We left off last week with the quarterfinal bouts being finalized on TUF 22 and Chris Gruetzemacher being informed that he was the odd man out.
There was honestly nothing to love about the new twist on TUF 22. UFC President Dana White announced in the season opener that nine winners would be crowned in the elimination round, but only eight of those fighters would actually advance to the quarterfinals. Gruetzemacher’s less than stellar performance in his win over Sascha Sharma left him clinging to the short straw with a somber look on his face.
That look would quickly fade in light of a surprise opportunity.
After visiting a doctor, Team McGregor’s Martin Svensson, who was slated to fight Artem Lobov in the first quarterfinal fight, was forced out of the competition after learning he had broken his elbow in his fight against Thanh Le.
Gruetzemacher was then given a second life in the competition and named as Svensson’s replacement.
Meanwhile, things were starting to get a bit crazy at the TUF house. Fighters were reaching the stage in the competition when isolation begins to take its toll on their psyche. It’s not easy being cooped up in a mansion for several weeks with no form of media or connection with the outside world.
So White decided to scoop up a handful of ladies and throw the boys a pool party. The fighters were able to put the competition on the backburner for a few hours and enjoy a little social time with mixed company.
But it was back to flying fists and oxygen-deprived lungs the next day. Conor McGregor and Urijah Faber worked tenaciously to prepare their fighters for the next round of fights. Lobov and Gruetzemacher was the first of two fights to air on Wednesday’s episode.
There wasn’t much game planning needed on the side of Team Faber. Lobov was a meat and potatoes kind of fighter. He always marches forward with his hands high, hell-bent on separating you from consciousness. All Gruetzemacher had to do was stay on the outside, work some leg kicks and pick his punches.
It seemed simple enough.
Gruetzemacher ripped at Lobov’s stationary lead leg from afar with stinging kicks. He refrained from getting overzealous and kept things technical. But then the punches started landing for Lobov in the second round, and Faber’s foolproof game plan evaporated into thin air. Gruetzemacher ate a massive left hand before crumpling to the canvas. Lobov’s face was a bloody mess, but he walked away in cool fashion after serving up his second consecutive knockout.
The other quarterfinal fight pitted “The Wizard” Ryan Hall against Team McGregor’s Saul Rogers. This fight pairing was a surprise initially because both of these fighters have been looked at as two of the best on the show.
Hall seemed destined to pull away from the competition with his Brazilian jiu-jitsu greatness and leg locking skills that rival or even surpass those of Rousimar Palhares. His 50/50 guard was the great equalizer that no other fighter could match. But as Saul Rogers demonstrated in the quarterfinal fight, you don’t have to match wits with Hall when you avoid the position altogether.
Rogers defended takedowns beautifully and controlled all of Hall’s snake-like attempts to wrap up a leg. In a sense, he took away the wizard’s crutch — or wand, per se — by keeping the fight on his terms. On the feet, Hall looked more resilient than expected as he mixed things up with a variety of kicks. We even saw him bust out a hook kick.
However, it wasn’t enough against Rogers, who cemented his position as the man to beat in the competition by outpointing Hall to a majority decision.
Team Faber is down to its last man. Julian Erosa will face Team McGregor’s Abner Lloveras in next week’s quarterfinals, and teammates Marcin Wrzosek and David Teymur will also be in action. If you’re behind and need to catch-up on all of the fight drama from TUF 22, we’ve got you covered:
- TUF 22 Recap: McGregor’s Guy Struggles
- TUF 22 Recap: Team Faber Draws First Blood
- TUF 22 Recap: ‘Gritz’ Shows Grit for Team Faber
- TUF 22 Recap: Team McGregor Unites to Get First Win
- TUF 22 Recap: Team McGregor Evens Playing Field
- TUF 22 Recap: Mystic Mac Strikes Again
- TUF 22 Recap: Will the Real McGregor Please Stand Up?
- TUF 22 Recap: No McGregor, No Problems
- TUF 22 Recap: Team McGregor Continues to Get Last Laugh
New episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber” air every Wednesday night on FOX Sports 1 at 10 p.m. ET.