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Sixteen men from across the Americas travel to Las Vegas with one dream, one goal – to become The Ultimate Fighter.

Determination. Discipline. Excellence.

Recaps by Joe Van Ginkel, GSNN


FACT FILE:

Host:
Willa Ford
Coaches: Randy "The Natural" Couture and Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell
Packager: Zuffa, LLC; Spike TV
Airs: Mondays at 11:05pm ET on Spike TV


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Episode 9 - March 14

It's Week Nine on The Ultimate Fighter, and it's time for the ol' "Game Show Man," Joe Van Ginkel, to break it down for ya.  When we last left our warriors of the Octagon, Josh Rafferty got his booty handed to him in a sack by his former teammate Diego Sanchez.   Can Team Couture come back from yet another loss?  Let's find out. 

As always, we open with the aftermath of last week's fight.  Confessionals of the other fighters are intercut with footage of the fight.  It's clear what happened: Rafferty had no real chance of winning, and Sanchez punished Rafferty for challenging him. 

As before, Team Liddell now once again outnumbers Team Liddell in middleweights, and Chuck Liddell must choose one to go to Team Couture.  He chooses Kenny Florian, who says goodbye to his team, and goes to Team Couture.  Unlike Rafferty, Florian is far more appreciative with the chance to train with Randy Couture.  Couture welcomes Florian to the team. 

Back at the house, the teams decompress.  The middleweights all gather in the bedroom of the house, and chew the fat. Sanchez decides to drink a big helping of wheat grass, and nearly gags on it, giving the others (and Sanchez himself as well, who jokes: "That IS better than a shot of whiskey!") a giant laugh.  Later, the whole house engages in a huge poker chip fight.  Clearly the mood in the house is steadily improving as the weeks go by.

The next morning, Kenny Florian joins his first Team Couture training session.  Turns out he wanted to be on Team Couture in order to work on his ground game.  As he works, Florian grows closer to Chris Leben, and manages to see the good man underneath the outrageous exterior we've seen in early episodes. 

Back at the house, light heavyweight Forest Griffin has shaved his head in anticipation for this week's light heavyweight challenge.  Griffin has been wanting to fight the whole time, and this week he may get his wish. 

Later, the fighters assemble in the living room for an event they've been waiting for…they get to watch a UFC pay-per-view (specifically UFC 50: "The War of '04") alongside their coaches.  A previously concealed television appears out of the ground in the living room, and the gang gathers around it.  They cheer, hoot and holler as the fights progress. Koscheck and Leben even call in to the post game show hosted by UFC president Dana White to comment on the evening's bouts. 

Team Challenge
The next day is the light heavyweight team challenge, where the fighters must run up and down a set of parking garage stairs to collect 30 cases of bottled water and stack them up first in order to prevent their opponents from dunking their coaches, who are seated in a carnival dunk tank.

The race is very close.  Team Couture's fighters and Griffin take the cases from the lowest flights, but Sam Hogar decides to take the cases on the highest flights.  The race is neck and neck but Team Liddell manages to win this one by one case, and Sam Hogar pushes Randy Couture's dunk button, sending the UFC light heavyweight champion into the drink (and making Griffin a happy man).  Once again, Team Liddell has won and has control of the elimination bout.

Back in the gym, Team Liddell discusses who will fight.  Hogar thinks that it was his idea that won the challenge and so he should pick his opponent, but the other, not liking him to start with, decide otherwise.  Griffin will fight.

The teams return to the house, and Liddell, standing in for White who usually presides over the matchmaking ceremony, hands to honor over to Griffin, who promptly picks Alex Schoenauer, citing him as the "weakest link." (Insert your own George Gray or Anne Robinson jokes here, friends.) 

That night, Bonnar discovers that some of his nutritional supplements are missing.  Fearing they may have been stolen, the others help him look through other people's bags to try and find it.  Eventually, they get to Sam Hogar's things, and while they don't find Bonnar's stuff, they DO find a lot of extra UFC apparel; indeed, much more of UFC stuff than the others were issued.  The fighters realize that a lot of their own UFC apparel is missing… naturally they decide that Hogar has stolen it. (So would I.) 

Hogar claims that he got extra stuff from the UFC training center, but everyone at the gym who had access to the stuff says otherwise (and many of them are very angry that Hogar should infer that they said he could do take anything more than what he was given). 

It's official: the entire house now despises Sam Hogar…and with good reason.  He is a liar, a cheater and a backstabber.  Or at least he is perceived to be.  Hogar is forced to give up the extra stuff he's taken to the other fighters, who quickly reclaim their belongings.  Some are not quite satisfied, as an apology does not come with their stuff. 

Meanwhile, back at the gym, Alex Schoenauer prepares for his fight with Forest Griffin.  He is intent on proving Griffin's claim that he is the weakest link to be wrong.  In practice, he works hard to be ready for Griffin's assault, and it looks like he may survive. 

The next day is the weigh-in.  Griffin goes first and weighs in at 205 pounds - exactly the light heavyweight limit.  Schoenauer is next and tips the scales at 205 as well.  The fight is on. 

Then it's fight day.  Griffin and Schoenauer arrive at the gym, and the final preparations are made: wrapping of hands, application of Vaseline, gloving up and the like.  At the appointed time, the two men walk to the ring for their fight.  White, back from the pay-per-view, explains the rules as always.  Referee Herb Dean asks the two men if they're ready.  They signal they are, and the war is on. 

Elimination Bout #6: Light Heavyweights - Forrest Griffin vs. Alex Schoenauer

Unlike last week, this one is a real slugfest.  The two men traded strikes almost continuously.  Eventually, at 2:20, Griffin takes Schoenauer down, and "ground and pounds" Schoenauer into a tap out.  Griffin has won the battle, but Schoenauer may have won the war: Schoenauer's punishing strikes have opened up a gigantic gash on Griffin's eyebrow, and blood pours from the wound even as Griffin pounds on Schoenauer from the top position.  The fight doctor looks at the cut and worries that Griffin may not be able to continue in the contest. 

Lucky for Griffin he won this week.

So Alex Schoenauer has made Forrest Griffin pay for the duke this week.  Will Griffin's cut heal in time for him to fight again?  Or will he be forced to drop out?  The answer next week.  For GSNN, this is the "Game Show Man" Joe Van Ginkel, saying godspeed and spread the love.

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