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TUF 22 Recap: ‘Gritz’ Shows Grit for Team Faber

Having lost the first bout of the tournament, Conor McGregor and his team of European up-and-comers looked to get back on track.

Despite what Urijah Faber may have claimed in the off-show interviews, UFC president Dana White made it a point to say McGregor’s not only a good coach, but he genuinely cares about the fighters on his team. Early scenes showed McGregor focusing his time on the episode’s European representative, top-control specialist Sascha Sharma.

Faber noted that his fighter, Chris Gruetzemacher, was too welcoming to punches while marching forward — which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing considering Faber didn’t feel Sharma was capable of capturing the one-punch knockout.

Faber and a few members of Team Alpha Male went to the Ultimate Fighter house as they watched one of their own, T.J. Dillashaw, defend his UFC bantamweight title against Renan Barao this past July.

“He done well; he done well,” McGregor admitted to Faber in the following scene. “I’m happy for him.”

The fight analysis wouldn’t remain so cordial between the rivaling coaches, though.

McGregor told Faber as they waited for their two fighters to weigh in:

“But I think you should man up and fight [Dillashaw] now. You brought him out of college; you said you brought him up and then Duane [Ludwig came] in and took him from you and now he’s winning the world championship. You should man up now and get that fight, I feel. That’s your only fight, really.

“Recognize the enemy, that’s what I’ll say.”

With the bait dangling right in front of him, Faber refused to bite.

The fighters weighed in shortly after, where White offered his thoughts on the matchup. As he saw it, Gruetzemacher’s experience, elite training partners and ground control made him the favorite. Sharma’s best bet going in would be to keep the fight standing.

A German-Indian fighter, Sharma recognized his position in this fight, though — he knew he was the underdog coming in, relishing in the pressure that comes natively to those with nothing to prove.

The opening round wasn’t necessarily dictated by the expectations coming into the fight, as the round was only narrowly controlled by the American fighter, who had dominant moments from top position. Sharma, however, would prove to get the better in the clinch exchanges while the two were on the feet. He constantly pressured Gruetzemacher against the cage, landing stiff knees against his opponent’s body. The fight looked like it was on its last legs early on as Sharma nearly locked in a triangle choke from the bottom. But just as McGregor got his hopes up for a first-round finish, Gruetzemacher pulled his head out.

Sharma came out with a gash atop his head in Round 2, leaving him a bloody mess early on in the second and final frame. Even after dominating the exchanges on the feet, Sharma inexplicably went for sloppy, telegraphed takedown attempts that frustrated McGregor who couldn’t help but tell him to “stay on [his] f—–g feet.” Gruetzemacher nearly found the armbar finish before exchanging top position on the canvas.

“You need to find patience in there, that’s what it’s all about,” McGregor said to one of his coaches during the bout. “The patient man always prevails.”

The scheduled two rounds were not enough to determine a victor in this contest — Gruetzemacher and Sharma would need to go a third round before advancing to the next round.

Much to the dismay of McGregor and his instructions, Sharma opened the round with another takedown attempt from several feet out. The attempt came up short, allowing Gruetzemacher to take top position and land several punches from the guard before advancing to side control. No matter how many times McGregor called on his fighter to stand up, Sharma seemed too tired and remained in a vulnerable position on the canvas.

All three judges scored the third round, and the bout, in favor of Gruetzemacher 10-9.

Having watched his fighter disobey instruction after instruction, McGregor was understandably — and noticeably — frustrated. Not one to shy away from a humorous situation, Faber had himself a nice chuckle after the bout.

“For not being emotionally invested you sure got emotionally invested,” Faber said. “I think you need to show up to morning practices from now on [to] help these guys out.”

Surprisingly enough, McGregor had no silver-tongued comeback. He simply nodded in his head in agreement.

Team Faber retained control, opting in having the New Jersey’s Tom Gallicchio take on Poland’s Marcin Wrzosek.

If you’re behind and need to catch-up on all of the fight drama, we got you covered:

New episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber” air every Wednesday night on FOX Sports 1 at 10 p.m. ET.

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