It’s time to pick TUF 9‘s semi-final matchups, and while this could have been another opportunity for an argument, Bisping and Henderson are pretty much on the same page. They’d like to see Cameron/Ross and Jason/Andre in the lightweight bracket, and James/Demarques and Nick/Frank for the welterweights. The fighters are asked who they want to take on. James wants Damarques and Damarques wants James. ("I want to hurt his feelings.") Nick wants Frankie and Frankie wants Nick. Ross wants Jason, but Jason wants Andre, and Andre is "happy to fight eeva."
Cameron breaks ranks and brings up his teammate Jason Dent as the guy he’d like to fight. He tries to backtrack, but the seed has already been planted in Dana’s head. DW suggests putting teammates against each other in the semis. "Fuck that, no way," Bisping says. Then, echoing the thoughts of every Internet message board conspiracy theorist: "What so you can guarantee one of each in the finals?…I think we have the stronger team and you’re worried that you’ll have an all-UK final."
Finally, Dana decides to keep it U.S. vs. U.K. all the way, and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. But perhaps as punishment, he doesn’t give the fighters or coaches the matchups they want, except for Ross (and maybe Andre, I guess). The semi-final matchups will be
Wilks/Lester is a rematch of the fight where Lester lost his front teeth. On the bright side, Frank is the only guy in TUF history to win a fight after being brought back as an alternate.
Both teams do a little bonding over ribs and Coronas. Afterwards, Jason Pierce compliments Dave Faulkner about how awesome Team U.K. is. Richie overhears and calls him out about it. Pierce says the Americans break dishes, get drunk, and act stupid, and Richie calls him a quitter and says fighting with a fucked-up face like Frank Lester is as American as it gets. Jason says "Jump weight!" a few dozen times and Faulkner has to separate them.
It gets worse. Pierce starts telling Dave about some of Ricardo "Pantcho" Feliciano‘s jiu-jitsu tricks. "He’s not a part of Team USA anymore," Richie says. Then, Richie tells us that Faulkner told Nick that Pierce told him how Demarques trains and his fighting habits. In case you can’t unravel that little grapevine chain, the bottom line is that Pierce is now a spy for team U.K. At practice, Dan Henderson asks Pierce if the turncoat rumors are true. He denies everything, but looks like a guilty sack of shit doing it. Dan tells him he’s still part of the team.
Nick gets taken down and beaten up by everyone on his team in a grueling shark-bait training session. He’s a little nervous to be facing Team U.S.’s best guy, but he thinks he mentally stronger than Damarques and wants to break his spirit.
Damarques thinks he’s the best in the house. He says he came in with good striking and jiu jitsu, and picked up a clinch game and ground-and-pound while in the house. Hendo thinks he’ll go all the way too. Damarques prays: "Dear lord, here I am again, another leap of faith, another test of skill. I don’t pray for victory, I just pray that I perform well."
Round 1: Damarques jabs, and Nick returns a hard leg kick. Damarques sticks the jab. Nick punches to the body, then adds a leg kick. Nick clinches, and Damarques takes him down and gets on top, but Nick escapes with no damage. They trade punches, with Damarques landing his stiff jab almost at will. A kick from nick is returned with a left hook from Damarques. After a sloppy clinch attempt, Nick is on his back again. Nick’s armbar attempt fails. Damarques moves to half-guard and works for the mount but Nick defends. Nick throws a couple elbows from the bottom, and Damarques gives one back from the top. Damarques can’t make much happen from his position, so he stands up, and Nick immediately shoots in, taking a knee to the face. But then Nick pulls out of the clinch and rocks Damarques badly with a flurry of punches. Damarques swings desperately to back Nick off as the round ends.
Round 2: Damarques comes out smiling. Nick throws an overhand right and clinches, taking a big knee. Damarques goes to the body. Nick shoots, Damarques sprawls and gets on top in side control. He moves to full guard after a botched submission attempt, and Nick starts setting up a triangle. Damarques moves back to half-guard and tries for a kimura but loses it and starts slugging from the top, getting in an elbow then two big punches. Nick tries an armbar but Damarques dodges it and moves to mount. Nick rolls to avoid punches, turtling on his side, while Damarques throws down elbows to Nick’s ear. Bisping screams "referee, back of the head!" a few times. Though Nick is turtled for about the last 30 seconds of the fight doing nothing but taking elbows and punches, Herb Dean lets him survive to the bell, and Bisping has to drag his exhausted and dizzy fighter back to the stool.
For a moment, it seems like Nick might pull a Dave Faulkner and quit in the corner, but after a pep talk from Bisping, he shouts "YES!" Bisping says: "Forget that last round, that round didn’t happen."
Round 3: They trade jabs. A right hook and a body kick from Nick. Damarques is gassed, swinging at air. but lands a big right, then a straight left and a left hook. Damarques clinches and tries to end the fight with a flying knee, but Nick stays upright. Damarques changes levels with his punches, landing most of them. Nick stumbles away then tries a weak spinning backfist. Both guys have run out of gas. Damarques lands two more punches then catches a kick from Nick and takes him down. Damarques fires elbows from the top then scores mount. Nick rolls and Damarques takes his back, but nick reverses and gets on top. They swing at each other on the ground until the final horn.
Damarques scores the unanimous decision win and has a golden ticket to the finals. After the match, he tells Bisping that he looks up to him, and Bisping says "congratulations, hell of a fight," so their little beef is pretty much squashed now. Damarques discovers that he bit off a chunk of his own tongue during the fight, and Nick is depressed after his first-ever loss. And we’re just a week away from the lightweight fights, which Team U.K. has a good chance of sweeping…