by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
If anybody viewed the British fighters as underdogs going into the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter, James Wilks and Ross Pearson made a statement for the United Kingdom on Saturday night, as they became the latest winners in the Ultimate Fighter lineage.
DaMarques Johnson may not like James Wilks, but he absolutely respects him following Saturday night’s Ultimate Fighter Finale, as the British born fighter put on a clinic resulting in a rear naked choke submission to win the welterweight final in Las Vegas.
Wilks came out strong early in the fight tagging Johnson with some strong stand-up, including a series of big knee strikes from the Muay Thai clinch that immediately put the Utah based fighter on the defensive.
The fight soon hit the mat and Wilks showed his superior jiu-jitsu, as he immediately started going for submission after submission, starting with a strong heel hook that looked deep, but Johnson battled out.
Battling from his back, Wilks then started another onslaught as he trapped Johnson’s head and arm in a triangle choke, transitioning to an omo plata, while punishing his opponent with punches and elbows to keep the pressure on.
Wilks took the opportunity with Johnson turtled up to take the back and start working for the fight ending rear naked choke.
“I was trying to put my right hand around his neck and he was defending with the chin down. I was able to slip my left hand through, trap that arm, and I was able to finish,” Wilks said about the submission.
Now the Ultimate Fighter season nine welterweight champion, Wilks made an impressive showing for himself, as he steps into possibly the deepest weight class in the organization.
“This is the best moment of my life for sure,” Wilks commented. “I really appreciate the opportunity the UFC, Dana White, and Lorenzo Fertitta (have) given me.”
It was clear early on during the finale between the two British lightweights that Pearson and Winner knew each other very well, as they spent a majority of the fight battling in the clinch, trying to get the better of each other against the cage.
Back and forth action saw Pearson pushing Winner against the cage, working for knees and takedowns, and then the reversal from his opponent, with Winner hitting punches and knees of his own.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan noted during the bout the similarity in this fight to the battle between Ultimate Fighter season four finalists Matt Serra and Chris Lytle, when the two fighters knew each other so well that it negated any major action in the bout.
An extremely close fight through two rounds saw Pearson come out and try to gun for Winner a little bit more in the final five minutes, but again they always ended back in the clinch. A few exchanges lit some fireworks throughout the third round, but again mutual respect ruled the day and the fight went to the judges’ scorecards.
After a hard fought battle between the two Brits, the judges gave the nod to Ross Pearson, who used his strength and aggressiveness to outwork his fellow countryman, and get the title of Ultimate Fighter winner.
“Andre, he’s one tough fighter. I trained with him. I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy fight. I trained me butt off for this fight,” Pearson stated about his opponent following the win.
Obviously working together for several weeks on the show, Pearson knew Winner very well, but he put friendship aside for the chance to become the champion of season nine of the Ultimate Fighter.
“To me it was easy,” Pearson said about fighting Winner. “You could have put anyone in front of me and I would have trained for that person correctly, and I would have fought them. Stepping in here it could have been anyone.”
Pearson and Wilks will now proudly represent the United Kingdom, as both move into the UFC as the newest Ultimate Fighter champions.