We all expected Dave Faulkner to beat Frank Lester, as he was looking really impressive in training and had amazing takedowns and ground game. We all thought he’d definitely be able to take Frank down and deal with him when he got him there. It seemed obvious that Dave would have his way with Frank in that fight.
As it turned out, Frank showed amazing heart and a warrior spirit and managed to outlast Dave. We knew going into the fight that Dave didn’t perform as well in fights as he did in training, but I think it still came as a shock to us to see him give up on the takedowns almost completely. I don’t think he went for even one in the second round.
Dave’s a terrific fighter, but he’s one of those guys that seems to find it difficult transferring his gym form onto the big stage. There are a few guys out there like that and it’s a difficult problem to overcome.
It was a great win for Frank Lester and he did well to come back from his first defeat. To be honest, though, I wasn’t too happy with the fact Lester was allowed back into the competition after his first defeat. Let’s face it, it’s team versus team, country versus country and both sides went into the show on an even playing field. If one of their guys doesn’t want to fight, it’s not our fault. We did our jobs. We all went on the show wanting to fight. Jason Pierce didn’t.
If one of their guys pulls out, we should get the automatic victory. I didn’t agree with them letting Lester back in the competition. It just didn’t seem fair on our boys. Pierce had the opportunity to fight and he chose not to. He wasn’t forced out of the competition.
Even though I didn’t agree with his inclusion, I take my hat off to Lester for the heart he showed against Dave. I was really shocked to see Dave pull out on his stool heading into the third round and was actually pretty angry at the time. None of us expected Dave to go out like that. He was super-fit in training and could do three rounds standing on his head in the gym. I don’t like seeing anyone quit on their stool like that.
We were all disappointed with Dave that day, but I think Michael Bisping and the other coaches would have been the most stunned, as they train with Dave on a daily basis. Nobody could really explain why Dave quit the way he did, but I think it probably tied in with the problems he was having with the mouthpiece. He seemed to have a lot of psychological problems with that and it could well have affected him during the fight.
At the end of the fight Dave mentioned how he had a kid and that he didn’t want to risk himself in the third round if he didn’t feel right. Maybe he just didn’t want to take a chance in those final five minutes. It’s a tough sport and you never know what might happen. Dave didn’t want to go there, whereas Frank did.
Going into the semi-finals, Team UK all felt really confident about our chances. We all felt we had the better team. We had big hopes for the lightweights, Ross Pearson and Andre Winner, and were excited to see how they got on.
Our only fear heading into the semi-finals were that they might pair off Team UK guys against other Team UK guys…