By Steve Juon, WrestlingObserver.com
It's a whole new season and Conor McGregor is the reason, as he and Urijah Faber go toe to toe as coaching foes on The Ultimate Fighter. They won't duke it out after the season is done, but there's still pride on the line, not to mention Conor's reputation as the newest badass on the block.
See what happens on episode one at 10 PM ET, 9 Central (7 PT) and join us each episode for "The Notorious Quote of the Week" as Conor puts his mouth where UFC's money is! For example...
The Notorious Quote of the Week from McGregor to Faber: "You should walk around with a ring card and shake that chin." WINNER~!
A slew of American and European fighters arrive at the gym in Las Vegas to open the show, all bragging about their credentials and which team will win, which is all just a build up to the arrival of the coaches. Dana White says it's all Lightweights this season, but the interim featherweight champion Conor McGregor will coach the European team, and Alpha Male owner and bantamweight UFC star Urijah Faber is in charge for the American team.
Conor: "I don't see Urijah as a competitor on my level. He's just there. I smoked his teammate." This comes with a clip of the McGregor vs. Mendes bout from UFC 189.
Faber: "Is Ireland known for cantaloupes? He looks like a cantaloupe on a toothpick. If they're not known for them they should be now."
Conor: "If this was Urijah against anyone else, it would not be what it will be."
Our first fighters trying out are Johnny Nunez (5-1) vs. Ryan Hall (4-1). If the former seems familiar it's because he fought (and lost to) Joe Condon at WSOF 17 on the main card via guillotine choke. Nunez proves he's vulnerable to submission yet again as Ryan goes to the ground, locks up a leg, and Nunez taps out to the heel hook.
Next up are two Europeans. David Teymur (3-1) says he's an outstanding kickboxer who is 41 out of 42 in muay thai fights. He's facing Thibault Gouti (10-0), who notes that MMA is still illegal in France, which makes it much more difficult to be a pro fighter. Both rounds are cut down to highlights, although Teymur seems to be doing more damage in R2 thanks to his K-1 background. Teymur advances via majority decision.
Andres Quintana (8-1) will face Thanh Le (4-1) in our second American fight. Le is quickly branded "The Kung-Fu Man" by Faber due to his arsenal of kicks. His overhand right is equally dangerous. Le throws a wild spin kick that appears to nail Quintana in the head but Dana White thinks it hit a glove. Either way he survives for a second round. Le lands a clean straight right hand in R2 and one follow-up on the ground before it's waved off. Le advances by knockout.
Between fights McGregor is talking smack. "Be glad you don't have to face me. I'd kill you stone dead." Faber: "I'd like to see you pull your massive f---ing head out of my armpit. It wouldn't happen."
McGregor's friend, Russian ex-pat Artem Lobov (11-10-1-1) is next. He faces Mehdi Baghdad (11-3) from France, who says his advantage is he trains with Anderson Silva. Lobov is actually the one acting like Silva - dropping his hands and daring Baghdad to hit him some more. McGregor is calling out advice to him as he watches from the judging desk. He lands some hard shots and Baghdad shakes it off then connects with a kick to the chin. McGregor is begging Lobov to throw the left kick and left knee. There were enough hard shots on both sides that a second round is somewhat surprising.
Both men are quickly throwing hands to open R2. Lobov goes for a takedown, Baghdad sprawls, Lobov comes up bloody. Dana White is thrilled. Faber: "What a war." White: "These guys are f---ing murdering each other." The second round is cut down to highlights. Dana: "This fight was awesome. I honestly believe it should have gone to a third round." Baghdad gets a majority decision. McGregor comes over to console Lobov and tells him it was a great fight. Dana says he's "far from a loser" afterward.
Julian Erosa (14-2) vs. Jason Soares (8-0) for America is next, but this fight is cut down to "Performance Highlights." Erosa stuffed takedowns and did more damage so Erosa wins by decision and does a backflip to celebrate.
Europeans are next. Saul Rogers (10-1) says he may be European for this show he's Manchester, England all the way and will continue to put it on the map. Paulo Boer (10-1-1) is his foe and says the flight from Vegas was short so he's ready for war. This is cut down to highlights too. Boer survived an early choke attempt but Rogers ultimately got his hand raised. Faber asks where the ring girls are.
The Notorious Quote of the Week: "You should walk around with a ring card and shake that chin." WINNER~!
Brandon Ricetti (7-1) vs. Billy Quarantillo (6-1) is next for the Americans. This one is also cut down to the highlights. Ricetti hammers his way to a TKO in R2.
Frantz Slioa (4-0) faces Martin Delaney (10-1) for the Europeans next. Slioa seems to have one trick in the bag - going for takedowns and getting on top in scrambles. Delaney eventually takes advantage of that and gets a back mount with a body lock, getting an arm under the chin. Slioa goes out cold for Delaney's rear naked choke - a win via technical submission.
Jason Gonzalez (9-2) vs. Tim Welch (12-5) is next for Team America. Welch is another fighter you may recognize going in, due to a couple of bouts in Bellator, if not for his bright red shock of hair. Welch quickly winds up on top in side control but is pushed back to guard. Gonzalez gets a leg around his neck but Welch pops free and is dropping some big right elbows which have Gonzalez' sister and girlfriend worried.
After R1 is cut to highlights we go to R2 with Welch popping Gonzalez in the stand-up until Gonzalez clips him with one big liver shot and pounds it out on the ground, leaving Gonzalez' family relieved. Gonzalez advances via TKO.
Abner Lloveras (19-7-1) from Spain faces Vlado Sikic (10-0) from Croatia. The latter definitely has the better smack talk - he says he loves to break people. Lloveras is flying all around the cage with kicks but Sikic takes him down 30 seconds in. Sikic's shoulder pops out but he decides to keep fighting. Lloveras ultimately gets the verbal submission when he torques Sikic's arm on the ground.
Mike Flach (7-1) takes on Tom Gallicchio (19-8). Faber on the latter: "That's a HAIRY dude!" Gallicchio: "I'm like water. I don't really know what that means but Bruce Lee says it so it has to be good." I like him already. With that record I feel like I've seen him somewhere before. Gallicchio taps out Flach a little over a minute in via RNC.
Martin Svensson (14-5) will battle Mohamed Grabinski (10-1). Once again we're only going to see "Performance Highlights." Apparently they spent the entire first round escaping each other's back takes. It's a draw so we go to the third round and Svensson wins a unanimous decision.
Djamil Chan (9-2) takes on Marcin Wrzosek (10-2). Highlights again. 'The Polish Zombie' Wrzosek wins via submission.
Sascha Nitin Sharma (8-2) faces Sean Carter (10-1). Cut down to highlights. Dana White says the first was "a pretty uneventful round." Sharma landed a lot of ground and pound, Carter went for a triangle too late, Sharma advances.
Austin Springer (8-0) vs. Chris Gruetzemacher (12-1). I won't lie - I'm pretty psyched about this one given I've interviewed Springer before. Both men are going toe to toe with shots from the start. Springer gets a big cut over his right eyebrow in one of the exchanges and gets clipped shortly after. Gruetzemacher nails him with a big knee before the end of the round in cut down highlights, but Springer survives to get R2.
Gruetzemacher hurts him with another knee, and Springer is warned twice not to grab the fence. Springer is trying like hell to stay in the fight, but he's getting nailed with knees up the middle, and Dana White is calling for the fight to be stopped. "This kid's got nothing left." McGregor is begging the ref to stop it too when Springer takes another knee flush to the head. Dana is pissed. I am too. Faber: "Man that was a tough fight to watch."
Needless to say Gruetzemacher advances via TKO.
Brennan Sevin (7-1) vs. James Jenkins (8-1) in another fight to join Team America. Jenkins gets a takedown quick and just as quickly is told to "improve his position." He backs off for a second and gets right back in guard, with his girlfriend cheering him on. That's where he stays for most of the round it seems as this is cut down to highlights.
The second round turns into a slobberknocker with both guys throwing haymakers trying to get the other to fall, with the coaches marking out for each blow that lands, Dana White being as loud if not louder. McGregor: "Good exchanges." No s--t Conor!! Every other word out of Dana White's mouth is being bleeped out. After a failed takedown they trade again for the final 17 seconds of R2.
Jenkins advances via the judges to conclude the qualifying TUF 22 fights.
Faber dubs his team the "Bad News Bears" but says they have a great mentality and will win with positive energy. McGregor says he doesn't (yet) have an emotional bond with his team - it's all business. Dana thanks everybody for being here and tells the losers we appreciate you but pack your bags and head out. To those who are left: "You fight like you fought today and you'll do just fine."
TEAM FABER WINS THE COIN TOSS and gets the first pick on Monday. What does that even mean? The show airs on Wednesday. Anyway that's where the show ends.
Team McGregor (Europe): Abner Lloveras, David Teymur, Marcin Wrzosek, Martin Delaney, Martin Svensson, Mehdi Baghdad, Sascha Sharma, Saul Rogers
Team Faber (United States): Brandon Ricetti, Chris Gruetzemacher, James Jenkins, Jason Gonzalez, Julian Erosa, Ryan Hall, Thanh Le, Tom Gallicchio