armbar in the first round (1:47). Da Matta was able to bring the fight to the ground, but was quickly put in the defensive, where Alfonso moved from a guillotine choke to the armbar that decided Da Matta’s fate.

Finally, and most notably, Bobby Lashley competed in the heavyweight main card event, squaring off against Wes Sims, who was most recently featured on the television series The Ultimate Fighter. Lashley (5-0) remains undefeated after taking Sims out with a technical knockout in the first round (2:06). The fight was stopped after Lashley put Sims in the defensive and delivered a round of blows.YouTube Preview Image

U of Combat will surely be following ATT competitors very closely in the coming months, as they are proving to be among some of the elite in the nation. You can visit their website by clicking here.

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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From UFC 1 to 100: Evolution of the UFC

To see athletes of different or similar fighting practices challenge each other – that has always been the goal behind the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

That goal has come a long way since the UFC’s conceptual development in 1991. The original concept was a single event tournament to discover the world’s best fighting style. The tournament aired in 1993, and was a mini-success, with nearly 90,000 Pay Per View buys. At the time the tournament aired, the entire concept of “mixed martial arts,” as we know it today, did not really exist. The tournament placed athletes of only one fighting art against each another, pitting boxers against Karate, and wrestlers against jiu jitsu and everything in between. Most times, fighters did not know what to do to handle the other opponent as they had never faced someone of that particular art, and the matches were often lacking in entertainment value. Another problem also existed. There were no weight classes, usually setting opponents together with huge size differentials. While this proved to be entertaining at times, this was not practical, especially if the UFC had any desire to be a legitimate organization.

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Due to its success, the UFC became a recurring tournament, but many aspects of the tournament needed to be addressed. With a tag-line that read “there are no rules!” and “fighting techniques” such as hair pulling, groin strikes and head butting allowed; the UFC had to revamp it’s entire concept if there was any hope in becoming a permanent fixture in the sporting community.

The tournament had aired five times but in 1995, it started to gain negative popularity, attracting wide press coverage from all over the nation, most of it very unfavorable. Political action was quickly taken against the UFC, and Senator John McCain led the campaign, calling the UFC “human cock fighting.” It was dropped shortly after by major cable and pay per view providers, and in 1997, 36 states had banned no-holds-barred fighting. The UFC was launched into the abyss of sports, thought by many to never be seen again.

However, in response to all the criticism, and much to the surprise of many, the UFC began to cooperate with state athletic commissions. The transformation of the UFC into a legitimate sporting event began to take place. The rules were revamped, eliminating the “dirty” aspects of the tournament like hair pulling, groin shots, and head butting, as well as putting an emphasis on the core elements of the UFC as we know it today; striking, grappling, and punching. With UFC 12 came the introduction of weight classes, UFC 14 mandatory gloves, UFC 15 the banning of strikes to the back of the head and neck, and UFC 21 the introduction of 5 minute rounds. By 1999, the UFC had evolved into a full-fledged sport, almost ready to be accepted by both politicians, and the sporting community. With UFC 28 in 2000, the final step was taken in legitimizing the UFC as an athletic organization, and the New Jersey State Athletic Commission sanctioned the event.

In 2001 the UFC was sold to Zuffa LLC and Dana White. With UFC 33 in September of that year, came it’s returned to main stream cable television and PPV. With effective advertisement and a partnership with the Spike TV network in 2005 for the development of the currently running show, The Ultimate Fighter, now in season 9, the UFC quickly gained mainstream popularity.

On July 11th, UFC 100 is scheduled to take place, and will mark a very important milestone for the UFC. Sixteen years and 100 events since its creation in 1993; from a no-holds-barred tournament with sumo wrestlers and kick boxers to what it is known as today. The card will be headlined by Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar. Ten other fights are on both combined main, and undercard, for an event that is sure to out do the last; something the UFC seems to accomplish with all their recent events.

Despite much adversity, the UFC is the quickest growing sport in American and a far cry from its early no-holds-barred days. It is no longer just a tournament but a multimillion dollar organization and mainstream sporting event. The fighters that participate in the UFC are no longer athletes of two very different fighting arts. This current generation of fighters has a very mixed array of skills, and study everything from wrestling to Jiu Jitsu. The UFC is beginning to reach global audiences, and recently held its first event, UFC 99 early this month, in mainland Europe. With good fights, smart advertising, and entertaining television, the UFC’s future is very bright.

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

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