Episode 9 of TUF9 completed the preliminary rounds. We finally had Dave Faulkner‘s match, but not with Jason Pierce (Dana White told Pierce that he wasn’t fighting in the previous episode). His opponent was Frank Lester who had been beaten in an earlier matchup. Lester’s talk with White about how much he wanted to fight was the deciding factor in his being chosen. White said that Lester was what a real fighter is – he doesn’t care about stitches, black eyes, a nose that hurts or missing teeth.
Lester had been beaten badly before – bruises on his face and his nose was most likely cracked. His teeth had been forcibly removed as well. When he tried to place his mouthguard in before practice, he found that his teeth were still in it.
Henderson‘s game plan for Lester was to go after Faulkner ”nice and easy” and then to do a takedown.
Bisping felt that Faulkner could “blow Lester out of the octagon”. Faulkner’s main problem was still the gag reflex when his mouthguard was in, so he went to a hypnotherapist to get over it. He was to feel safe and protected when the mouthguard was in place. Who knows if it worked; they had only one session.
Part of the episode revolved around confrontations between Henderson and Bisping and then Bisping and Damarques Johnson.
Henderson wanted to switch training times with the UK group so that he no longer had to get up early, something the US team had done for four weeks. Bisping had a fit and tried to use the next fight to decide. Henderson refused. The next morning Bisping and Co. were all training very early, having been told they had to change times.
The next altercation involved Bisping’s spraying water from his bottle in Johnson’s face as he walked by. Bisping thought, in error, that Johnson had said a “racist” remark about him during the coaches’ tennis challenge. In fact, it had been Cameron Dollar‘s comment and it wasn’t much of a remark to begin with (“whiter than a band-aid” to describe Bisping’s legs). Johnson was livid and had to walk it off. Bisping apologized but Johnson wasn’t having any of it.
Round 1 between Faulkner and Lester started with Lester’s keeping his distance. I’m sure he didn’t want to get hit in the face with all his injuries. He tried a head kick and Faulkner tried a take down and some flying fists. While in the clinch in the center of the octagon, both guys applied knees. Bisping was yelling for Faulkner to have his “hands tight” and left hand higher while Henderson shouted “jabs” to Lester a few dozen times. The fighters were often in the clinch at the fence, stalemated, doing very little. Henderson was constantly yelling “circle” to have Lester get away from the fence.
Faulkner managed one take down, but Lester used the fence to help him get up. He tried big looping strikes which did not connect.
Round 1 to Faulkner.
At the beginning of round 2, Faulkner spit out his mouthguard and walked backward with hands down. He was gassed. Lester did a head kick and went into the clinch. Faulkner applied some body shots and elbows while in the clinch.
Lester used strong combos while in the center, very heavy strikes, and then dragged Faulkner to the fence by the back of the neck. Faulkner was flat-footed and looked exhausted.
Although Lester had far more energy in this round that Faulkner, once again we had Henderson telling him to “circle” to get away from the fence while in the clinch. Both guys used knees here.
Round 2 went to Lester, but not so much that Lester won as that Faulkner lost. He actually walked away at one point, arms at his side and then bent forward from the waist to take a breath at about the four minute mark.
White announced that there would be the Sudden Victory round, but Faulkner refused to continue. Faulkner said that he enjoyed the match, no longer had anything to prove and no longer felt stressed. It actually sounded as though he was quitting MMA, as he talked about professional wrestling or horror movies.
Bisping, on the other hand, had his stress levels through the roof afterward, stomping out, kicking a door.
The semi-finals are next with four guys from each team competing.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 9 TUF9 is on Spike on Wednesdays at 10:00 EST.
May 27, 2009