Sherdog.com’s Guide to TUF 9

In the annals of “The Ultimate Fighter” history, only one other fighter has ever been eliminated, brought back and actually won his fight upon returning. Season seven’s CB Dollaway was the first. Last week, Frank Lester became the second, securing his place in the books and in the semi-finals with the remaining winners.

At this juncture, the entire cast has fought once (Jason Pierce notwithstanding) and it’s time to figure out who will be facing whom in the semi-finals.

As usual, UFC President Dana White meets with the coaches to discuss what kind of matchups they’d like to see. Once White has their input, he turns to the fighters themselves to see whom they’d like to meet. Then, once he’s gotten all the recommendations, he pretty much disregards it all and makes his own choices. This season is no exception.

Coaches Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping have pretty much the same idea for matchups -- most notably a welterweight tilt between James Wilks and Damarques Johnson since there is some bad blood there. Both fighters also name each other in their separate meetings with White. Johnson tells White he is up for a jaunt with Wilks “’cause I want to hurt his feelings.”

Not all of the fighters are as decisive. Cameron Dollar struggles to name a British candidate he’d fight.

“It sounds retarded,” Dollar begins to explain, “just because Dent has talked.”

“You want to fight your own teammate?” asks Bisping, cutting him off.

Cameron relents but his honesty has apparently given White an epiphany. White spooks out both coaches by tossing out a teammate vs. teammate scenario to ensure a U.S.-U.K. showdown makes the finale.

However, both coaches are opposed to that plan and ultimately White decides to stay the course.

The boys are corralled into the room and the matchups are announced:

Nicholas Osipczak vs. Damarques Johnson
Andre Winner vs. Cameron Dollar
Ross Pearson vs. Jason Dent
James Wilks vs. Frank Lester (rematch)

Photo Courtesy: Spike TV

Johnson is in the finals.
Afterward, both teams are treated to a barbecue at the house. Before the pig can get cold though, Richie Whitson walks in on Jason Pierce having another one of his heart-to-hearts with his buddy David Faulkner. Whitson call Pierce out for never speaking with his U.S. teammates.

Pierce doesn’t mince his reply.

“I don’t talk to you guys because your dumb f---s. You guys get drunk, you break bottles. You break dishes, you act like f---ing animals.”

Whitson counters by calling out Pierce for his reluctance to fight. Pierce has another entertaining retort.

“I ain’t going to submit you,” says Pierce. “I’m going to smash your eyeballs.”

Bet he wishes he had a few more seconds with that one.

Pierce continues his talk with Faulkner and throws him some jiu-jitsu pointers, even giving the Brit a few words about the cage tendencies of some of his U.S. teammates.

Later, the U.S. squad overhears Faulkner telling Nick Osipczak what to look for against Johnson.

When coach Henderson finds out about “Benedict Pierce,” Hendo confronts him during training. Pierce assures him that he’s done nothing of the sort.

The first semi-final bout rolls around between Johnson and the lanky Osipczak.

Osipczak walks in undefeated but he figures that Johnson will be his toughest test yet.

“I’m going to try and break his spirit,” says Osipczak.

It won’t be an easy task, as Johnson’s confidence is at an all-time high.

“After seeing everybody fight and everybody train, I think I’m the best on in the house personally,” says Johnson. “Now I’m a fighter who’s scary in the clinch and scary in the ground-and-pound.”

His coach agrees with him.

“I think he’s going to win the show,” says Henderson, giving Johnson the ultimate nod of approval.

The bell sounds and Osipczak goes low with his strategy, landing a few leg kicks with some snap. Johnson comes right back with a one-two combo that wakes Osipczak up. Johnson then lands an uppercut, moves in for a great throw and tosses Osipczak onto his forehead with a sickening thud.

Osipczak gets back to his feet and lunges right back at Johnson’s lead leg with some more kicks. Johnson’s jab is stellar, turning into a power punch that Osipczak steps right into.

The two go to the ground in a scramble and Johnson passes guard, but Osipczak’s long legs slink back around quickly. Osipczak peppers Johnson’s head with some elbows, while keeping him in his guard.

Seconds from the bell, Osipczak kicks Johnson off enough to get out and back on his feet. He launches an uppercut that backs Johnson to the fence.

Sensing Johnson is in trouble, Osipczak lets loose a flurry. Johnson retaliates with some “Hail Mary” punches and the two slug it out for a wild finish to the round. Osipczak lands a final uppercut to steal the round from Johnson in the last 20 seconds.

In the second round, Osipczak is only able to get off one or two more of those kicks to Johnson’s lead leg before the two are back on the ground. Johnson’s ground-and-pound finally emerges. Osipczak successfully fends him off for a few minutes, while Johnson goes for a Kimura and lands a few elbows. Johnson finally mounts Osipczak and slaps on a body triangle once he gives up his back. Osipczak is forced to cover up while Johnson pelts his ears with punches to end the round.

Coach Bisping has to scoop his fighter up from the mat after the second round, but Osipczak comes in punchy in the third, landing some more leg kicks and a great hook to the body. There are more good jabs from Johnson as well, and Osipczak looks like he might be wilting.

Johnson begins to land everything he throws, but his energy is a little too sapped to have much power. Johnson catches a kick and pushes Osipczak onto his back, where he works in a few elbows from on top.

Johnson ignores coach Henderson’s advice to apply “hip pressure,” which allows Osipczak to walk up the fence with his feet and reverse position. Osipczak gains top position for the first time in the fight, but he’s got nothing left as the final moments pass.

Johnson wins the decision and is the first contestant of season nine to secure a place in the finals.

Osipczak is left to lick the wounds of his first defeat ever. Johnson won’t be licking anything anytime soon. The American finalist bit into his tongue pretty hard during the bout, and is holding up one of his taste buds in the episode’s final shot.
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