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UFC TUF 22: McGregor vs. Faber episode 9 recap: Watermelon drops of doom

TUF Urijah Faber vs. Conor McGregor

The Notorious Quote of the Week: "As a warm up for the Aldo fight, I'd kill him! But they wouldn't do it. They wouldn't sacrifice your old ass for a fight."

Last week, Team McGregor took a 5-3 lead. The final first round fight tonight is Abner Lloveras from Team McGregor and Jason Gonzalez from Team Faber. Here we go!

McGregor praises his team for being mentally strong. He notes that nobody has crumbled, or had an emotional breakdown, or begged to go home. "It's a good experience to be here doing this show. We're having a good time." Abner Lloveras says (and I quote) "My game plan is to work on my well rounded." McGregor says that he's so experienced he doesn't need to give Lloveras much advice. Lloveras: "You really need to trust in yourself and work out a lot in the gym to be a better fighter."

The focus shifts to Team Faber. Urijah: "Jason is 90% standup so Abner's game plan will be to take this fight down and get a submission." TJ Dillashaw: "Gonzalez picks up on it really quick. He's got a good style and he stays striking long." Gonzalez: "I'm just coming in there well prepared for whatever comes at me."

It's time for the annual COACHES CHALLENGE. They drive out to a tent in the middle of the desert, while Dana White gets to cruise in via helicopter. The helicopter is actually key though - they have to fly over the top of a giant bullseye and drop five watermelons. The coach with the most points at the end wins $10,000 and $1,500 for each member of their team. Confidence is high for "Mystic Mac" as we go to break.

Faber gets 25. McGregor gets 25. Faber gets 10. McGregor gets 10. Faber gets 50. McGregor gets 10. Faber gets 0. McGregor gets 25. Faber hits a bullseye on his very last shot for 100 to take 185-70 lead. McGregor can't win now even if he hits the bullseye - it's all over. McGregor: "F--k the challenge. I feel sick as a dog over that. I don't like losing. Congratulations to that little buffet twerp."

Gonzalez talks about his family being from Nicaragua and living through the civil war there. Lloveras talks about his wife and baby daughter. "I have them on my mind always and I will for sure fight harder to give them a good life - hopefully."

Lloveras is my Fighter to Watch for this episode, and not just because he's in the fight. He's an Olympic level boxer, a black belt in muay thai, and a brown belt in jiu-jitsu. He's the oldest guy on the show but at 19-7-1 he's also among the most experienced. Gonzalez is also a Fighter to Watch, because he's young and strong and anybody praised by Dillashaw for his striking is doing something right.

No weigh-ins today - we're going straight to the fight. Lloveras: "P--ies don't come here to fight. We're big boys and we need to show that."

Lightweight: Abner Lloveras (Europe) vs. Jason Gonzalez (USA)

Lloveras is in the gray trunks and Gonzalez the blue. Lloveras is as predicted looking for takedowns and Gonzalez does a good job of stuffing the attempts, just missing with a high kick on the break that could have ended the fight. He pours it on as Lloveras backs away and lands a big knee to the body. He hits another jumping knee and Lloveras clinches up for a leg trip - he gets it at 2:55 and is quickly in full mount. He loses it and gets it back at 3:45. Big elbows and big rights from on top. Lloveras did more in those last two minutes than Gonzalez did the first three so I'd give him the round.

If this is going three then Gonzalez is going to win this round, but for the first minute he's getting beaten to the punch and is in danger of being single legged again. Lloveras gets his takedown at 1:10 but Gonzalez gets right back up and avoids a back mount. Lloveras gets a takedown again at 1:40 and another full mount. It's not going well for Gonzalez. Gonzalez manages to push off the fence and roll to escape but Lloveras gets the mount again at 2:30. Gonzalez tries again to push off and gets up at 3:15. Lloveras goes right for a single leg but has to reset before he can get it at 3:42. That's pretty much a wrap as Gonzalez is exhausted from fighting to get up and breathing hard. He pushes off at 4:20 and stands but is taken down with ease five seconds later. The judges should make this unanimous.

20-18 X3 for Abner Lloveras. Not shocking at all. Team McGregor finishes the first round of fights with a 6-3 lead.

The gimmick moment of the show has arrived as one winner has to be cut. It would be more fair to cut one of McGregor's guys since he has more men in the hunt, but it's Dana White's call in the end as to who didn't "perform." He sits down with Faber and McGregor. Mystic Mac immediately calls for Gruetzemacher to be cut, and defends Svensson by saying it may have been boring but at least Svensson got a submission.

White agrees. He says Lloveras has terrible ground and pound skills, but he got the submission and the win; meanwhile Gruetzemacher had points where he could have gone for broke and didn't so he blew it. Now McGregor has to match up his own guys against each other, but before he can do that he and Faber get into a pissing war about who makes more money and who would win if the two of them got in a fight - which is where this week's Notorious Quote of the Week comes from.

Time for the announcement of the quarterfinals. Dana White informs Gruetzemacher that he's cut, but tells him to stay ready in case anybody on either team gets injured - if they do he's back in. The first fight is Artem Lobov vs. Martin Svensson. There's little doubt in my mind Svensson wins that. The second fight is Saul Rogers vs. Ryan Hall. That's more of a coin flip. The third fight is Marcin Wrzosek vs. David Teymur. I've got "The Polish Zombie" in that one. Last but not least it's Julian Erosa vs. Abner Lloveras, and I heavily favor the latter in that bout. Ryan Hall is now the best hope of Team Faber winning at the end and he's no better than a coin flip.

We move on from this week to see if "Mystic Mac" can run the table and have an all Team McGregor finals. Join us next week!