Written by Danny Burnham and Joe Rizzo
Frank Lester was born on an Army base in Germany, served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Army, and now trains in Temecula, California.
This Saturday, however, he’ll be in Las Vegas as part of the card at the UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter” finale. Lester will compete against Britain’s Nick Osipczak, sources close to both camps have confirmed.
Lester climbed the MMA ladder to a 3-2 record before trying out for TUF’s ninth season. He made it to the show, but not as one of the 16 original fighters picked.
“I went to the TUF tryouts and ended up as an alternate,” said Lester. “Somebody didn’t make weight and I was in.”
Lester, who trains with Team Quest after being invited by Dan Henderson at season’s end, usually fights at middleweight, but won a fight against Kiel Reid to earn a welterweight spot on the United States roster.
While on the show, Lester lost a bout with James Wilkes. Not only did it eliminate him from the competition, but it also caused several injuries.
“My nose was broken, and I had stitches over my eye,” Lester explained. “I had four teeth knocked out, but only one of them was real, anyway.”
After another fighter was removed from the show, Lester was again invited back and became the only competitor ever to be brought back and win a fight, beating David Faulkner.
Faulkner was favored by most to win the fight, which was a few days after Lester’s previous fight.
“I was honestly pretty scared before the fight,” Lester said. “It hurt so bad in training, but once I got in there and got hit, I was fine.”
After two rounds, the judges’ scorecards had the fight knotted up and one round a piece, which brought them to a third or “sudden victory” round.
Faulkner declined to answer the bell, giving Lester the unlikely victory.
“It was awesome,” Lester admitted. “I thought he was gassed, but I didn’t know how bad. I was just glad it was over.”
A desire to compete brought Lester to MMA. A high school athlete who played football and other sports, he watched the UFC and got hooked. After he got out of the Army, a friend that owned a gym invited him to begin training.
Following the matchup with Osipczak, Lester will hit the ground running with Henderson and the Temecula crew.
“I’ve got a lot of things to work on,” he said. “I’m going to get back to training, and see where it goes from there.”