The Ultimate Fighter Season 9 debut featured 16 fighters from the UK trying to make Team UK and earn a shot to Las Vegas. Every fighter seemed ready to brawl and was hungry to get that ticket. The fights were staged at the Wolfslair which is coach Michael Bisping's home gym.
It was kind of awkward throughout the 8 fights as Bisping had 3 fighters from his gym trying out and a few more that he knew personally. As such, some fighters got a little more coaching than others. Regardless, I enjoyed the episode and the raw feel of a cage and only a few spectators.
These guys seemed to be matched up well. The only slight favorite to go down was Che Mills, who got a tough draw in the more experienced James Wilks. I had Che as a 2-3 seed, and Wilks around 4-5. Team UK's advancing lightweights might have more talent than the welterweights.
Andre Winner def Gary Kelly via KO(knee) R1- Andre Winner completely dominated the Wolfslair trained Gary Kelly. Kelly got stuck in a Thai clinch and ate a vicious knee to the face. Winner followed Kelly as he crumpled to the canvas and the bout was called. An oxygen mask was needed, but Kelly was ok.
Jeff Lawson def James Bryan via Sub(armbar) R1- Judo ace Jeff Lawson showed off some skills in his defeat of the younger James Bryan. Lawson executed a nice hip toss to get the fight to the ground, then went to work. After some posteuring, Lawson locked in an armbar to defeat Bryan.
James Wilks def Che Mills via Sub(kneebar) R1- Wilks ate some serious punishment from Mills until the fight went to the ground. Wilks leaned back and sunk in the kneebar with Mills responding too late. Wilks stated that he had been training in the US for the past few years.
Martin Stapleton def Dan James via Sub(rear naked choke) R1- Stapleton controlled the action standing, sneaking in punches on James. Once the bout got to the ground, all James could do was try to grab Stapleton's gloves before the rear naked choke was in. Stapleton, a military man, declared it the fight of his life.
Ross Pearson def A.J. Wenn via KO(punches) R2- Pearson and Wenn spent most of the first round in the clinch trading shots before Pearson snuck in two vicious standing knees to close out the round. With Wenn wobbled, Pearson smelled blood and attacked in the second round landing a left right combination followed by punches.
Nick Osipczak def Tommy Maguire via KO(knee) R1- Osipczak controlled the action from start to finish as Maguire seemed to run out of gas about three minutes in. From there, Osipczak threw a flurry of punches before a knee knocked out Maguire.
Dean Amasinger def Alex Reid via decision- Amasinger won by getting the fight to the ground. Reid attempted a number of triangles, but none were sunk deep enough.
David Faulkner def James Bateman via Sub(kneebar) R1- Bisping's training partner Faulkner went for a takedown early before getting in the clinch. After eating a little punishment, Faulkner got the takedown, rolling into a kneebar.
TEAM UK Welterweights - 170
Team UK Lightweights - 155
*By the looks of the next episode, it appears one of the potential Team USA fighters will have issues making weight.