Ultimate Fighter 22 Review: Episode 1
The season begins with a bunch of random American and European fighters arriving at the gym in Las Vegas. Many are 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.
If Conor is involved, of course we get alot of trash talk. And Faber does his best to hang with him. Clearly Conor is the real star here.
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."
As always with the first episode, we get a bunch of qualifying fights to get into the house. In many ways, its a way to see what guys have but to me, its a waste because its a 2 round fight with no prep of your opponent and nor strategy.
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 fucking head out of my armpit. It wouldn't happen."
One fight in particular draws Conor's attention, as it involves a friend of his and training partner. McGregor's friend, Russian Artem Lobov faces Mehdi Baghdad from France, who trains with Anderson Silva.
McGregor is calling out advice to him as he watches from the judging desk. There were enough hard shots on both sides that a second round is somewhat surprising. Both men are quickly throwing hands. Dana White is thrilled. Faber: "What a war." White: "These guys are f---ing murdering each other." 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.
The majority of the fights are cut down into short highlight packages with Dana, Faber and McGregor giving their reactions. There were a few fights that stood out though.
Austin Springer vs. Chris Gruetzemacher. Both men went 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 but survives to get R2.
Gruetzemacher hurts him with another knee, and 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.
Another good one was the last fight of the night between Brennan Sevin and James Jenkins. 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 decision.
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 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