After last season’s wild and crazy antics on season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter it was anyone’s guess as to the level of immaturity to which season 9 might sink. As it turns out, UFC president Dana White did not have to stop by TUF house even once during filming. No bodily fluids in the sushi this time, though a little water to the face of an unsuspecting DaMarques Johnson that almost brought the show to a boiling point. Fans of the show can see how it plays out during the finale this Saturday at the Pearl at the Palms.
This year, White decided to change up TUF’s format, pitting country against country, when he asked Michael Bisping to coach a team of fighters from the U.K. against Dan Henderson’s American contingent. Henderson and Bisping never really got in each other’s faces, though there was a dispute over training times that painted Bisping in a less than favorable light
The sole American to become an Ultimate Fighter finalist, DaMarques Johnson, got off to a bad start with Team U.K.’s coach, Bisping. The coach and some of his team members overheard Johnson offering to help another Team U.K. member with his jumpshot and took this to be arrogance on the part of Johnson, leading to an ever growing animosity between the two.
A few verbal jabs or misunderstood comments later, things were only worse between the Bisping and Johnson, but the American fighter has quieted in advance of Saturday’s season finale at the Pearl.
“I don’t have enough seniority points to be talking shit to anyone,” said Johnson, Thursday at open practice at The Palms.
Johnson’s refreshing lack of bravado continued, “That’s what I don’t get about the show – I was the happy funny guy, but they kind of portrayed me as a badass.”
He urged fans to remember what TUF is first and foremost, a reality show. “Keep in mind the fighters you see are in the middle of some of the biggest things they’ve every strived for.”
For Johnson and the other finalists, those things are ultimately the six figure UFC contract and title of The Ultimate Fighter, which will be decided during the finale at The Pearl. Johnson’s opponent, James Winks of Team U.K., is five year’s Johnson’s senior but has 12 fewer professional fights under his belt.
“I think the experience will play into it a little, but I haven’t fought in an Ultimate Fighter finale before and neither has he,” Johnson said. He added that he plans to remain true to his original game plan: “Just go in there and hurt feelings.”