Episode 12: REMATCH
I’m still here, and on the eve of my baby’s due date, I get to enjoy the last regular episode of TUF!
Last week, the four remaining lightweights faced off. In the first fight, Andre Winner submitted Cameron Dollar with a triangle in round 1, giving the UK its first finalist. In the second fight, Ross Pearson went toe-to-toe with James Dent in a three-round brawl, winning with a unanimous decision. Tonight decides the remaining finalist for the welterweights — who will face Damarques in the Finale? Will it be Frank Lester or James Wilks?
At the house, the American coaches come over to grill up some BBQ and to just hang out with the team. They begin discussing the upcoming rematch between Lester and Wilks. Lester feels that if Henderson believes in him, he can believe in himself. He seems pretty confident in himself considering his path in the house thus far. Damarques even gives him a bit of a pep talk, saying that Lester can take more damage (though Damarques is a bit biased, as he refers to Wilks as a pompous prick).
On the UK side of the house, they are discussing much of the same. They noticed that in his fight against Faulkner, Lester was much more relaxed. They admit that Lester is probably stronger and tougher, but that Wilks is more technically skilled. It seems like both guys have a sound respect for each other.
The next day at Team UK training, Wilks feels he is probably the favorite because he’s already beaten Lester. However, Bisping doesn’t want to be overly confident because the first fight was so close. He feels like Wilks can win if he takes it to the ground because Lester is strong and has a good chin. The ground seems to be Lester’s weakness.
Once Team USA arrives at the gym, Lester says he feels comfortable in the cage because this will be his third fight in as many weeks. He sweetly calls the cage home. In discussing strategy and attitude, he tells Hendo that he’s “more clear headed” (hey, these guys aren’t really known for their ability to speak English, lol). Hendo calls for more straight punches: not too hard and not looping, but straight and quick.
Back at the house, Wilks and Lester seem to be getting along while chit-chatting about Lester’s daughter. They are actually pretty chill, and Lester adds that Wilks has kind of grown on him. They get in the sauna and get chummy. Lester openly tells Wilks that he didn’t like him in the beginning, and doesn’t really know why, but now he actually likes him. Could this be a ploy on Lester’s part to kind of get into Wilks’ head? Regardless, Dana likes this rematch because both guys think they can win. It should definitely prove to be pretty interesting.
Later that night, Amasinger is cooking up curry chicken as the coaches arrive. Bisping talks about how much he has enjoyed the coaching process — the coaching, meeting the guys, the camaraderie they’ve forged and the respect he has for them. Then Wilks decides to show off some parlor tricks, playing a joke on Bisping involving a penny — though I expected something seriously lame, it was actually pretty amusing. It’s nice to see Bisping able to laugh at himself for a change. After the coaches leave, Andre begins spitting his food out, deciding to also throw a wad of curry at Amasinger’s neck where it then explodes. The usually calm Amasinger quickly jumps to his feet, throwing chairs out of his way to find Winner. Uh oh! Could this be the dumba$$ antics we’ve been waiting for?
Amasinger chases Winner down near the pool and violently chucks him in. As Winner tries to get out, Faulkner then sneaks up and launches a bag of flour at him, turning him a nice pasty white. The joking ends when Amasinger then pushes Winner back in the pool. All got a good, spirited laugh. This is the most light-hearted the house has been all season.
Well, not all are light-hearted. Damarques and Lester are hanging out in their room, but Lester is crying. He claims not to be afraid, but he’s afraid of letting everyone down. I actually feel for the guy.
The Brits talk about Wilks’ chances. They give Lester a lot of credit, and it is clear that Wilks is taking it seriously. Bisping wants Wilks to relax and follow the gameplan. Wilks wants to get this fight out of the way so he can fight in the Finale.
Lester feels like he has something to lose, as in a 6-figure contract. Lester seems much less composed, but this is his dream. The only thing standing in his way is Wilks (who Hendo reminds Lester was the one who knocked out his teeth).
ROUND 1: Wilks is the first to strike with a straight jab that misses. He follows it with a leg kick. Lester counters with a straight jab, then a wide right. Lester then gets inadvertently kicked in the nuts. They resume and Lester starts with a good body kick. A nice left from Wilks is followed by a good combo. Lester lands a solid leg kick. Wilks with a good offensive combo. Another good leg kick from Lester. Wilks is far more aggressive, while Lester is more cautious about his shots. They seem to jab at the same time, cancelling each other out. They have some weak exchanges, but Lester keeps chopping at Wilks with leg kicks. A solid right from Lester hurts Wilks. Wilks shoots and pins Lester against the fence, but can’t get him down. They clinch, but neither does much. They separate, and Lester lands some excellent shots. Wilks tries to shoot again, but Lester just keeps punching at him. They clinch and finally Wilks lands some knees. Wilks tries to sweep, but Lester keeps it on their feet. Still clinching, they exchange some head shots. They separate and both land good face shots. The round ends on their feet.
ROUND 2: Lester starts the round with a leg kick that lands straight to Wilks’ groin (though it looked lower to me). They restart and exchange a few jabs. Lester swings and misses with a left hook, but then Wilks swings and misses with a head kick. A nice straight left to Wilks’ face, but then Lester eats the same. Good straight kick from Wilks. Some so-so exchanges and finally Wilks lands another straight kick. A great right from Wilks lands, but Lester takes it. Then Lester lands a solid shot that rocks Wilks and Wilks shoots. They clinch, and Wilks keeps trying to sweep, but with no success. They break after a weak clinch and Wilks gets in a nice leg kick. Lester returns with a painful straight jab. A solid right hook from Lester gets checked. Wilks fakes with a low left kick and follows with a right head kick that rocks Lester. Wilks charges for the takedown and he controls Lester at the cage. They clinch and Wilks lands knee after knee. They get back to the center and continue to exchange as the round ends.
Seems to me that the fight is 1 round each.
ROUND 3: Both come out swinging, but Wilks is the first to connect with a nice leg kick. They exchange a lot, with Wilks doing more damage. He lands a straight kick, followed by a right that really rocks Lester. He charges and pins Lester against the cage. Neither does anything, but they break up and Lester lands a couple good jabs. Wilks lands a good knee when Lester gets close and gets him back up against the cage where he lands a few more knees. As Wilks is trying to get Lester down, Lester is looking tired. Wilks lands a nice knee that starts to drop Lester. As Lester starts to come back up, Wilks takes advantage with a couple more knees that keep him down. He crouches and Wilks continues pounding on him as the ref stops it.
Winner: James Wilks via TKO
Frank clearly did his best, but he was picked apart. He was tired going into the fight. Despite knowing that Wilks was definitely the better fighter, all are unbelievably impressed with Lester’s heart, especially Dana. I definitely foresee a future for Lester in the UFC.
Lester is disappointed in himself and feels like he let everyone down— he is just completely drained. But he looks at the bright side: that he’s leaving a better man than when he came in.
Bisping, back to being an a$$, is rubbing it in about being up 3-1 in the Finale. Hendo is just proud of his team overall. Heck, if Damarques wins, they end tied!
In parting words, Hendo says that this whole experience has made him want to beat Bisping even more because he’s “for lack of a better word, a douchebag.” Bisping disagrees and actually thinks he’s going to win on July 11th. In the words of Nelson….”HA HA!”
And so, there ends the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter. On Saturday, June 20th, live on Spike, the Ultimate Finale will take place. Brit Ross Pearson will square off against fellow Brit and friend Andre Winner in the lightweight battle, while UK’s James Wilks will take on the lone American Damarques Johnson for the welterweight contract. We’ll see soon who will be left standing at the end of the night!
Hopefully, the hospital I’m in will have Spike!