We were really buzzing going into Dre’s (Winner) fight with Santino (DeFranco). The first fight had gone well, the training was going well and we were all bonding brilliantly in the house. Everything was looking
great for the team. If anything, we were perhaps too confident at this point. We could see the cracks emerging in the American team and we all thought we’d just go out there and beat every single one of them.
I was confident we’d make it 2-0 with Andre. I’ve trained with him in the past and I know how good and how well-rounded he is. Santino had a really tough fight in the elimination process, too, where he pretty much
got battered for five minutes before pulling off a miraculous knee to win.
The coaches would ask us who wanted to fight and who we wanted to fight. They picked Dre because he was doing well in training and seemed to be straining at the leash. He was just peaking at the right time and was
ready to go.
We knew Santino was dangerous on the ground, so the plan was to basically beat him on his feet and keep the fight standing. Dre is good enough to strike with anyone and we knew that he’d have Santino’s number
so long as he kept the fight standing.
You could see during the fight that Santino realized he couldn’t do anything with Dre while standing. His face dropped as he realized Dre could pretty much boss him on their feet. He was just getting picked off
and that was all going to plan.
The only thing I didn’t envisage happening was Dre finishing the fight so quickly when Santino decided to pull guard. It was just a short right hand that did the trick. It was a perfect win for Dre. He didn’t put a foot wrong.
We were all thinking we’d get eight consecutive wins at this point. Confidence was really high and we were just really enjoying the experience. I think the Americans realized that they had to start taking the competition more seriously or they’d just be whitewashed out of it.
They saw how things were going and that’s why they put DaMarques (Johnson) forward for their next fight pick. They needed a win or else we were just going to run away with it.
I was a bit concerned by the match-up between DaMarques and Dean (Amasinger). I have a similar build to DaMarques and I know how much easier it is to pull off a triangle choke with my dimensions. Dean obviously had trouble with triangles in his previous fight, so there were clear danger signs when the fight was made. DaMarques is very good with triangles, and Dean was very good at getting into them during his
Dean’s forte is his strength and power, and our hope was that Dean would just simply out-muscle DaMarques and grind him down.
I could tell on the day that Dean wasn’t right on the day of the fight, though. He seemed a bit nervous and just wasn’t his usual bubbly self. Part of that was due to Mike (Bisping) not being there, but Dean just
didn’t seem in the right frame of mind.
During the fight itself, Dean actually started well. He threw a couple of leg-kicks and seemed to be doing alright on his feet. He didn’t stick to his game plan, though, and that was to stay on his feet and keep it
Dean got the takedown off the single leg and that proved to be his undoing. I think Dean was actually hurting DaMarques on his feet, but his instincts told him to shoot for the takedown and that was the beginning of the end.
The defeat was hard to take for all of us. We’d all grown very close at this stage and nobody wanted to see Dean lose like that. Realistically, though, it was only a matter of time before someone left. There was no
way we were going to just walk it 8-0.
In hindsight, the defeat probably helped to actually put us all back on track. It made us re-focus a little bit and train even harder.
After we all watched Dean lose, it was a natural fighting instinct to want revenge. We all wanted to get in there and take it out on the Americans. The reaction to Dean’s loss was pure anger on our part. We
all wanted a piece of them.