It’s baaaaacck! (Oh, and I’m back too! Sorry for the baby break :P) Tonight marks the premiere of the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter which will showcase the United States vs. the United Kingdom, coached by Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping, respectively. From the leaks and previews I’ve seen so far, this season looks interesting to say the least. Dana White has already commented that this was the craziest season. How should we take that? I really don’t know. Considering the presence of Junie Browning last season and Jesse Taylor the season before, the craziness is going to be hard to top.
So, on to the premier. The show opens with flashes of all the previous TUF winners, all of whom were American, with the focus on Bisping as the only non-American to ever win the show (Season 3). This first episode will showcase how the British fighters are chosen. The first few minutes of the show are of Dana meeting up with an excited Michael Bisping (the UK coach) in England. The guys are all inside anxiously awaiting Dana’s arrival, which leads to Bisping commenting on the popularity of the UFC in the UK. Dana introduces himself and welcomes the guys to the show, explaining how there are 16 guys standing in front of him, but only 8 will fly to Vegas. There are 8 Lightweights and 8 Welterweights. It is determined that the guys will fight each other the next day at noon to determine who goes.
With no waste of time, we move right on to fight day. The guys are looking nervous as the American coaches (who at the time were not yet determined), Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson, make their entrance and take seats with Dana and Bisping. As soon as everyone is situated, the fights begin.
Gary Kelly v. Andre Winner
Is that English Kelly’s speaking?!?!?! I sure hope he fights better than he speaks (apologies to any British readers)!
Round 1: Both fighters come out very fast and furious (appropriate sponsor). They engage in some reckless swinging and kicking. They end up in the clinch against the fence exchanging knees. Good uppercuts from Kelly. A few vicious knees and body shots are exchanged. Kelly’s ribs are horribly red and they just look painful. Winner delivers a HUGE knee which drops Kelly and he’s out. After getting some oxygen, Kelly is back up and needs to have it explained to him how he was dropped. The kid thought he was dropped with a shot to the top of his head…wow.
Winner: Andre Winner by TKO
Jeff Lawson v. James Bryan
After the two are interviewed, Dan Henderson is heard joking that a lot of subtitles are going to be needed this season. He took the words right out of my mouth!
Round 1: Quick to exchange, Lawson gets Bryan on his back and is in half guard. He lands some good punches and is trying to posture for the full mount. Bryan attempts an armbar, but Lawson turns out of it. Lawson ends up in side control, and then works back into the half guard. Lawson gets himself sitting on Bryan’s head, but Bryan gets himself out. Lawson regains control and submits Bryan via armbar.
Winner: Jeff Lawson by Submission (armbar)
Che Mills v. James Wilks
Round 1: Both come out swinging, and swinging hard. Mills gets Wilks on his back pretty quickly and is landing solid punches, but Wilks turns the tides and gets Mills into a heel hook. Mills taps. This was a blink and you’ll miss it fight. Many are disappointed, as Mills was a favorite.
Winner: James Wilks by Submission (heel hook)
Martin Stapleton v. Dan James
I would tell you what Stapleton said as he was being interviewed, but his disturbingly cauliflowered ear was a serious distraction. And I only understood one word out of James’ mouth: Wales.
Round 1: The two do a little dancing and Stapleton starts swinging. Stapleton goes for and gets the takedown. In half guard, neither are doing much of anything. Ho hum…… finally, Stapleton swings around and takes James’ back. He rolls and gets the full mount and lands some vicious punches. James rolls again and Stapleton gets his back. Stapleton gets the hooks in for the rear naked choke and after continued pressure, James taps.
Winner: Martin Stapleton by Submission (rear naked choke)
AJ Wenn v. Ross Pearson
These two were characters, but I think I’ll keep my comments about them to myself….might be safer that way!
Round 1: Some dancing….finally some leg kicks from Wenn and Pearson goes on the offensive. They clinch with Wenn against the fence. They exchange some knees and it looks like Wenn is trying to take Pearson down. Pearson does a nice sweep and gets Wenn down, but he’s immediately back up in the clinch. Not a lot of action in the clinch. Wenn doesn’t seem to use his height advantage. Good knees from Wenn and he goes for another takedown which fails. Now Pearson attempts it and slams Wenn. They are back up to where they were before. Nice jab from Pearson. Pearson gets in some great knees. Wenn goes for and gets the takedown, but Pearson is on top. Wenn tries to get him in a choke, but Pearson slips out. Back up and clinching, both seem pretty winded. Pearson ends up on his back and Wenn goes for a big punch, but Pearson kicks Wenn solidly in the face and gets back up. The kick rattled Wenn and Pearson goes for the attack. The round ends in the clinch and both Dana and Bisping comment that the bell saved Wenn who looks CLEARLY out of it.
Round 2: The coaches are questioning whether or not Wenn will come back in. He does and just looks lost. He attempts some leg kicks, but Pearson comes at him with a HUGE right that quickly drops Wenn (at which point it should’ve been stopped). Pearson jumps on him and keeps the fists coming until Miragliotta stops the fight.
Winner: Ross Pearson by TKO
Tommy Maguire v. Nick Osipczak
Round 1: Good head kick to start from Osipczak, but both look tentative. They clinch and Maguire gets Osipczak down. From his feet he lands some good punches, but Osipczak lands a great head kick from his back. Maguire tries to mount, but can’t. Back up on their feet they clinch and Maguire lands a good knee. Osipczak is crouched and Maguire pulls Osipczak down on top of him. Osipczak is in Maguire’s guard. Osipczak lands some good punches. Not much is really happening for a while so Miragliotta stands them up. Osipczak lands some DAMAGING kicks and punches, but with little power behind them. He drops Maguire with a knee to the chin and Maguire is OUT.
Winner: Nick Osipczak by TKO
Alex Reid v. Dean Amasinger
Another couple of characters…oh boy…
This fight is already fast-forwarded and we are given Bisping’s commentary on each round. In round 1, Reid controlled the fight and the coaches comment how Amasinger clearly lacks experience. Round 2 was much of the same kind of thing, Dean took Reid down, but Reid caught Dean in a triangle. However, he escaped it. All the judges are shocked. Reid is very vocal during the fight, constantly egging Dean on. With no clear winner, the fight goes to sudden victory. In the final round, there’s a lot of swinging, but both are visibly tired. Dean landed a lot of his shots but still went for the takedown. He probably could’ve finished it standing, but he ends up getting caught in another triangle. The round ends before Reid could finish it.
Winner: Dean Amasinger by Decision (who collapses in exhaustion after the announcement is made)
James Bateman v. David Faulkner
Round 1: Bateman comes out strong but Faulkner goes for the immediate takedown. It is not really successful and they end up clinching. Bateman lands some solid knees. Faulkner turns the table and pins Bateman against the fence for some nice dirty boxing. They return to standup and clinch in the center. Bateman has solid knees. Faulkner gets Bateman on his back and is controlling him. Faulkner turns his control into a heel hook and Bateman taps nearly instantly.
(This makes Bisping VERY happy, as Faulkner trains at the Wolfs Lair with him)
Winner: David Faulkner via Submission (heel hook)
After all is said and done, Dana is impressed with the UK fighters and notes that they’re all fired up with the killer instinct. He (and I!) hopes the US fighters are equally as ready. He then addresses the guys, congratulating those who made it, thanking (and saying goodbye to) those who didn’t. Bisping hands out his team jerseys and welcomes the guys to the team. The guys talk about looking for respect in the US and smashing the Americans. Bisping thinks they’re going to blow the US team away. Personally, I sure hope not.
In the scenes for the next show, it is the Americans’ turn. Dana is back in Vegas for the Team USA fights, but it seems like the team is having trouble right from the start — there are guys fainting, not making weight, etc. There is a very disappointing team coming I fear!
Overall, the first episode proved to be very interesting. The Brits are definitely scrappers and Dana was not joking about the killer instinct. Some of these guys are not “all there” in the head and may provide a challenge for the Americans. I can’t wait until next week to see who will be defending our country’s honor.