Episode 6: $100 a Tooth
Previously on TUF, Team UK was off to a great start, winning the first two fights, while all the Americans seemed capable of was bickering. Finally, last week, Demarques Johnson got Team US their first win with a quick submission over Dean Amasinger, while Bisping failed to show for the fight. Tonight, we are treated to two more preliminary fights.
Just as we are all talking about it, Bisping’s no-show is the talk of the guys. Amasinger is disappointed in himself, and Cameron tries to give him advice about avoiding triangles. This sparks commentary from Pierce who makes fun of Cameron, adding that he can’t stand the guy. Of course, Cameron overhears this, and his comeback is to call him a grumpy f**k. Cameron doesn’t like being in the house with all the tension, realizes he’s not well liked and might get picked next to fight.
Drum roll….the next fight choice from Team UK — Martin “Stapes” Stapleton vs. Cameron Dollar. Of course, each team gives the advantage to their own guy. The Brits claim that Stapleton doesn’t make mistakes, that he’s too aggressive for Cameron, etc.
Later at the gym, Bisping is finally where he’s supposed to be, and asks Dean how the fight went. He begins to apologize for his absence, which he blames on passing out due to jet lag and lack of sleep. He admits that what he did is inexcusable, especially over something like sleep. They go on to discuss Stapes, who Bisping claims is the strongest wrestler on the UK Team. His strategy is to block Cameron’s takedowns and to use striking as his advantage. Stapes seems angry and wants to take it out on Dollar.
In the house, Lester comments about the hostility of the house — the anger of Stapes in particular, who can thankfully take a joke. Cameron just looks afraid and anxious…the kid is seriously afraid to fight.
This is even a concern to Henderson, who thinks Cameron is more interested in learning to fight on the ground and grappling, than he is in his stand-up, which he himself admits is TERRIBLE. Hendo hopes he can just be made to do it. If Cameron can stick to the game plan, Hendo doesn’t think he’ll lose.
Martin Stapleton vs. Cameron Dollar
Round 1: Both dance and fake a bit. Twenty seconds into the round and still nothing is thrown. Finally, Stapleton throws a good jab. A kick from Dollar gets caught. Dollar goes in to jab and rattles Stapleton who goes for the takedown. They clinch and Dollar manages a sweet judo throw and ends up on top. Stapleton eventually turns over giving up his back. Dollar goes for the rear naked choke but can’t sink it. With his legs wrapped tight around Stapleton, he hammer fists and seriously beats up on him from behind. He gets the hooks in again and finally sinks the choke. Stapleton taps.
Winner: Cameron Dollar via Submission (Rear naked choke)
Stapes is visibly devastated, and Bisping is devastated for him. On the other hand, Hendo is ecstatic. The teams are finally two-all! A surprise win by Dollar and Team US is electrified! Let’s just hope the feeling continues.
The next day, the guys gather for the next fight announcement: Frank Lester vs. James Wilks. Coaches on both sides seem to like the match-up. Me? I’m scared for Frank.
James discusses his upbringing and move into MMA. Wilks thinks Frank is strong, but stiff and thinks he’ll use his standup, which is fine by him. He has “heard” that Frank has no ground game which is where Wilks is comfortable. His strategy is to see where it goes, then take him to the ground and submit him.
The Americans do not think nearly so highly of James Wilks. They discuss how Wilks doesn’t like to be punched in the face. An animated Lester says that he’s a spoiled brat, living in the US for the last 10 years (claiming that he’s a traitor to the UK). Basically, Frank has A LOT to say. For some reason or another, Frank REALLY seems to dislike Wilks. Hendo’s strategy for him is to stick and move and throw straight, fast punches…to pick him apart on his feet. During training, Hendo is worried that Frank is too energetic and needs to calm down. They just want him to STOP (literally)! When they finally get him to sit down and stop moving, he goes on a rant about what’s going on in his head (uh, psychotic are we?). On the ride home, Demarques makes the fight interesting by offering Frank $100 per tooth for every tooth of Wilks’ that he knocks out. *sigh*….only Demarques.
Frank Lester vs. James Wilks
Round 1: Already Lester can’t stop moving. Wilks tries to catch him and lands a couple jabs. Good straight kick from Wilks. Finally Lester lands a straight jab to Wilks’ face. Wilks counters with a couple shots, but Lester lands several shots to either side of Wilks’ head. Lester keeps coming at Wilks with wild swings. Good leg kick from Wilks. Lester lands good jabs, one of which rocks Wilks and he ends up on his back. Lester rains down hammer fists and it looks like it might be over, but suddenly Wilks has his leg and looks like he’s going for a heel hook. Lester gets out of it and they get back up, but Lester stumbles backward and Wilks is on top of him. He keeps posturing for position, and ends up in side control but can do nothing with the advantage. They stand up and exchange. Wilks leaps up, wrapping his legs around Lester and tries to pull him down into a submission, but slides right off. Lester keeps landing solid jabs, but Wilks can take a punch. They clinch against the cage and both are clearly tired. A straight kick from Wilks nearly gets caught and they clinch again. Good knees from Wilks. Wilks wraps his arms around Lester and slams him down. In half guard, he more or less just lays on Lester and the round ends.
They ring the bell for the second round to start and Lester is complaining about missing teeth. He turns around, while everyone is waiting and the clock is ticking. Bisping is calling for the ref’s attention — if he can’t fight, he can’t fight! The ref tries to figure out what’s going on, and it appears that one of Lester’s teeth is stuck in the mouthpiece, which then wouldn’t fit. The situation gets resolved and we can get back to the fight…
Round 2: Wilks comes out with a kick that nearly gets caught. Wilks is much more aggressive this round to start. A big swing and a miss from Lester is evidence he’s tired. A HUGE head kick from Wilks causes Lester to back up a lot and into the cage. Wilks goes for the takedown, but can’t get it. They clinch and Wilks lands great uppercuts. Lester counters with a good knee. They continue to clinch. Again, Wilks goes for the takedown and has Lester against the cage. Wilks lands good jabs, but so does Lester. They clinch and Wilks finally takes Lester down. In side control, Wilks easily swings over for the full mount. Lester tries to roll, but Wilks won’t let him. Lester returns to his back and Wilks pries his arms apart and stretches out for the arm bar. Lester taps almost immediately.
Winner: James Wilks via Submission (arm bar)
Dana tries to clarify all the drama between the rounds, which was apparently that one of Frank’s fake teeth was literally lodged in the mouthpiece — merely a technical difficulty. Bisping whines about Frank getting extra time to rest (but hello, so did James!). The first round was easily a back and forth, split round, but round two was ALL Wilks. This was another huge win for Team UK, and another disappointment for Team USA.
Next week looks like it could be ripped from the headlines. Infections wreak havoc at the house! The word herpes is even thrown around (gross!). What’s worse? Team UK’s unorthodox training backfires (it seems as though a Brit hits himself with a hammer) and Team USA tries to avenge Lester’s loss. Once again we will be treated to two more preliminary fights.
My thoughts on tonight? At least at the beginning of this episode, I was starting to worry that the show was fixed. Cameron being so damn afraid to fight really had me questioning Dana’s choice of American fighters. Did he set Team USA up to lose?? But, I have to admit, Cameron surprised me. He handled Stapes pretty well and surprised us all with a win. I can’t say that I had hope for Lester either. After his performance against Kiel Reid, I wasn’t exactly expecting a highly-skilled fighter. But I’ll be damned, the kid can take a punch! He lasted a lot longer against Wilks than I really thought he would. Granted, he was pretty sloppy in round one, and was manhandled in round two, but he actually demonstrated some real ability. Impressive? Hardly. But I’d say he’s got some potential.
So is this season fixed in favor of the Brits? It might still be too early to tell. But Dana is a businessman, and the UK is a huge market for the UFC. We shall see, we shall see….