Episode 8: “Negative Energy”
Last week, Pierce’s injured ankle caused his teammates to question his heart, while his good friend Dave Faulkner was injure-ridden. Meanwhile, Brit Ross Pearson submitted Richie Whitson to put the UK up 4-2.
As tonight’s episode begins, Mr. Grumpy himself, Pierce is complaining about his training and his injuries. Apparently, he has a staph infection in his foot, causing it to swell badly and creating an open wound on his calf.
Speaking of injured fighters, Faulkner is training with Bisping and complains about his “gum shield” and the fact that he can’t keep it in his mouth due to his gag reflex. Bisping is worried that it could make him lose a fight or lose a point. It’s a concern because instead of thinking about how to win, he’s thinking about what’s in his mouth. Not something you really want to be preoccupied with during a fight.
This week it’s Team USA’s turn for unorthodox training techniques. Henderson decides that the guys need a break from the house and the gym. They’re playing Ultimate Frisbee in a field, which seems to be good for morale. Unfortunately, the fresh doesn’t seem to help everyone. Pierce feels weak from the meds he’s on, and there is worry that the docs won’t clear him. The infection is not contagious, but his leg hurts and is sore to the touch. Every time one of the coaches asks him if that’s going to keep him from fighting, Pierce has some excuse for it. Hendo is questioning his attitude and doesn’t like his negativity. No one fights at 100%. Though at the end, Pierce says he’s not taking himself out of any fights. I just don’t buy it. And apparently I’m not alone in this. Back at the house, the guys are all hanging out and whining about Pierce. They say he’s grumpy, eats everyone’s food (when it suits him) but doesn’t seem to like anyone but the Brits.
The next day, the guys gather for the fight announcement, where Hendo chooses Jason Dent to fight Jeff Lawson. Truth be told, he really had no choice because of Pierce’s bum leg.
And oh joy, we get to learn about the chosen ones. Dent is airing his grievances about living with 16 other guys and the lack of peace and privacy. Defranco likes Dent, but thinks he’s out of his mind. He’s fidgety and nervous and Defranco’s afraid that Dent is gonna kill him. He’s got that Taxi Driver air about him. That being said, it’s no surprise that Dent is happy to get in the cage to get out his aggression. Hendo commends his ground game, though he adds that he’s resistant to change, and doesn’t seem to want to get better at his weaknesses. He likes to do things his way and wants to stick to what he’s good at — which irritates Hendo as a coach. Hendo tries to talk to him, and explain that they’re just trying to HELP him, not to just yell at him. Hendo labels him as “tough to coach.” It seems like Dent is just tough to be around.
Back at the house, we are treated to something we haven’t really seen this season — antics! Jokester Lawson dons a rubber glove on his head and the comedy routine ensues. Amasinger yanks down the pants of Lawson…which everyone seems to love. And Lawson just seems to enjoy entertaining everyone and making them laugh, along with Faulkner. Pearson attributes their sanity to this playfulness and camaraderie. They even put on a “pro-wrestling show.” The show ends up down by the pool, and it just feels like someone is going to get hurt. Luckily, no one does (except for a container of flour). You can definitely see the difference in the attitudes of the Brits and Americans. I hate to say it, but at this point, I’d much rather hang around the Brits.
The next day the Brits are discussing Lawson’s record and his 21 wins by arm bar. Lawson is hoping to come at Dent quickly, wait for him to make a mistake and get him to submit. He recognizes that Dent is losing it a little in the house, and looks at that as an advantage to him. He knows he’ll be underestimated (even refers to himself as a ginger), but insists he will not lose.
Dent is admittedly nervous, and Lester doesn’t see anywhere where Lawson is better. Dent is anxious to go and feels good. As the guys are getting ready to fight, Dana peeks his head into the US locker room and asks to talk to Dan about Pierce’s infection. The doc is confident that Pierce can fight but Dana wants to talk to both of them to get Pierce’s opinion on the matter. Pierce says he’s mentally in it, but once again, he makes excuse after excuse. EVEN DANA SEES IT! Dana decides to give him until Tuesday to get his situation straightened out. The way I see it, if Pierce really wanted to fight, he would’ve sold it to Dana.
Jeff Lawson vs. Jason Dent
Round 1: Neither seems to want to get the fight going. Lawson takes a huge risk with a head kick, but misses. Tries to clinch, but Dent wrestles free. A straight kick from Lawson misses. A minute in and Lawson finally lands a leg kick. He tries some overhands, but Dent backs up. Lawson goes in for a takedown but Dent sweeps him and has his back. Lawson tries to maneuver for a leg lock and gets Dent on his back in full guard. He straight punches Dent but nothing really gets through. Dent lands some shots to Lawson’s head, and is warned for elbows to the back of the head. Lawson picks up Dent and slams him, but it does nothing. Dent gets warned again. Lawson drops a couple good elbows. They’re both fighting for control, but no one is doing any damage. Lawson backs off, and rains some good punches down on Dent. Lawson manages to mount Dent and won’t let him roll over. Lawson backs off again and ends up back in full guard. Dent manages to get good shots in from his back. The round ends with Dent pulling off a reversal and getting on top of Lawson.
Round 2: Great leg kick from Dent and Lawson goes for the takedown. They clinch and Lawson has Dent’s back. They separate and Dent tries to keep it standing. Lawson attempts a takedown but Dent defends it and they’re both down. Lawson turtles up and Dent lands a lot of clean shots to Lawson’s head. An exhausted Lawson doesn’t want to get up so the ref stands them up. Lawson sweeps Dent and gets him down and Lawson goes for a heel hook. It looks like he might get it, but Dent slips loose. Back up on their feet, Lawson feigns exhaustion and comes up with a flying knee that lands. Dent goes for a kick and gets Lawson is on all fours. Dent lands some good shots to his head. He latches onto Lawson’s neck, rolls over for the anaconda and Lawson taps.
Winner: Jason Dent via Submission (anaconda choke)
Lawson blames the loss on gassing, but Dana criticizes Dent in that he didn’t really take advantage of it. Thankfully, Team USA bounces back and brings it to 4-3.
Lawson doesn’t give a shit about losing, but is disappointed that now he can’t take his family on vacation. Though he claims not to be making excuses, he feels the need to blame his lack of training due to his chest infection at the beginning of the show.
Then the real drama begins. Pulling them aside, Dana talks to Pierce and Hendo after the fight, and tells him he’s not going to let him fight. The way he saw it, he wanted nothing to do with fighting (cue Pierce’s crocodile tears). His assessment is that Pierce showed up and realized that he didn’t want to be a fighter. Pierce claims to be frustrated and feels like he’s been benched, but he took himself out of it. Hendo says he’s better off because he would’ve lost his fight. I couldn’t agree more.
Next week: Hendo breaks the news to the Team and looks to someone else to step up and take the fight (which several are willing to do — Pierce could learn a thing or two)! Bisping and Demarques nearly come to blows. A desperate Faulkner will try anything to fix his gag reflex. A shocking end to a fight determines the last spot for the semis. Looks like each episode just gets better!