Episode 11: More Ups, Less Downs
Previously on TUF, the semifinals begin and Damarques Johnson gets the decision win over Nick Osipczak to give the Americans the first slot in the finals. Tonight, the first of the lightweight semis pits Cameron Dollar vs. Andre Winner. Then we’ll see who is triumphant between Ross Pearson and James Dent.
Tonight’s episode begins at Team US Training. Henderson discusses his plan for Cameron, which involves starting on his feet, then taking Winner to the ground to finish. Unfortunately for Cameron, his ribs were hurt at some point in the week, are now very tender and causing trouble for him. Hendo wants Cameron to stand up and bang with his sparring partner, but not be stupid and hurt his ribs. Of course, the ribs become an issue. Cameron is afraid of getting hit in the ribs because he’s afraid he’s gonna fold when it comes to the real fight. The ultimate goal for Hendo: to make the finals a nightmare for Dana with no UK guys.
Over at Team UK’s training, again, Pierce’s name is brought up. This time, he told Winner what Cameron likes to do, so he’s preparing based on that. But no, Pierce never said anything, right? Later at the house, it’s brought up that Winner likes to suck his thumb, and the guys rib him a bit for it (though he denies it at first). They’re making fun of Winner for this, but not Faulkner for his mouthpiece issues??? Very interesting. Cameron jokes that he can’t lose to someone who sucks his thumb.
Cameron is feeling the pressure once again, but trusts that god wouldn’t give him something he couldn’t handle. He prays every night for “God’s speed and Devil’s rage.” Winner, on the other hand, just wants to pay the bills. He says he doesn’t like to run his mouth, but he’s going to try his best, otherwise what’s the point?
ROUND 1: Some dancing, and Dollar takes the first shots. He keeps working the jabs, but Winner returns them. Both are swinging hard, fast and wild. Winner takes a sharp punch to the jaw. They clinch and Dollar gets some knees in. A good knee from Winner and Dollar shoots. Winner lands some good shots that rattle Dollar and keep him down a bit. Winner tries to back up, but Dollar grabs his legs and pulls him down. They scramble back up and clinch. Dollar is working for some kind of takedown, but Winner is landing several shots to the head and ribs. They separate a bit and exchange. Dollar shoots and takes Winner down, but Winner lands on top and mounts Dollar. He rolls over and sets Dollar up in a triangle, but can’t seem to get it tightly at first. Dollar works hard to pull himself out, but Winner manages to really sink his legs in and Dollar taps.
Winner: Andre Winner via Submission (triangle)
Post-fight, Winner is happy to win, and to not have embarrassed himself on the show (as compared to previous seasons, this is something to be happy about!). The Brits are happy to have their first guy in the finals.
Rightfully so, Cameron is disappointed to have come so far, and not made it. Ever the proud coach, Hendo sees a lot of potential in Cameron and sees a future for him in the UFC.
Now in the finals we have one American at 170, and one Brit at 155. What’s next?
The following day at Team UK training, Pearson discusses his fight with a well-rounded Dent, who he is excited to fight. During some grappling training with Bisping, Pearson’s shoulder gets dislocated, which he says happens from time to time. Pearson is clearly in pain, and everyone looks concerned. Bisping simply pops it back in, and he’s back to training. Wow. That’s nuts.
Later, at Team US training, Dana reveals that he was NOT impressed by Dent’s fights so far. In his eyes, Dent was playing it safe, just trying to squeak out a win. Dent takes this personally, and is going to turn it up for the next fight to show everyone. Hendo somewhat agrees, and says that he hasn’t shown what he’s capable of yet. Dent wants to finish this fight big and promises to let it all hang out. He better!
At the house, the tension is clear. Both are just kind of hanging around waiting for the fight. Pearson promises to make the fight messy and give it everything he’s got. He intends to keep the pace fast and is looking to knock Dent out. He wants the fame and glory and money — and Dent is keeping it from him. In an almost echo, Dent says he is going to destroy Pearson, who is in his way of a big contract, and thinks he could either TKO or submit him. He is at least willing to acknowledge that Pearson is dangerous, but he’s not the toughest he’s ever fought. We shall see…
ROUND 1: Dent starts off with a missed leg kick, followed by a blocked head kick. Pearson opens up with a jab and they clinch. A few weak knees from Dent. Pearson attempts head kicks but falls. Dent is against the fence and Pearson works some body shots and head shots. They separate and Pearson lands a good head shot, followed by a body kick. Then he lands a good uppercut-jab combo. Dent manages a knee. Backing up a bit, Dent lands a jab to Pearson’s face. Pearson counters with a GREAT head kick and Dent is back up against the cage. In the clinch, they exchange some knees and body shots. Good uppercut from Dent and they’re apart. A blocked head kick from Pearson. Dent goes in for some knees, but they’re blocked. A good knee-uppercut combo from Pearson and they’re exchanging repeated jabs. Clinching again, Dent swings wildly but lands nothing. Back in the center, a spinning kick from Dent misses. Solid shots from Pearson keep Dent against the cage. In the clinch, Dent lands a few shots, but none do any damage. On their feet, they exchange several jabs as the round ends.
ROUND 2: Dent is the first to swing…and miss. Dent lands a good leg kick, which Pearson counters. Good body kick from Dent is followed by a great head kick from Pearson. A good exchange in the center nets Dent a nice shot to the Pearson’s head. Now Dent lands a good leg kick. Pearson lands a series of body shots, pushing Dent back to the cage. In the clinch, Dent works some knees. He weakly attempts to get Pearson down, but nothing happens. They move back to the middle and Dent lands a nice jab. Good hook from Pearson. More exchanges in the center and this time Dent puts Pearson against the cage. Pearson reverses and takes Dent down. In his guard, Pearson works some shots to his head. Dent tries to get out and Pearson mounts him, but he loses it. Back on their feet, Dent does a lot of swinging. The two exchange a lot and keep the pace fast. Dent shoots and latches on to Pearson’s leg but can’t get him down. Dent is on his back and Pearson pounces. In Dent’s guard, he rains down punch after punch. The round ends as Dent looks for a possible arm.
ROUND 3: Dent starts offensively with some jabs, but Pearson backs up. Dent continues and lands a good body kick. Pearson finally lands a jab and solid straight arm to Dent’s face. With Dent backing up, Pearson follows up with more jabs and then takes Dent down. Dent goes for a guillotine, but Pearson gets out and is in Dent’s guard. Pearson alternates punches and elbows, and then he throws in some hammer-fists. Pearson backs off a bit and Dent changes position giving up his back in side-control. Pearson pounds on Dent’s head and body, and then he starts looking for an arm. Pearson continues the head shots while Dent turtles up, covering his head. Dent rolls over and Pearson is back in his guard. Pearson continues the punishment with elbows and the occasional straight arm. Pearson backs up a bit and Dent rolls again giving up his back. Now Pearson can throw in knees. Crouching and covering his head, Dent just takes more abuse. Though the two keep flipping between full guard and Pearson controlling Dent’s back, the round ends with Dent just being punished.
Winner: Pearson via Unanimous Decision
Dana was much more impressed by Dent this time around, and now respects him. Can’t say I disagree. Even Pearson gives him props for his toughness. But somehow I end the show confused, as Dent claims the house got to him??? Is that his excuse for the loss?
All in all, tonight’s fights were interesting, but weren’t much of a surprise. As much as I disliked Dollar in the beginning, he sorta started to grow on me and I really had hopes that he’d win tonight. It seemed like he had a chance against Winner and I was seriously disappointed to see him lose. As for Dent, I really didn’t expect him to win, but the fast pace and real tenacity of both he and Pearson was truly impressive. Both guys can really take a punch, and neither of them gassed. Were they the most technical fight? No, but they were really entertaining.
Now, at least one of the final fights has been decided. The lightweight finals will showcase Brits Winner vs. Pearson. I couldn’t even fathom a guess as to who’s going to take it, but if it comes down to going the distance, my money’s on Pearson.
Next week: One fight remains to see who will take on Damarques in the final. Lester must once again take on the man who destroyed his smile. Will history repeat itself or will Lester get his vengeance? War Lester!