Andre Winner def. Gary Kelly
How It Ended: True to his name, Winner defeated Wolfslair member Gary Kelly with a right knee in the first round.
First Impressions: Andre Winner is a cut, tall fighter in the lightweight division. He’s strong in the clinch, which he displayed in his fight against Kelly. Winner has the size and strength to go far into the series. His height will certainly cause problems for any opponent he faces.
Strengths: Dirty boxing, knees
Seth Lawson def. James Bryan
How It Ended: Lawson slips from side-control into an armbar.
First Impressions: Lawson said it was an easy fight, and he sure made it look easy. After a quick takedown, he showed good jiu-jitsu skills, and moved well from on top. He appears to be older than many of the other fighters, so we will soon see how his well-conditioned he is
Strengths: Jiu-jitsu, decent ground-pound
James Wilks def. Che Mills
How It Ended: Mills threw some wild punches, leading to Wilks falling down, but he couldn’t capitalize. Wilks caught a leg while Mills was trying to rain down punches, and wound up getting a leg lock
First Impressions: Not much to say here, Wilks was getting clobbered until he pulled off the leg lock. Unless that was his strategy, Wilks looks to be a quick exit. If he fights a smarter opponent that can also dominate him standing up, Wilks will be in a world of hurt.
Strengths: Calm under pressure, submissions
Martin Stapleton def. Dan James
How It Ended: Stapleton took James down, and after James tried to stand back up, Stapleton took his back. After sinking in the hooks and spreading him out, Stapleton locked in the rear-naked choke in the first round.
First Impressions: Stapleton looked good on the ground, smothering his opponent. He moved well to get the choke, and shows the toughness to be a great fighter.
Strengths: Strong on top, quick
Ross Pearson def. A.J. Wenn
How It Ended: Pearson wins by TKO after knocking Wenn down and pouring down punches to his face.
First Impressions: Wenn looked to be the most dominant UK fighter. He had awesome takedown skills, strong sprawls/takedown defense, and was aggressive throughout the fight. Wenn will be a formidable foe, but his smaller size, his toughest challenge will probably be a taller wrestler.
Strengths: Good striking, aggressive, wrestling
Nick Osipczak def. Tommy Maguire
How It Ended: Osipczak wins with a beautiful knee to the head.
First Impressions: Exactly how strong a fighter Osipczak will be is difficult to judge, seeing how poor an opponent Maguire was. He was too small to pose Osipczak any challenge, and he wasn’t a good striker. Osipczak’s punches connected but didn’t do very much damage, but wore Maguire down to set up the knee. If he faces a real opponent, it is doubtful Osipczak will go very far.
Strengths: Knees, height
Dean Amasinger def. Alex Reid
How It Ended: Dean Amasinger wins by decision after a “Sudden Death” third round.
First Impressions: Dean Amasinger is a very inexperienced fighter. His punches were thrown without much power, and his submission defense is severely lacking. He is a pure wrestler, and a very good one at that, but only muscles his way out of submission attempts. He has a lot of work to do with his boxing and jiu-jitsu to become a well-rounded fighter. If he can learn these two skills in the few weeks that The Ultimate Fighter is on, he’ll be an unstoppable force, similar to Rashad Evans.
David Faulkner def. James Bateman
How It Ended: With Bisping rooting on his fellow Wolfslair member, Faulkner wins with one of his famous leg-locks.
First Impressions: For the most part, Bateman showed good takedown defense, making Faulkner work hard to set up the leg-lock. Faulkner certainly does have sick a leg-lock, but if he cannot take his opponent down, he’s susceptible to getting knocked out. Even according to Bisping, Faulkner is weak mentally, and will lose if he loses confidence in himself. Faulkner has to get his issues sorted out in his head if he wants to go anywhere on this show: there’s fighters who can push through the pain and may want this even more than he does.
Final Thoughts: The UK team looks very strong and very hungry for this victory over their US counterparts. They love to clinch and dirty boxing, something the American fighters will have to learn to deal with.
The UK team also has some strong, aggressive wrestlers who look to take almost anyone down. For the US team to succeed, they’ll need to be able to stop the takedown and out-strike their opponents.
They’ll be weak in the welterweight division, however, with guys like James Wilks and Dean Amasinger being gifted with inexperienced opponents in their debuts. Ospiczak is the dark horse amongst the team, with little being seen of his true abilities. He’s a scrappy fighter who could take guys out with those powerful knees.
Look for Ross Pearson to be the best lightweight fighter amongst the UK team. Although Andre Winner certainly has the size and strength to be the best, Pearson’s sheer aggression and takedown ability may be enough to put him over the top.
Special recap contribution by Kevin Leong