Episode nine of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 9 gets underway and Coach Dan Henderson breaks the news to Team USA that Jason Pierce went limp and won't be fighting Dave Faulkner from Team UK. Dana gets called in to find a suitable replacement and interviews Mark Miller and Frank Lester.
Dana has to decide which fighter has it worse - Miller and his busted up nose or Lester and his AWOL teeth.
Pierce tells the rest of his team that Dana took one look at his leg and wouldn't let him fight. Pierce also says he told Dana that he wanted to fight but they wouldn't let him. Unfortunately no one is buying it.
Miller doesn't get cleared to fight because of his broken nose so Frank Lester lives again.
Hendo pulls Lester aside and gives him extra attention since he's fighting on short notice. There is a general consensus that Lester might be too banged up to pull this one off.
Pierce hopes Lester gets out of the fight with no pain or injuries. What a guy.
"Hollywood" informs Bisping that Team USA is switching schedules from morning to afternoon training -- which is apparently his right. Bisping smiles and says no. He leaves and Henderson calls him a little bitch.
Bisping returns with his entire team to have a West Side Story type of confrontation. Damarques prefers a "Gangs of New York" reference. He also gets a little mouthy with "The Count" during the fight announcement and gets squirted in the face with some water. He returns fire with a hat flip and Bisping calls Johnson a racist.
They have to be separated and Johnson takes time to cool off before we finally get the announcement of Dave Faulkner vs. Frank Lester.
Team UK gets overruled on the gym training times and now has to wake up bright and early to train. Bisping thinks that a confident Faulkner will blow Lester away. They get a hypnotist (or hypnotherapist if you will) to come in and help him control his gag reflex.
Tangina reprograms him using a robotic voice and scented candles from the clearance rack at Target. Lester could use some reprogramming himself as he doubts himself in his bedroom the night before the fight.
As both fighters prepare, Hendo tells Lester to relax, no worries, while Bisping tells Faulkner to go right through his opponent's head. Interesting dichotomy between the two.
Welterweight elimination fight #4: Dave Faulkner (2-1) vs. Frank Lester (3-2)
Round 1: They dance for a while. Faulkner with a low kick. Then another. Lester returns the favor. "Hands tight!" screams Bisping -- about twenty times in the first minute. Hendo answers with a monotone "jabs...jabs...jabs..." Faulkner rushes and they go to the cage. They work for position and Faulkner changes levels and gets nothing. They break away. Faulkner low kicks. They exchange Thai clinches and Lester eats a huge left before getting taken down. He scrambles to his feet and they break away again. Faulkner clips him but is sucking wind. Faulkner lands a left and follows up with a knee. Faulkner's hands are low and Lester tags him. They go back to the cage and hug until time expires. This one goes to Faulkner.
Round 2: Faulkner is gassed. Mouthpiece pulls the eject button. Action restarts and Lester tags him. And again. They clinch and go to the cage. Knee by Lester. Faulkner backs up and gets blasted in the jaw. Lester smells blood and tees off. Lester lands knees from a long-distance clinch. Faulkner on the run. Lester attacking confidently. They go to the cage and tie up. Good knee to the body by Faulkner who follows up with a huge punch to the jaw. Phantom ball shot sends Faulkner running. Straight left lands for Lester. Faulkner pushes him to the cage. Lester bleeding. They work for position against the cage until time expires. Round 2 goes to Lester. Plan for a third.
Round 3: Very unnerving shot of TapouT sitting ringside -- with Mask. Faulkner quits on his stool. Wanted no part of a third round. Hats off to Lester for his nine lives.
Team USA gets a huge boost in morale while a baffled Team UK tries to figure out what went wrong. A furious Bisping busts through the door to his dressing room. Faulkner seems very happy-go-lucky, talking about enjoying the fight while the rest of his team is sitting there enraged.
In the USA locker room Lester -- who is starting to look like Coach Henderson -- relishes his victory and third chance at TUFdom.
Stay tuned next week as Richie unloads on Pierce for quitting, Dana picks the semifinal matches (and the coaches don't seem to like it) and two welterweights throwdown in perhaps the season's best fight.
See you in seven!