Well this was the last week on this season of The Ultimate Fighter. It featured the final welterweight semi-final to find out who the last finalist is to move on to the finale this Saturday. All in all it was a solid end to a solid season.
The episode starts off with Dan Henderson going over to the house for one last meal with the boys. Everything goes off without a hitch. Though there is some light hearted ribbing of Dan's fairly mockable cauliflower ears - not as subtle as BJ Penn but not alien looking like James Thompson.
We move on to the training sessions where Henderson implores Frank Lester to not brawl with James Wilks and to throw straighter punches. Frank looks much more relaxed than their last time fighting each other.
In fact it's so noticeable that the U.K. team warns Wilks not to underestimate Lester. They all tell Wilks he has an even better puncher's chance than before due to his new found state of mind.
We even see Wilks and Lester hanging out cutting weight and Lester got all philosophical on Wilks. The producers also decided to show a nice moment between the two where they signed each other's jerseys and talked about Lester's daughter. I found this to be odd but it was still nice to see that just because you fight each other doesn't mean you have to hate the other guy.
After that we move on to the U.K. team's final dinner where they brought their coaches over. There was a particularly great moment where Wilks tricks Bisping into trying to slap a non existent coin off his forehead in what was a pretty funny party trick.
After that the dinner degenerated into a food fight and eventually Andre Winner getting thrown in the pool with a bag of flour dumped on his face. Yes it was juvenile but I still laughed my ass off.
Finally we get to fight day. Lester fares slightly better on this go round but ultimately it wasn't enough. Lester couldn't get off. Wilks was the aggressor the majority of the time and showed much better technical striking skills.
Lester would've been smart to listen to his coaches and use his jab to set up his power punches but instead he loaded up which let Wilks pick him apart. Ultimately the knees did in Lester again. He was exhausted in the third round and once Wilks started landing the knees the fight was over.
Wilks moves on to face Damarques Johnson for the welterweight crown. These two have a nice little rivalry going and I'm pretty excited to see them meet in the cage. It's a pretty one sided rivalry since Wilks had nothing to say about Johnson but it's good to have a little spice in the finale since the lightweight final is between two Brits.
After the fight Lester was pretty down but Henderson seemed proud of (almost) all of his fighters (ahem, Jason Pierce, ahem). Bisping was even more proud considering there were low expectations for his crew.
There was some buzz ginned up between Henderson and Bisping for their fight at UFC 100. Henderson straight up called Bisping a d-bag and Bisping feels disrespected because he thinks Henderson doesn't take him seriously. I really don't think these guys dislike each other all that much. I think it's just talk due to the nature of the show and the fact that they're fighting each other.
All in all I thought this season was a success. It didn't carry with it any of the garbage from last season where things at the house got out of control. There was some personal drama, some good fights, and some good laughs to boot.
Obviously I'm pretty disappointed the US didn't produce a better result but that's the breaks. The country v. country format worked for me but I don't want to see it back too soon. I'm happy the next season will focus on one weight class with no elimination fights - kicking it old school!
As always I end with my quote of the week. This week Damarques has the final honors as he tries to describe the level of hatred he carries for his opponent in the finale, James Wilks: “That dude, I don’t know what it is, his mannerisms, his f'ing face just tugs on my life cord and makes me want to hurt somebody.” Indeed Mr. Johnson... indeed.
Well that's it for this season everyone. I hope you enjoy the finale Saturday and if you want to read my preview or recap of the events please check them out at InsideFights along with my weekly news recap No News Barred every Weds. Also, make sure you keep it locked for my monthly fighter rankings coming soon. Until next season,
Soccer kicks and head stomps...
John Shubert is staff writer for InsideFights