As we did last season, Cage Writer will have a recap of every episode of "The Ultimate Fighter." This time, the show takes on an international flair. The U.S. will face the U.K to avenge the War of 1812. They burned the White House! Let's get 'em! The first episode, according to my DVR, is entitled, "Bangers and Mashers." Excellent.
It starts out with a run-through of all of the winners of previous "Ultimate Fighter," pointing out that they are all Americans except Michael Bisping. I wonder where he is from? Oh right. The United Kingdom, which is conveniently the home of half the fighters on Season 9 of (dramatic pause) "The Ultimate Fighter!" We're about a minute into the show and I've already heard the words "Brits" and "Yanks." What's the over/under on how many times we'll hear that?
The preliminary, win-or-go-home fights are first taking place in England. Dana White arrives at Wolfslair, meets up with Michael Bisping and the first group of fighters. White tells them that they can be Bisping if they really want it, and of course, "Welcome to the Ultimate Fighter, Mother F***er."
Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson show up, too, since at that point, they hadn't fought. If you remember, the winner was
forced given the honor of being the U.S.A. TUF coach. Neither one looks particularly thrilled to be there.
The Win-or-Go-Home Fights, U.K. Edition
Kelly vs. Winner: Gary Kelly is one of our first fighters. He trains out of Wolfslair, and I am quite appreciative of the subtitles used when he speaks. He's fighting Andre Winner, a tall fighter with large ears. Winner appears to be shadowboxing against Kelly for the first minute, and Bisping is loudly coaching Kelly, his fellow Wolfie. Winner goes in for a clinch, followed by some strong knees. He knocks Kelly to the ground, and finishes him with a few strong rights. Kelly is done, Winner is in the house, and Bisping is sad. In one of the weirder exchanges I've seen after a fight, Kelly asks Winner what he finished him with. "A knee? On top of me head? I thought I was winning the fight ..."
Hendo asks, "So you guys are going to have subtitles all over this thing, huh?" Indeed, Dan. Indeed.
Lawson vs. Bryan: Jeff Lawson is our next lightweight fighter, and he's taking on James Bryan, who fights in a bath, wait, no, fights OUT OF Bath. I'm loving the international thing. Lawson wins with an armbar, and then immediately does a backflip. Bryan is quite sad.
Mills vs. Wilks: Che Mills is a welterweight fighter, and he's in the cage against James Wilks. Neither of these men have very strong accents -- Wilks has been living in the U.S. for eight years -- so I don't want either of them to make the house. Bring back Gary Kelly's indecipherable accent! In another quick submission, Wilks wins with a first round leg lock.
Stapleton vs. James: Martin Stapleton is the next lightweight, and he has an awesome hat, cauliflower ear and accent. I think I've spotted my favorite! Stapleton is fighting Dan James from Wales, also the home of Catherine Zeta-Jones. Stapleton easily wins with another first round submission, a rear naked choke.
Wenn vs. Pearson: A.J. Wenn is from Wisbech. He's also a lightweight who is taking on Ross Pearson, a guy who loves fighting from Nottingham. Ooh, if he makes it, can we call him the Sheriff? This is the first fight that goes to the second round, as it is filled with good clinches and scrambles. Pearson ends the round with a few knees, and then ends the fight just seconds into the second round. The Sheriff is headed to Vegas!
Maguire vs. Osipczak: Tommy Maguire fights because he can't sing and he can't act. He is facing Nick Osipczak in a welterweight bout. Nick is excited to be fighting a ginger in Maguire. (Ed. note: You got a problem with gingers, Nick? BRING IT.) Nick did, in fact, bring it, dropping Maguire with a knee.
Reid vs. Amasinger: A welterweight, Alex Reid wants to look into his opponents' eyes and see in his soul. Have a good time with that. Apparently, he is going to be looking into Dean Amasinger's soul. Dean has a very poor Mr. T imitation, and little experience. However, Dean can get out triangle chokes. A lot of them. Reid asked Dean to hit him, and Dean obliged. This fight actually went to the third round, where Dean worked a strong stand-up, took Alex down, almost got triangled, but then won by decision.
Bateman vs. Faulkner: James Bateman and David Faulkner is another welterweight battle. Faulkner is a Wolfslair boy. Bisping tells White before the fight that Faulkner is mentally weak. Apparently, his heel hooks work without being mentally strong, because Faulkner wins in the first round.
Dana White is impressed by the fighters he saw, and Bisping can't wait to get to Vegas to turn them into mini-Bispings. He hands out the team jerseys, and the Team UK logo looks like a lot like the logo for the University of Kentucky. Will John Calipari do a guest coaching stint?
Next week, we will see the Americans fight. One guy faints, and another one looks like he has trouble cutting weight. What fun!
- Michael Bisping