(Click above for the completed TUF 9 welterweight bracket. Props: Wikipedia.)
With the last welterweight semifinal coming up, Team U.S. comes together for one last barbecue. Frank Lester gets all swoony over Dan Henderson, telling Hendo "your eyes don’t look bad at all" and "I wouldn’t fuck with you because of your ears." This is what six weeks without women will do to a man.
Damarques Johnson does his best to build up Lester’s confidence for his fight against James Wilks. He says James can’t absorb as much damage as Frank and be okay with it. We never really got to see why Damarques hates James so much, but Damarques tells us that "James is just such a pompous prick, and I want Frank to hurt him badly." He also refers to James as a "pretty boy." Seriously. This James Wilks. I think it’s safe to say that Damarques has a different standard of beauty than the rest of us. Just another example of how the absence of females can distort your perceptions.
Observing that the standup exchanges in their first fight were fairly even, Michael Bisping wants James to take Frank down and finish him there. Hendo wants straighter punches from Frank — no more wild loopers — and more of them.
James checks out pictures of Frank’s little daughter and says "she’s cute." If he had said that to Damarques, he’d probably wake up with teeth missing. But apparently James and Frank are bros now. They sign shirts for each other, and cut weight together in the sauna. Frank opens up about how he always fights with rage unless he knows and likes his opponent, which actually makes him settle down and fight better. Despite Frank’s confidence and clear head, James calmly predicts a first-round stoppage victory.
For Team U.K.’s final team dinner, Dean Amasinger makes his famous curry chicken. Proud of his guys, Bisping gets a little emotional and tells them "You’re all my mates now as well." Wilks punks Bisping with a bar trick to the great amusement of the Brits. After the coaches leave, Andre Winner starts spitting food, then tosses a handful of curry at Dean’s face. Dean, who slaved over the meal all day, is not happy. He chases Andre down and tosses him into the pool. As he’s climbing out, Andre gets antiqued hardcore by Dave.
Frank starts crying in his bunk the night before the fight. Damarques is there once again to soothe his nerves: "You were put here to fight James tomorrow…there’s nothing to be scared of, just fuckin’ embrace it." Lester says he’s not scared, he just doesn’t want to let anybody down. Damarques says "Dude, trust me, you’ve represented yourself, you’ve represented your family, you’ve represented the U.S. well, the entire time you’ve been here. Win, lose, or draw tomorrow, Frank, dude, you’re gonna be a fuckin’ rockstar."
And it’s fight time. U.K. coach Dave Jackson tells James Wilks "Don’t let him back in the house," and Bisping has to explain to him that it’s the last day. "You know what I mean," Jackson says.
Round 1: James opens with a leg kick and a stiff left hand, before kicking Frank in the nuts. "Perfect!" shouts Bisping. When the action is restarted, Frank lands a leg kick, but James returns with a leg kick and a body kick. He lands a nice punch combo then backs off. Frank gets in a leg kick. Bisping says "no!" to the flying knee that James thinks about throwing. James lands a leg kick and a jab, but Frank gives them right back. They trade hard punches. James bulls Frank into the cage but can’t take him down. After some dirty boxing, Frank lands a few heavy shots, and James clinches to stop the damage. James tries again for the takedown, but fails again. Frank gets in some shots in the clinch. James stricks the jab and Frank throws his famous wild haymakers to close the round, hitting nothing. Both coaches tell their guys that they won that round.
Round 2: Lester kicks James straight in the balls, evening the low blow score. James flicks a kick to Frank’s face. Frank lands a left and James smiles. Finding his range, James gets in a left that staggers Frank. He dodges Frank’s shots, smiles some more, and does a few wide, mocking hooks. (Hey, I thought you guys were supposed to be BFFs.) James lands a push kick then an uppercut. James shoots, Frank stuffs. James gets in some punches in the clinch, and Frank is bloodied. They separate and trade shots, and James begins to land his jab at will. Hendo says "you go first, Frank" for the hundredth time. James lands another Tae Kwon Do-style roundhouse to Frank’s face, then lands a group of punches before Frank shoots in and tries for the takedown. Wilks defends it, then grabs a Thai clinch and starts throwing knees. They separate and trade punches to the bell. After a close first round, this one was all James Wilks.
Round 3: Frank is gassed. Despite Hendo’s desperate orders for Frank to "go first," James goes first with a leg kick and a jab. Frank throws a slow-motion leg kick, and James returns with a teep, leg kick, big right hand, and a knee in the clinch. Wilks tries to take Frank down but can’t. They trade shots. Wilks lands another knee in a Thai clinch, and another on the fence. One more knee drops Frank. He gets up, but James fires the knees until Frank drops for the second time and Herb Dean calls it off. The last knee (or two) landed while Lester was down, but he was already out, and nobody feels like protesting it.
Mark Miller thinks James’s hotdogging was "gay." Damarques vows to "take that Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and shove it up his ass" during this Saturday’s finale.
Hendo chalks up Frank’s loss to him being worn out coming into the fight. "Too many wars in a short period of time." Dana applauds Lester as "without a fuckin doubt, one of the toughest son of a bitches I’ve ever met." It’s no consolation to Frank, who takes the loss very hard and feels like he let down his team and family. "Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, I’m drained, man," he says.
Bisping gloats about the 3-1 score in the U.K.’s favor heading into the finals. But Damarques ain’t skurred. He just wants to go in and destroy James Wilks: "His mannerisms, his fuckin’ face just tugs on my lifecord and makes me want to hurt something."
Hendo on Bisping: "For lack of a better word, he’s just a douchebag."
Bisping on Hendo: "I’m gonna destroy the guy. This is my time now. I think Dan Henderson’s had his time, to be honest, and I think he might be underestimating me."
Dana White on the lesson of the season: "This is gonna be the biggest sport in the world in the next ten years."