The show begins with a recap of last week’s episode, with clips of the UK guys who won their fights. In tonight’s episode, we will get a glimpse of the 16 Americans vying to get their shot to fight on Team USA.
Now it’s the Americans’ turn. Back in Vegas, Dana talks about how he was impressed with the UK fighters, and is hoping that the US fighters are as good. Although we already know this, Dana confirms that Dan Henderson won the fight against Rich Franklin, and he therefore has earned the Team USA coaching spot. Hendo seems to be happy to be coaching, as he once represented the USA in the Olympics. Now, he just wants to beat the UK.
The guys start filing in, looking nervous as anything. Dana welcomes them and introduces Henderson as their coach. He begins his little spiel by warning them that Bisping is fired up as are the Brit fighters. As Dana is trying to get them fired up, one of the guys f***ing faints…again? Seriously? Everyone seems concerned at first, but Dana says this is different than when Phillippe fainted last season because he thinks this guy Pierce is just having trouble cutting weight (he went from 180 to 169). Dana seems pretty annoyed by the interruption, but it only gets worse.
The guys start getting checked out by the doctors, and something nasty is found on John Shackelford’s forehead. It’s determined to be a Herpes lesion, which is contagious, meaning he can’t be in the house with the other guys and he has to go home. Strike two against the Americans. Another guy, Christian Fulghum, shows up not on weight. He claims he thought he was close. At the moment, he’s 173lbs. It’s 1:20 and he is given until 2:00 to drop two pounds or else he’s going home. The coaches try to give him a hand and get him on the treadmill at 3mph, but he starts to heave, and then proceeds to collapse. These guys are NOT off to a very good start! Dana is fuming and rightly so. It’s Season 9 of this show. The guys know what to expect and what is expected of them. Them not showing up on weight is inexcusable!
With these new developments, Dana addresses them again and is clearly annoyed. He essentially tells Christian that he has to quit because he couldn’t make weight. Dana congratulates the rest of the guys for making it this far, but he warns the two guys left without opponents that they will not just be walking into the house — they will be told their opponents the next day. With very good reason, Dana is worried that with what’s going on with the US guys, the UK guys are going to walk all over them.
At this point in this show, Dana’s whole attitude has got me thinking. Here’s my thought. Dana has allowed Bisping to kind of coast through UFC scrubs to get where he is. Clearly this is to build up the popularity of the UFC in the UK. Which is fine, I completely understand his marketing strategy. The UK is a gold mine. But could this season of TUF be a set-up as well? Maybe pick some mediocre American fighters, mix them with some okay looking UK guys and allow the Brits to more or less walk through them to continue the build up? I seriously hope not, but right now, so far, the American picks are looking awfully suspect.
Fight 1: Welterweight
Mark Miller v. Kevin Knabjian
These two happen to be training partners, so neither are too thrilled about fighting each other.
Round 1: A little dancing, but these guys seem to feel comfortable fighting each other. They exchange a few jabs, but Miller seems far more offensive. A good kick from Knabjian. A lot of jabs and overhands from Miller. Knabjian goes for the takedown but can’t get it. Miller seems to be just waiting for an opening in Knabjian’s guard. A good jab from Knabjian followed by a good kick. Miller lands a solid jab to Knabjian’s face and he’s looking a little bloody. Knabjian attempts a spinning backfist, but Miller is able to land some strong jabs. The round ends as Miller comes at Knabjian with a Superman punch.
Round 2: More of the same from the first round. There are solid jabs from Miller, but Knabjian lands a couple and drops Miller. Knabjian pounces and tries to finish him but he can’t. He ends up on top and both are trying to pull off a submission. Neither is successful so they get back to their feet. Miller is back to controlling the stand up. Miller is landing a lot of jabs, one that really rattles Knabjian and he doesn’t stop. Miller continues to back Knabjian up and Knabjian can’t fight back. He eventually drops and the ref stops it. Knabjian is pissed.
Winner: Miller via TKO
This is a shame, because both of these guys would easily beat any of the Brits. It’s a shame that
Knabjian has to go.
Fight 2: Lightweight
Richie Whitson vs. Paul Bird
Dana and Henderson joke that Richie looks a LOT like Shawn White (I say there’s even a Carrot Top mix in there!)
Round 1: There’s a good exchange to start off the fight. Bird goes for and gets the takedown. Whitson rolls and gives Bird his back which he quickly loses. They get back up and Bird practically leaps on Whitson’s back and tries to slip the hooks in for a choke. Whitson shakes him off and they continue the stand up. Both are fast and dance a lot with some sporadic jabs and kicks. Whitson is more offensive and Bird shoots but fails. Whitson backs Bird up against the cage and lands some good jabs. They clinch and drop to the ground with Whitson in half guard. He lands some solid elbows and hammer fists from full guard. He alternates fists and elbows. Bird rolls and Whitson tries to mount his back while Bird is in the turtle position. Bird just crouches and allows Whitson to get his legs all the way around. Whitson slips his arms under and gets Bird to tap with the rear naked choke.
Winner: Whitson via Submission (rear naked choke)
Fight 3: Lightweight
Waylon Lowe vs. Santino Defranco
It turns out that Defranco actually tried out for Season 2, but it was discovered that he had a brain aneurysm. He had the surgery to fix it and has since recovered. VERY impressive.
Round 1: A lot of circling and Lowe goes for the takedown. He’s in Defranco’s guard but is really not doing much with it. He finally lands a couple hammerfists. Defranco is keeping Lowe’s head down trying to pull him in for the triangle. Good defense from his back. Lowe starts alternating fists and elbows, but Defranco isn’t fighting back. His ribs are taking some serious abuse. Some of Lowe’s fists are getting through the hands that are covering Defranco’s face and that’s how the round ends. Dana doesn’t think Defranco is getting up. I wonder why the fight wasn’t stopped sooner.
Round 2: Lowe is trying to control the stand up, but gets caught with a flying knee. Defranco takes him down quickly and has side control. Lowe rolls and Defranco mounts his back. Defranco slips the hooks in under Lowe’s chin for the rear naked choke and Lowe taps. Guess it was a good thing the fight wasn’t stopped in the first round…
Winner: Defranco via Submission (rear naked choke)
Fight 4: Welterweight
Steve Berger vs. Jason Pierce
Dana walks us through the fast-forwarded version of this fight, but as it turns out, Dana has known Berger for some time and likes him. In his overview of the fight, Dana goes on give the very few highlights of the fight. Early in round 1, Pierce drops Berger with a right hand. He tries for submission, but can’t finish it. Then in round 2, the fight goes to the ground, but no one is able to finish it. Again, very uneventful. They decide to take it to a third round which is apparently no different than the first two.
Winner: Pierce via Unanimous Decision
Maybe fainting is a good luck thing?
Fight 5: Lightweight
Dollar vs. Hayden
Another fight reduced to the highlight reel. In round 1, the gist of the round is that Hayden takes Dollar down, gets his back and hammers him. Round 2 proves to be the same as round 1. Hayden pounds Dollar and quickly gets the hooks in for rear naked choke. Quickly thereafter, Dollar taps and is unconscious.
Winner: Hayden via Submission (rear naked choke)
Fight 6: Welterweight
Demarques Johnson vs. Ray Elbe
Round 1: Both look loose and not very anxious. Right away Johnson lands a good jab. Elbe is trying to work his kicks, but Johnson is elusive. He tries a spinning back-fist, but Johnson blocks it. Some good jab exchanges. Good jabs from Johnson. Johnson delivers a good jab, uppercut combo. Elbe goes in on Johnson and falls back, Johnson falls on top of him and gets the full mount. Alternates between fists and elbows and just tries to smother Elbe. Elbe’s ground defense is clearly lacking. He tries to block most of Johnson’s shots, but is not very successful. He’s bleeding. He rolls, with Johnson mounted on his back. Johnson rolls him back over and continues the barrage of punches to his face. He hammerfists Elbe’s head until the ref stops it. Elbe’s face is busted open pretty badly.
Winner: Johnson via TKO
Henderson now has 6 members for Team USA. He is excited, but concerned. He thinks he has a competitive team and expects to do well against the UK. Dana gives the winners their jerseys and warns them that this will be both the best and the worst experience of their lives.
It’s not over though. Kyle and Jason are told they still have to fight their way in to the house, and their opponents are brought in…one of which is Junie Browning’s little brother!!! According to Dana, you can’t blame Rob for the sins of Junie….but can’t we?
The end of the episode brings us to a preview of the whole season — the antics and the fighting are of course there, as well as the tensions and the bragging. It definitely looks like an action packed season!