The ninth season of "The Ultimate Fighter" opens with a quick reminder that only one of 13 past "TUF" winners hasn't been an American fighter - "TUF 3" champion and Team U.K. coach Michael Bisping.
From there we learn that this year's first episode will be all about Brit on Brit crime, as Team U.K. looks to pair its 16 fighters down to an elite eight.
The action starts quickly at the U.K.'s famed Wolfslair Academy.
After UFC President Dana White offers the 16 potential "TUF" winners a brief explanation of the schedule - and a mandatory pep talk to explain the levity of the situation - we get the the outspoken leader's first F-bomb of the season.
"Welcome to 'The Ultimate Fighter' mother[expletive]," White says.
With filming for "The Ultimate Fighter: U.S. vs. U.K." beginning before the UFC 93 showdown between potential U.S. coaches Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson, both fighters made their way to the U.K. to evaluate the talent.
Gary Kelly vs. Andre Winner
The first accent-heavy Brit to speak is Wolfslair lightweight Gary Kelly, and the presence of subtitles for a man speaking the same language being written brings immediate irony. Kelly professes seeing the success of his teammate Bisping is a daily motivator.
Kelly is set to face Andre Winner in the season's first preliminary elimination bout. Winner knows he's got a bold last name to to fill.
Referee Dan Miragliotta gets the action started, and the two start with a series of crisp strikes. Kelly closes the distance as Bisping yells for him to remain standing.
The two trade shots in the clinch, and Winner is warned by Bisping to "watch the balls" after a knee up the middle lands just to the left of a sensitive area. Winner maintains the clinch and holds Kelly against the cage.
The action stalls briefly, but after a missed elbow shot over the top by Kelly, Winner pulls his opponent's head down in a Thai plum and delivers a brutal knee to the head. A few punches follow, but Kelly is motionless on the canvas at 1:47 of the first round.
Kelly awakes shortly after, obviously disoriented and unsure of what ended the fight. Winner is giddy at earning the first-round knockout, especially by "knocking someone out in their own backyard."
James Bryan vs. Jeff Lawson
After a brief scene in which Henderson correctly predicts the forthcoming use of subtitles, the next two fighters make their way to the cage - unassuming lightweight Jeff Lawson and an excitable James Bryan.
Lawson said he intends to use his extensive experience to gain an advantage, while Bryan believes his opponent is nearing the end of his time in the sport, leaving himself as the natural favorite.
Referee Marc Goddard starts the bout, and Lawson immediately hip tosses Bryan to the floor. Lawson moves with ease around and through his opponent's guard and secures an oddly modified arm bar. Lawson sticks with the move, rolling into a position with a bit more leverage.
Lawson arches his back, and Bryan taps to the move at 1:45 of the opening round.
Lawson is pleased the win, but offers a courteous post-fight response.
"He's a nice lad," Lawson says. "It was an easy fight, at the end of the day, for me. I'd hate to feel the way [Bryan] probably feels now."
Che Mills vs. James Wilks
The first welterweight eliminator is next, and Che Mills and James Wilks make their way to the octagon.
Mills says he enjoys the physical challenge of fighting, but curiously describes that "physical challenge" as one mind against another mind. Wilks admits he has been living in the U.S. for the past eight years, but came back to represent team U.K. because of his British heritage.
Goddard is again in charge of the in-cage action, and Wilks presses forward quickly behind a series of strikes. Mills answers with a few stiff shots of his own before shoving Wilks to the canvas.
Wilks tries for a heel hook from the bottom, and Mills falls back to attempt a leg lock of his own. Mills is late in his response, and the pain from Wilks' move forces him to tap just 30 seconds into the match.
White and Bisping offer Wilks their congratulations, and the U.K. coach admits to being a bit shocked, citing Mills as an early favorite on paper.
Dan James vs. Martin Stapleton
The lightweights are back up next, and Martin Stapleton - with his truly awe-inspiring cauliflowered ears - meets Welsh fighter Dan James.
Goddard again starts the action, and the two trade on the feet to start. Stapleton shoots in successfully 20 seconds into the round, and James looks to stall the action from underneath. James is warned twice for holding his opponent's glove, and when he releases a scramble ensues.
Stapleton moves to the back, but ends up in mount as James looks to roll away. The position switches back to Stapleton on the back, and James is quickly flattened out. Stapleton sneaks his right hand under James' chin, and the rear-naked choke stops the bout 1:38 into the first round.
Following the bout, Stapleton admits he was a bit on edge.
"That was by far the biggest fight of my life," Stapleton says. "My nerves were kicking around a bit more than usual."
Ross Pearson vs. A.J. Wenn
Lightweights A.J. Wenn and Ross Pearson are next. Wenn says he's fighting for a chance to break free of his home turf.
"I'm fed up with being in the U.K. constantly," Wenn says. "So I'm looking for that ticket over to (Las Vegas)."
Pearson, meanwhile, says he's out to fulfill a dream - at any cost.
"You could have put a heavyweight in there," Pearson says. "You could have but Bisping in there, and I would have had a go. I'm ready to go, man."
Pearson quickly closes the distance in moving to a clinch position. Pearson hits an impressively violent sweep, but Wenn pops right back to his feet. Wenn lands a few knees to the body, but Pearson scores with a powerful slam.
Wenn again refuses to stay on the ground, and the fight stays in the standing clinch. Pearson lands a few blows of his own, then dumps Wenn again to the floor. The slippery combatant again refuses to stay on the mat and stands with just over a minute remaining.
The two jockey for superiority in close range, and the stalemate continues as time winds down. Pearson scores with two knees that wobble Wenn as the bell sounds, but the woozy fighter is allowed to return to his corner.
White and Bisping express some concern that Wenn will be unable to continue as he tries to regain composure in between rounds. Wenn does answer the second horn, but Pearson knows his opponent is ripe for the taking.
A brutal left-right combo drops Wenn, and Pearson pounces. A series of 10 more blows follow, most of which find their mark, and Miragliotta steps in to halt the bout at 0:21 of the second frame.
Bisping and White both offer their approval to Pearson, who admits he hasn't quite yet figured out what to think.
"I'm pumped, man," Pearson says. "I'm excited, nervous. I've got all this adrenaline running through my body. I'm a bit confused.
"I'm just so excited and honored to be here."
White again says he's impressed with the performance, calling Pearson "a mean little [expletive]."
Welterweight Tommy Maguire steps in next, admitting he fights because "I can't sing and I can't act - and it beats work."
The red-headed Maguire also admits he's looking forward to "showing the Americans how we do it - how we roll."
His opponent, Nick Osipczak (who immediately claims the season eight role of Krzysztof Soszynski as "most-frustrating name for MMA journalists to try and remember how to spell"), has an interesting breakdown of his preliminary round bout.
"I know he's a ginger," Osipczak says. "I've never fought a ginger person before, so I'm looking forward to that."
Osipczak uses his reach advantage to earn an early series of strikes, but Maguire closes the distance and dumps his opponent to the floor. Maguire lands a few strikes from the top, but loses the position in a careless attempt to move to mount, allowing Osipczak to get back to his feet.
Maguire tries a standing guillotine, but lacks the leverage to execute the choke. Maguire responds by dropping to guard, but Osipczak pops his head out of the hold.
Maguire tries an arm bar briefly, but Osipczak resists and moves back to his feet.
The two trade briefly, but Maguire's fatigue is evident. Osipczak lands a series of straight punches, followed by a few stunning knees. Maguire backs up to the cage in pure survival mode, and Osipczak senses the end. Another flurry of punches is followed by a knee that immediately drops Maguire, forcing Miragliotta to step in at 4:08 of the opening round.
The strikes are effective, but White and the coaches don't believe the blows had much strength behind them.
Dean Amasinger vs. Alex Reid
Alex "The Reidernater" Reid steps in next to face Dean Amasinger.
Bearing an odd resemblance to a broken-down version of Frank Shamrock, Reid immediately waxes poetic.
"I don't need to get aggressive, I don't need to get angry," Reid says. "Just look in his eyes. See in his soul. See in his soul."
Amasinger, confident in his chances, simple offers his best "Mr. T" impression in his pre-fight package.
"I pity the fool," Amasinger says with a smile.
The in-cage behavior of the pair is apparently not nearly as entertaining as the pre-fight monologues, and we are treated to a "highlight reel" version of the bout.
Missed triangle chokes by Reid, coupled with a lack of finishing ability by Amasinger lead to a stalemate. One of the choke attempts from Reid does cause an audible gasp for air by Amasinger, but the A-Team-influenced fighter escapes the hold.
"The Reidernater" is warned by Goddard to discontinue the trash talking he offers while laying on his back eating punches, and Bisping suggests Reid's time might be better spent working back to his feet.
The opening two rounds are not enough to determine a "winner," or even a "lesser-loser," and the pair needs a sudden victory round to settle their fight.
The final round is also given the video-montage treatment, and Amasinger's heavy hands and successful takedown are deemed enough for him to earn a ticket to the U.S.
Amasinger, admittedly unhappy with his performance, collapses in exhaustion at the end of the bout.
James Bateman vs. David Faulkner
Welterweights James Bateman and David Faulkner, the evening's second Brit worthy of his own subtitles, meet in the night's final elimination affair.
Bisping, as a teammate of Faulkner, offers the scoop to White.
"This guy is all about the heel hooks and the knee bars," Bisping says. "I train with him everyday.
"The thing with Dave, he's got all the skills. He's a great wrestler, great stand-up, striking, explosive, cardio, everything. But mentally, he's weak."
Miragliotta starts the contest, and Faulkner immediately works to move to the floor. Bateman resists initially, and Faulkner settles for the clinch.
Bateman throws knees and flying knees in the clinch, but Faulkner avoids any serious damage. A big slam follows, and Faulkner stands over his downed opponent.
Bateman tries to roll away, and Faulkner looks for a knee bar. The move isn't there, but Faulkner switches to a heel hook. The hold is quickly torqued, and Batemen taps while simultaneously yelling for the stoppage. It comes at 1:47 of the opening frame.
Bisping expresses his excitement for his teammate, while White says he's impressed by the team the U.K. will be bringing to Las Vegas.
"I was very impressed with the U.K. fighters," White said. "One of the things that I really liked about these kids watching them fight to get into Team U.K., these guys all have the killer instinct. You can tell that these guys are fired up.
"America better be ready because these Brits are coming over to put the stamp on 'em."
White offers a final pep talk, and Bisping distributes the team's far-better-than-eight-previous-seasons-of-tank-tops black and blue Team U.K. jerseys.
"I think, to be honest, we're going to blow the U.S. team away," Bisping says.
Next week's preview shows a struggling U.S. team, though if Phillipe Nover is any indication, early feinting doesn't necessarily mean a lack of success in "The Ultimate Fighter."
Back in Las Vegas, weight-cutting challenges and treadmill difficulties all look to play a role in determining the eight representatives of the U.S. squad.
TEAM U.K. WELTERWEIGHT ELIMINATION BOUTS
* James Wilks def. Che Mills via submission (heel hook) - Round 1, 0:30
* Nick Osipczak def. Tommy Maguire via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 4:08
* Dean Amasinger def. Alex Reid via decision in sudden victory round
* David Faulkner def. James Bateman via submission (heel hook) - Round 1, 1:47
TEAM U.K. LIGHTWEIGHT ELIMINATION BOUTS
* Andre Winner def. Gary Kelly via knockout (knee) - Round 1, 1:47
* Jeff Lawson def. James Bryan via submission (arm bar) - Round 1, 1:45
* Martin Stapleton def. Dan James via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 1:38
* Ross Pearson def. A.J. Wenn via TKO (punches) - Round 2, 0:21