’s Guide to TUF 9

By Scott Holmes May 7, 2009
A week ago, the team representing the red, white and blue picked up its first win of the season, as Team UK’s Dean Amasinger found himself on the business end of a Damarques Johnson triangle choke. To make matters worse for Amasinger, his coach, Michael Bisping, was nowhere to be found.

Bisping made amends with Amasinger on episode six, as he offered a wholehearted apology and blamed his absence on jet lag. He had overslept.

“I just hope he forgives me for it because it is inexcusable, to be honest,” Bisping said.

The fact that Team UK was in charge of picking the next matchup provided one consolation.

“I have a feeling I’m getting picked next,” Team USA’s Cameron Dollar said, “but then again, I felt that way the entire time I’ve been here.”

This time, he was right, as Bisping decided to match Dollar with Martin Stapleton.

“It was actually interesting to see Cameron’s face during the faceoff,” Amasinger said. “He looked like he didn’t want to fight ‘Stapes,’ and I don’t blame him because Stapes is a [expletive] animal.”

Dollar agreed with his UK counterpart and even made mention of Stapleton’s scary looks. Instead of offering the standard bravado most fighters like to spew, Dollar gulped and assessed his situation.

“I got myself into this situation,” he said, “and I’m going to get myself back out.”

In contrast, Stapleton chomped at the bit.

“To see the Americans celebrate after beating one of our guys pissed me off, big time,” Stapleton said. “Cameron Dollar? I feel bad for him.”

Back at the house, the pending fight had Dollar tightly wound. He discussed his pre-fight jitters with Frank Lester, and Stapleton, having overheard the conversation, jokingly offered to fight everyone in the room. Others laughed, but Dollar looked visibly shaken. By then, most of Team UK was wholly convinced Stapleton was too dialed in for destruction to be denied.

“My stand-up’s terrible,” Dollar later said, confessing wrestling as his true love.

During one training session with striking coach Cyrille Diabate, Dollar missed the pads being held by the Frenchman. Things did not look promising for the Americans.

“How can you miss?” Diabate asked.

Photo Courtesy: SpikeTV

Team UK cast.
(Click to enlarge)
Coach Dan Henderson hatched a plan for Dollar, which involved “getting the whip on his ass and making him do it.”

Still, Dollar worried.

“As much as I love fighting,” he said, “I hate fighting.”

Stapleton, an ex-Marine, showed no nerves, while Dollar made like a dog that tinkles at the sound of a raised voice. As the fight approached, Lester tried to calm Dollar’s nerves.

“He’s a tough little [expletive],” Lester said, “but, you know what, tough little [expletives] get beat up all the time.”

Dollar’s stand-up might have been a weakness, but early on in the fight, he connected with a glancing overhand right that brought Stapleton to his knees. The Brit rebounded and tried for a takedown, but Dollar tossed him onto his back. From there, the bout was a one-sided affair.

Dollar locked up Stapleton with a body triangle and attacked until he secured the choke for which he was looking. Despite all his worries, Dollar handled Stapleton with relative ease in less than two minutes. The victory gave his coach something to smile about.

“The look of shock on Bisping’s face was as nice as I expected it to be,” Henderson said with a grin, his team having pulled into a 2-2 tie.

No time was wasted between fights, as Dollar’s buddy, Lester, was pitted against James Wilks.

“We know James has good jiu-jitsu,” Lester said, “but we know he’s a [expletive] on his feet.”

Lester, the anti-Dollar, paced like a dog in a cage.

“Frank is crazy -- but good crazy,” teammate Santino Defranco said.

Henderson and Diabate tried to settle down Lester, who seemed unable to switch off his intensity. The coaches forced him to take a break and convinced him to take a more focused and serene approach.

“Every time I see James in the house,” Lester said, “I just want to tackle him and take him down and beat his head in.”

Once the fight began, Lester looked like he might follow through. A left and a right sent Wilks stumbling backwards, but when the 24-year-old Iraq War veteran swarmed for the kill, the Brit dropped for an ankle. Lester fell back, having lost his momentum, and was forced to fend off a submission. From that point forward, the fight became a flying fist fest.

Wilks nailed Lester with knees to the body from side control, but he could not hold down the American. Lester also connected with heavy shots in the first round, only to be answered in kind. Wilks had the upper hand in the clinch, though, and delivered a devastating knee that knocked loose Lester’s mouthpiece near the end of the opening period.

The fight was delayed during the break, as Lester had trouble with his mouth guard. Bisping was livid, and screamed at referee Steve Mazzagatti to penalize the American for stalling. Irony had entered the building.

Prior to the bout, Lester’s teammate, the recently eliminated Mark Miller, had repeatedly offered bounties on Wilks’ teeth. In fact, he offered a handsome reward of $100 for every tooth Lester removed. In a strange twist of fate, the vicious knee from Wilks had knocked out four of Lester’s teeth, one of which was still caught in his mouthpiece. Henderson finally pried the tooth free and put the guard back in Lester’s mouth. However, Lester was never the same.

Wilks remained carefree, as he connected with a solid high kick and used his Thai clinch to wear down Lester. After he slung the American to the floor, Wilks moved to mount, pounded away and set up an armbar that had Lester verbally submitting before it was fully employed.

Fittingly, Lester closed the episode by coughing up another tooth into the trashcan.
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