The TUF Diaries: Season 9

Hard to believe that Ross Pearson is now the sole survivor of this season! Again ignore any anachronisms, this was written originally for another site in 2013. I'm currently re-watching TUF: Nations so I'll be posting one of these for that season soon, hopefully.

TUF 9: This was the USA vs. UK season that was super-low on talent particularly from the US side. Ross Pearson is the only remaining cast member on the UFC roster although you could argue that a couple more should still be around, but we'll get to that later. Coaches were Dan Henderson (USA) and Michael Bisping (UK) leading to their infamous/legendary (depending on where you're from, ha) fight at UFC 100. One pointer is that this series - or so I've heard - was *really* geared up towards the UK fans rather than the US, as this was 2009 just as UFC signed the ESPN deal and expected big things in the UK that didn't really come. So due to that premise, apparently both Benson Henderson and Tyron Woodley were turned down when they auditioned for the US team as Zuffa didn't want a pair of massive wrestlers being able to ground and pound their way over the UKers. Wild stuff if true as that would've changed the entire landscape of this season.

Episode 1 - We start off in Liverpool as Fucking Dana White, UK coach Michael Bisping, and both Rich Franklin AND Dan Henderson (who fought to decide who would coach) settle down to watch the UK fighters earn their spot on the team. Eight fights and they're all pretty good with only one going to decision. The lone decision is Dean Amasinger over Alex Reid, and you would not BELIEVE the amount of times I had to explain to non-MMA fans that no, Alex Reid wasn't a big UFC star and he'd in fact lost a shot to get on TUF. For Americans who might not know, Reid married famous glamour model and UK tabloid favourite Katie 'Jordan' Price later in 2009 and became a pretty big celebrity himself for a year or so before fading out of the limelight and during that period scarily he was seen as the "face" of UK MMA by the ignorant masses. Anyway. Other good fights? James Wilks catching Che Mills in a heel hook in seconds and tapping him, as Che was the big favourite to win the whole thing going in. Nick Osipczak - fighting like a British Gegard Mousasi - knocks out John Maguire's brother and Andre Winner knocks out Paul Kelly's brother. Overall it's a fun episode with some good finishes.

Episode 2 - By this point Hendo is confirmed as the US coach. Thankfully Bisping doesn't make the US entry fights as he would've had a field day with how it begins. First off Jason Pierce pulls a Phillipe and faints, but it's due to cutting too much weight. At least he actually makes weight unlike Christian Fulgium, who fails miserably, even falling off the treadmill at one point in a comical scene. Fucking Dana White is FURIOUS with the guy, ranting that it's "Season 9, you fucker!". and Mark David Shackleford gets the boot for having herpes on his face. It's like the worst bits of the last couple of seasons rolled into one. So only six initial fights here. Mark Miller and Kevin Knabjian are best buddies and training partners so somehow they get matched up. Harsh stuff. Miller gets the KO and it looks like the friendship might be over. Poor guy. Elsewhere Cameron Dollar - complete with shitty hipster Mohawk - chokes out future UFC 145lber Tommy Hayden, Damarques Johnson easily TKOs Thai boxer Ray Elbe, and in the best fight, future UFCer Waylon Lowe puts a serious beatdown on Santino DeFranco for a round, so much so that Santino can barely walk to his corner. Dana thinks it's over, but then Santino comes out in the 2nd, decks Lowe with a knee and chokes him out. One of the best comebacks I've ever seen in MMA, let alone on TUF. And because their opponents dropped out, Jason Dent and Kiel Reid have to fight alternates. Frank Lester is one, and Rob Browning is the other. Rob is the brother of JUNIE BROWNING. Cue ominous music.

Episode 3 - I reckon I must've missed this one somehow because I've got zero memory of it, but as you might've guessed it's crazy. So everyone goes into the house for three days before Dent fights Browning and Lester fights Reid. And everyone gets along, except Browning who manages to piss off EVERYONE by throwing eggs at them, drinking heavily, picking fights with UKers AND his own teammates, and generally acting just as badly as Junie did on the season before. Fortunately for everyone's sanity Dent gets a TKO in the first round to send him packing. Comical to see literally everyone cheering on one fighter but I mean, it's understandable given the circumstances. The other fight is weird as Reid dominates Lester before KOing himself on a slam, Gray Maynard style. Dude seems quite pissed post-fight which is understandable as Lester celebrates and comes off like a bit of a dick. At least Reid, unlike Gray, admitted he was unconscious though.

Episode 4 - Bisping finally arrives after some Visa issues. Henderson gets to pick the first fight and chooses Mark Miller to face off with Nick Osipczak. Already Damarques Johnson is grating to watch in my opinion as he just never shuts up and I mean, he's calling out Bisping for talking trash while consistently being disrespectful about the Brits to his own team and then playing nice-nice when he's actually with them. Dude comes off like a wanker. Anyway the fight is a really good one as Osipczak, known as a kickboxer, surprises Miller by grounding him and working from the top for a lot of the fight before KOing him viciously with a head kick late in the second. Miller Flair flops and everything. So it's UK 1, USA 0 after the first fight. Outside of the fight though this was a slower episode.

Episode 5 - Early on things are centered around the fact that while the UKers are all friends, the USA team don't get along at all. Namely this is because Jason Pierce is a grumpy guy who would rather hang out with the Brits, and he can't stand Cameron Dollar, who to be fair does come off like a real scumbag, claiming that he's "humped at least 80 women". Damarques and Jason Dent also clash because Damarques is pissed off that Dent doesn't like being away from his family. I'd side with Damarques here as Jason knew what he was getting into I guess, but I mean, Damarques is a sorry prick too so it's lose-lose either way. First fight has Andre Winner of Team UK get a TKO in the first over Santino DeFranco. I was gutted for Santino watching this after seeing what he overcame to get into the house, but it is what it is. Second fight comes and Bisping doesn't show. And it goes badly for Team UK too as Dean Amasinger gets triangled in the first by Damarques despite trying the Rampage powerbomb. A pair of decent fights but a low-drama episode in general.

Episode 6 - Very similar to the previous episode. Jason Pierce tells Hendo he'd rather not fight Dave Faulkner as he doesn't think they match up well. They're also buddies which probably plays into it. More on this later. Cameron gets called out to fight in the first one and he's facing Royal Marine and all-round bad ass Martin Stapleton. This is built to be one of the most one-sided fights in TUF history as Bisping and his team talk Stapleton up as a killer and Dollar freely admits he's terrified of the guy and is terrified to fight in general. Fight comes and somehow, Cameron gets an adrenaline rush, cracks Stapes with a right hand, takes him down and chokes him the fuck out. This was a wild fight to watch as you can literally see Cameron give in to his fear and just let his instincts take over and it actually works for him. Fight or flight I guess and Cameron's instinct told him to FIGHT. Second fight has James Wilks against Frank Lester. Pre-fight Lester gets REALLY annoying with his shit-talk about James as really, James has been persona non grata thus far and hasn't said a thing outside of wanting Rob Browning out. Damarques fuels the fire, unsurprisingly, by offering him money to knock out James's teeth, as they think James is a "pretty boy", despite the fact that he's bald and sports a large beard. Fight is a good one as Frank has heart, but James is way too skilled for him in all areas and ends up armbarring him in the second....after knocking four of Frank's teeth out. Karma, motherfucker.

Episode 7 - Richie Whitson has impetigo on his face. Now, this is a catching infectious type skin rash thing but nothing to be concerned about really in my experience, but of course Jason Pierce being an insufferable prick starts spraying anything Richie's been near with disinfectant. Way to make your teammate feel better, dude. As for Team UK, Bisping has them hitting tyres with sledgehammers, probably because it's something Fedor used to do I think. Doesn't go so well as Andre Winner misses the tyre and smashes a bit of the gym floor, while Dave Faulkner somehow hits his own leg and causes some sort of infection there too. It's like Burn After Reading in that they basically learned nothing from the whole situation. Coaches challenge sees Hendo beat Bisping in tennis, as Cameron Dollar calls Mike "whiter than a band aid". More on that later. Fight has Ross Pearson basically own Whitson, armbarring him late in the first after losing a point due to an illegal knee. I'll bet some fucker would claim Bisping taught him such a move.

Episode 8 - So Faulkner can't fight due to his dicky leg, meaning we get the final Lightweight quarter-final - Jeff Lawson vs. Jason Dent. Jason Pierce is also still complaining of some foot injury which would've been hassle for that Faulkner fight anyway. Bit of a low-key episode really outside of a cool segment where Lawson, Dean Amasinger and Dave Faulkner are holding a pro-wrestling match in the house that ends with Faulkner hitting a vertical suplex on Dean off the diving board into the pool. It's mentioned that Lawson had the flu badly when he first entered the house and missed like ten days of training, and it shows in the fight as he does well early and then gasses badly in the second round and succumbs to a nice anaconda choke from Dent. Somehow Dana isn't impressed with Dent but dude come on, how can you not be impressed by an anaconda choke? Episode ends with the big moment as Dana tells Pierce he's throwing him out of the competition due to the vibes he's giving off. Pierce is furious but I think Dana had a point here - Pierce did come off like a man who did not want to fight for love nor money. And thus we've got this season's entry into the pantheon of TUF idiots.

Episode 9 - So with Pierce out, both Mark Miller and Frank Lester are invited to take his spot. Both guys want it quite badly but Miller's nose is busted so Lester is in. Pity because I'd say Miller was the better fighter, but whatever. This is also the episode where Bisping and Hendo argue about the training times and I mean, I don't see how Bisping was in the wrong here as why should Hendo just change the training times on a whim? He is wrong however when he squirts Damarques in the face with his water bottle. Bisping claims it's due to "racist comments" and blames Damarques for the afore-mentioned band aid comment. When he finds it out was actually Cameron, he apologises. Can't defend Bisping here but I mean, it's Damarques and he comes off as a dick anyway so c'est la vie. Final bit of pre-fight ish as Bisping takes Dave Faulkner to a hypnotherapist to try to combat the gag reflex he has with his mouthpiece. It's about as effective as Gabe Ruediger's colonic. Faulkner wins the first round, Lester takes the second in a gritty brawl. And as they announce that it's time for a third....Faulkner quits on his stool, as the "USA!" chants rain down over the training centre. "I really fucking enjoyed it though!" says Dave post-fight, like that makes him look any better. Bisping takes his guys who did win (Wilks, Osipczak, Winner and Pearson) aside and tells them in no uncertain terms that Dave quit, and he doesn't want them to do the same thing. Word, Mike.

Episode 10 - Fighters discuss with Dana and the coaches who they want in the semi-finals. In a surprising but cool moment, Dana literally says to Cameron fuck the teams for a second, who do you want? And Cameron outright says Jason Dent because he hates his guts, which takes a ton of backbone to say in front of your coach. Good on Cameron. He doesn't get his wish though as Bisping and Hendo both balk at the teammate vs. teammate idea. We end up with Winner vs. Dollar, Pearson vs. Dent, Osipczak vs. Johnson and a rematch between Wilks and Lester. Bit of drama before the first semi as Richie Whitson hears Pierce telling Faulkner how Damarques performs in training. Pierce really is a slimy character. Fight is a fucking doozy between Osipczak and Johnson as Damarques just about outworks Slick Nick to take a decision. Dana calls it one of the best fights in TUF history and I'd be inclined to agree. I'm still bitter about how Nick left the UFC actually as he ended up being 2-3, but he got absolutely dicked by the judges in two of those fights and thus should've been 4-1, and then would never have been cut and never would've retired and we could've still had the smaller British Gegard Mousasi in the UFC. Bastards.

Episode 11 - No drama here, just the two Lightweight semis which is cool. Andre Winner is exposed as a man who sucks his thumb, but he still manages to comfortably beat Cameron Dollar via triangle in the first round. The second semi goes a little longer but it's still a largely one-sided fight as Ross Pearson overcomes Jason Dent to make it an all-UK final. One thing I did notice that was interesting - Hendo says to Cameron that he wants to "make it an all-US final which would really ruin Dana's plans". That suggests that indeed, what I spoke about earlier regarding this season was probably true. Hendo didn't get his wish at any rate.

Episode 12 - Again it's low on drama as they just build to Wilks vs. Lester in the last semi. Interestingly they bury the hatchet in the house prior to the fight, or should I say, Lester admits he was wrong and James is actually a good guy. Damarques still despises James for reasons totally unknown. I mean the dude was probably the fucking quietest guy on Team UK in the house outside of possibly Stapleton. No clue how you'd end up disliking the guy. Fight goes a bit longer but it's still largely a repeat as Lester was outclassed first time around and I mean, two weeks isn't going to close that gap. Fun fight though as Lester is such a tough bastard. Finals are set and the season ends with Bisping saying he respects Henderson but he'll still hurt him at UFC 100. Little did he know!

Season was about what I remembered. Some decent fights and some not-so-good ones, not the best talent pool with a handful of diamonds in the rough, and your standard TUF house drama that could never live up to the previous season. Probably about on par with Season 2; better fights but not-so-good talent. Better than Season 4 but that's it thus far.

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