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TUF 22 Recap: Team McGregor Evens Playing Field

Life inside of The Ultimate Fighter House can turn on a dime.

Morale was at an all-time low a couple of weeks ago with Team McGregor. Sascha Sharma had deviated from the game plan and cost the team its second consecutive fight. Conor McGregor, who had been emotionally unattached from his team in the beginning, finally lost his cool and took out his frustrations on a pair of designer sunglasses.

Losing isn’t fun. It clings to you like a parasite and gnaws away at your psyche. Even a brazen showman like McGregor gets rattled at times.

But that was two weeks ago. It’s a new day in the Ultimate Fighter house, and for the first time, Team McGregor is running the show. Things kicked off this week with the team celebrating Marcin Wrzosek’s win over Team Faber’s Tom Gallicchio. The win gave Team McGregor the power for the first time in the competition to choose the next fight.

McGregor went with Saul Rogers against one of Team Faber’s least experienced fighters, Billy Quarantillo. The writing was on the wall from the very beginning that this fight could be a serious mismatch, but Team Faber went all-in helping Quarantillo focus on the fundamentals against a more technically sound opponent.

As Team Faber played catch-up in the gym, Chris Gruetzemacher showed early signs of a mental breakdown. The American fighter is on his way to the quarterfinals of the competition after defeating Sharma a couple of weeks ago, but he can’t seem to shake his persistent home sickness. Over the years, fighters have actually walked off the show for the same reasons.

Life in the Ultimate Fighter house can get a bit depressing at times, as there’s no phone or internet to connect with family and friends in the outside world. It literally drives some fighters crazy to the point where they have to create unique ways to entertain themselves.

Remember Uriah Hall and Kevin Casey’s epic kick-off competition?

UFC President Dana White knows things can get a bit boring in the house. From time to time, he’ll let the fighters go out and mingle to let off some steam. Both teams hit the Vegas strip this week to wind down and relax.

Unlike Gruetzemacher, most of the other contestants are still overwhelmed by the opportunity to compete on the show and turn their dreams into reality. Team McGregor’s Mehdi Baghdad said he was grateful for being given a once in a lifetime opportunity:

“We’re training with the best fighter in the world — Conor McGregor. Can you imagine that? This is a dream for a lot of people around the world. So for me this is a dream. I live in a big ass house with a nice pool and all the food I want, and I train with the best fighter in the world.”

We all know McGregor is a special fighter, but few thought he would ever be a great coach, especially after the first couple of weeks on the show. But the Irish star has apparently turned over a new leaf. Although he isn’t always present, he’s getting more involved in the game planning and the development of his fighters.

Not much game planning was needed this week though, as Rogers tore through Quarantillo with little effort. The paper breakdown for this bout was right on the money. Rogers dominated and controlled Quarantillo in every phase of fighting, but he did most of his damage with takedowns and ground-and-pound. Quarantillo always seemed to be out of position, which made it hard to find any room to escape from Rogers.

“Saul against Billy was a lion attacking a gazelle,” said McGregor.

That comparison seems about right, as Rogers turned in one of the most lopsided decisions on the show in recent memory.

 

Jiu-Jitsu ace Ryan Hall is still the favorite to win the show, but after watching Rogers’ performance, things could get interesting in the coming weeks. Team McGregor’s fight pick for next week is Mehdi Baghdad vs. Team Faber’s Julian Erosa. 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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