Ultimate Fighter 22 Review: Episode 5
Saul Rogers won the second fight in a row for Team Europe on last week's show. Conor McGregor picked 'The Sultan' Mehdi Baghdad to face Julian Erosa this week - we'll see if Baghdad can make it three in a row.
Erosa is not taking it well that Baghdad promised to beat him up in the face off last week - and Faber is telling him to feed off those "fighting words" and get more pumped. Baghdad is ALREADY pumped. He talks about his K-1 kickboxing credentials, and brags he'll "cut him like I cut my filet mignon" with his elbows. McGregor says the only thing Baghdad can do to get better is improve his footwork.
T.J. Dillashaw is here to help out the U.S. team train following his most recent title fight. Faber talks about Duane Ludwig leaving after being with Team Alpha Male for a year getting Dillashaw to the world title, and Dillashaw following him to Colorado. Except at this point in the filming he hasn't QUITE left. He and Faber are chummy and all Dillashaw will say is "Faber and Ludwig don't see eye to eye" and that he has a close bond with Ludwig.
Weigh-in time! Baghdad is 155.5 and Erosa is 156. Ryan Hall says Erosa is one of the toughest guys on their team. Dana White says his style is "unorthodox and weird" but says Baghdad is a world class muay thai striker. Both teams are sitting around waiting for a photo shoot and Conor McGregor starts talking smack about Dillashaw again. "Little snake in the grass he is. He's a little snake in the grass." Faber: "I think you just don't want to fight either of us." He accuses Faber of cutting down Chad Mendes in the process when Faber says he wouldn't get tired fight McGregor. Faber immediately corrects him "on TWO WEEKS notice" but McGregor is having none of it. "Maybe you're all snakes!" Then things get HOSTILE right before the commercial.
The extended cut after the commercial break has a lot of four letter words and a lot of pull-aparts and a lot of words bleeped out as coach Cody Garbrandt from Faber's camp finally got ticked off and one of them walked over and shoved McGregor in the chest! Good thing it was a coach and not a fighter because a fighter would have been kicked off the show for it. Dillashaw was off getting coffee when the whole thing went down. McGregor can't resist stirring the pot some more even after everybody gets settled down and tries to create some hostility between Dillashaw and Faber. Dillashaw stays cool as a cucumber: "I don't need your fake ass belt."
After the break Baghdad puts on his headdress and says he's representing all Arabic people as well as his country of France. He's my other Fighter to Watch as a former RFA Lightweight Champion and K-1 France Champion. Faber is reminding Erosa to be the guy to strike first and control every position the fight goes to. Baghdad is 11-3 and Erosa is 14-2, so we've got two very experienced guys going into this fight.
Lightweight: Mehdi Baghdad (Europe) vs. Julian Erosa (USA)
Erosa is in the blue and Baghdad the gray. Baghdad is trying to pressure and Erosa has no problem with it, popping Baghdad with jabs. Baghdad does catch him with a good right hook though. You can really see where the "unorthodox" comes from with Erosa - he'll lean his body one way and then strike from the opposite side. It would be really confusing to stand in front of him and figure out where the shots were coming from. He's not just a power puncher too - he's also got some crisp leg and head kicks, and he lands a sneaky knee when Baghdad tries to clinch. It's a fairly even fight through the first three minutes, but slowly leaning toward Baghdad due to him being the aggressor. Baghdad lands really hard shots when he does close the distance and pin Erosa against the cage, but he just can't keep him there for long.
As in the first round Baghdad is trying to be the man who comes forward early and wins Octagon control, but it still seems like Erosa is giving as good as he's getting from my vantage point. McGregor is screaming at Baghdad to let his hands go two minutes in. If anything it seems like Erosa's striking is getting better the longer the fight goes, but Baghdad's right hook is really nasty. Erosa lands a nice kick to the face in the last minute and Baghdad responds with one in kind. It's a shame there won't be a third round with only 8 minutes left. Dana says Julian probably landed more but Baghdad probably hit harder - and this is why you don't leave it to the judges in a fight. Faber gives McGregor a pair of American sandals.
20-18, 19-19, 20-18 for the winner by majority decision - Julian Erosa.
Faber announces his picks for next week's fight is Thanh Le (USA) vs. Martin Svensson (Europe). Come back to see what happens next week and if McGregor can stir the pot up a little bit more!