The Ultimate Fighter 9 Episode 9
As they hear the news that Jason Pierce won’t be fighting for Team USA, concerns are raised about who will come back to take his place. Mark Miller would be happy if he were given the opportunity to take Pierce’s place, and Frank Lester is just as eager.
Pierce, on the other hand, slightly embellishes his story about his encounter with Dana White. He tells the guys that Dana took one look at it and decided that he couldn’t fight, and that he told Dana that he really wanted to despite the infection. In reality, however, Pierce basically asked to be taken out of the running for The Ultimate Fighter title, and showed no desire to fight.
It is soon decided that Frank Lester will replace Pierce, impressing Dana with his hunger for battle despite missing his front teeth. Mark Miller was not cleared to fight because he still has a broken nose, and so it was an easy decision for Dana to make.
Henderson has some concerns with Lester’s face. He’s pretty beat up and sore all over, so the team has some huge questions about how he’ll be able to perform.
Both coaches are at odds over the current training time slots. Henderson is not much of a morning person, and Team USA agreed to take the later slot. Bisping takes offense to Henderson wanting to switch, and lets Henderson know it.
With both teams heated over the training time-slots, things quickly escalate between Bisping and Demarques Johnson after Bisping squirts him in the face with his water bottle. Apparently Bisping was still angry about a comment made by Cameron Dollar about how his legs were “whiter than a band-aid,” and thought that it was Demarques, and not Cameron, who made the comment.
As Demarques goes to cool off outside, the official match-up is set: David Faulkner will be fighting Frank Lester in the next fight.
In an attempt to settle the dispute between him and Henderson over training times, Bisping once again offers to let the result of the fight determine who gets the later slot. Once again, Henderson refuses to put it on the line.
In their new 9:00 training time, David Faulkner and Team UK continue to work despite the setback. Faulkner’s gag-reflex is still holding him back, and he desperately goes to a hypno-therapist in an attempt to fix the problem.
Frank Lester still has his doubts about the upcoming fight and talks it out with his buddy, Santino DeFranco. Lester talks about how he wants this fight to prove to himself that he can persevere, that he can be a good fighter, that he can straighten things out in his life. Both Santino and Dan try to reassure Frank that his concerns are understandable and that he needs to be set mentally if he hopes to win.
Frank Lester vs. David Faulkner
As the fight gets started, Frank is reluctant to be the aggressor in the fight. He doesn’t throw many punches, and the ones he does throw are half-hearted, with nothing behind them. Instead he continues to circle around David while Henderson repeatedly says “Jabs, jabs” in the background.
After connecting with a punch, Faulkner closes the distance and pushes Frank against the cage. The two throw several knees and wrestle for position. After a minute of little action, Faulkner backs off and the two begin to fight once again.
Having already been punched and survived, Lester begins the next exchange with new life. He throws some solid punches, though none connect solidly; regardless, it is good to see his renewed faith in his abilities. Though he is taken down, Lester quickly maneuvers back to his feet and the fight remains standing.
At the one-minute mark, Lester looks calm even though he’s taken some damage. Faulkner, on the other hand, looks a bit winded and has his arms down by his side. The first round ends with both fighters having connected with some solid punches, though Faulkner is likely to win with his takedown being the deciding factor.
A bit of a somber moment occurs when we see Charles “Mask” Lewis during the break talking with Dana White. Lewis, a co-founder of TapouT, recently passed away from a car accident, sending shockwaves throughout the entire MMA community.
The second round begins and both fighters are cautious, unwilling to engage. After a brief timeout (Faulkner’s mouthpiece falls out), the two fighters come out swinging.
Lester really lets his hands fly in this second round. He hurts Faulkner pretty badly with a good combination causing Faulkner to go for the clinch. After taking some punches, Faulkner looks dead tired.
Surprisingly, Frank Lester looks energetic even in round two. Lester, who lost his first fight because he got tired and lost his air, was definitely better conditioned of the two fighters. Faulkner was completely gassed, barely able to raise his hands to protect his face.
During the break, David Faulkner’s mental weakness is evident as he repeatedly tells Bisping that he can’t go another round. Faulkner ultimately throws in the towel and Lester is victorious. Even Dana White is impressed with Lester’s heart and he willed his way to victory.
Bisping is absolutely furious that his fighter refused to go out for the third round. He had faith in David’s ability to beat Lester in the third round if it came to it, and when David quit, it really let him down. Bisping pulls out the four guys who have already made it into the semi-finals and tells them that he expects them to go the distance, never quitting.
In the other room, Team USA celebrates the victory. Everyone is spurred on by his heart and desire to win, and one can only hope it brings the team together.
Winner: Frank Lester
I was surprised to see David Faulkner only take the fight to the ground once throughout the entire fight. Even before getting into the house, Faulkner was touted by Bisping to be a knee-bar specialist with a strong ground-game; however, we only got one glimpse of Faulkner taking Lester to the ground once.
Faulkner lost not only because he could not stand and trade with Lester for 2 rounds, but because he did not stick to his strengths. If he was able to take Lester down once, he should have been trying to do it again and again to win by submission. Instead, he wound up losing a fight to a pre-beat-up opponent.
At least he had a good time.