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TUF Recap: “A Russian-Irishman Always Keeps his Word”

Fightland Blog

By Peter Carroll

After winning back his pick on the back of Martin Svensson’s win over Thanh Le, Conor McGregor matched his SBG teammate Artem Lobov with Team USA’s James Jenkins.

In the opening scenes of this week’s episode, ‘The Russian Hammer’ expressed that his bout with Jenkins would be a “skill fight” and an opportunity to win a bonus off Dana White. McGregor agreed and exclaimed, “this is going to be a KO” before he highlighted that his friendship with Lobov made the bout somewhat more important to him.

During the training sequences, McGregor isolated Lobov’s awkward style, his power and his experience as his main advantages against Jenkins. Similarly, Jenkins explained how he can “hit like a ton of bricks” and that when his opponents feel his power “it seems to change their whole demeanor.” Faber explained how he felt the quarter-final pairing is a guaranteed exciting fight given the styles of the competitors, and predicted the bout would be “a bloody mess”.

It was clear that Lobov was ready for action at the fight’s weigh in. Sitting alongside McGregor, the SBG fighter quizzed Faber about the weight of his teammate Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili. When the Team USA coach replied that he is a featherweight, Lobov declared interest in a bout with him after the filming of the series. Furthermore, McGregor revealed that he believes Lobov will meet Faber down the line and ‘The California Kid’ answered by saying he would meet ‘The Russian Hammer’ after he beats the Irish interim champ.

After some more back and forth between McGregor and Faber concerning undercard slots and bouts with Lobov, back in the Team Europe dressing room the Irishman again outlined that his teammate would take a “stiff KO” in his bout due to Jenkins’ “leaning” style. The Irishman also revealed that Lobov has broken a bone in his face and knocked one of his teeth out during some of their “many wars over the years”.

After marching to the Octagon with a Russian flag in one hand and an Irish flag in the other, Lobov went straight toward Jenkins to engage as soon as the bell rung. Lobov put forward a dynamic striking attack with leg kicks and a multitude of punching techniques that put the American on the back foot early.

Midway through the first round, Lobov stumbled Jenkins with a right hand, and when the Team USA fighter got back to his feet he wore a significant cut to his right eye that saw the bout briefly stopped so the wound could get some attention from the medics.

Shorty after the restart, Lobov caught Jenkins on the way in with a perfectly timed right hand that saw the American crumble in the middle of the Octagon. Following him down to the deck with hammerfists, it wasn’t long before ‘The Russian Hammer’ had his hand raised.

After taking some time to celebrate with McGregor, the coach’s most enthusiastic celebration of the series thus far, Lobov turned his attention toward Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White.

“Did I promise you good fights? A Russian-Irishman always keeps his word,” Artem told the UFC brass. Having been brought back into the house after his elimination in his bout to establish himself in the TUF house, Lobov explained how he felt his recall had been vindicated on the back of the win, the first and only first round KO of the preliminary rounds.

After Lobov’s win, McGregor selected David Teymour to meet Team USA’s Johnny Nunez. Like Lobov, Nunez was given a second chance on the show after being submitted in the elimination round by Ryan Hall. Considering Teymour, McGregor highlighted his aggression and striking prowess as his keys to victory.  Although Faber pointed out that Nunez is far from the finished product, he believes his wrestling pedigree could be enough to see his hand raised.

Dana White revealed that the fight was scheduled for 4 pm and with McGregor not showing up on time, the Nevada State Athletic Commission told the UFC president they would wait no longer after holding the bout back for 15 minutes in the hope that the Irishman would arrive.

Nunez started off as the aggressor off the two throwing powerful hooks after he walked Teymour down. However, as soon as the European landed two seering knees on the American, the momentum quickly shifted when Nunez hit the ground. Nunez turtled up under the steady ground and pound of Teymour who looked to the referee to stop the bout as he landed a succession of shots., but eventually Nunez got back to his feet. Nunez threw a rasping left hook that immediately put Teymour down and followed him to the ground where he controlled his opponent for the remainder of the round. 

After eating two strong kicks and liver shot off Teymour, Nunez managed to briefly stop the European’s striking with a takedown attempt at the beginning of the second round. After the pause the action resumed on the feet, Teymour landed a flying knee and seemed to pull Nunez down on top of him. Again, the American controlled top position and landed light blows until the two were brought back to their feet inside the last minute. Teymour tried to tee off with a series of head kicks and flying knees, but despite his best efforts the bout was brought to a third round.

Two big left hands dropped Nunez in the first exchange of the third round and it wasn’t long before the duo found themselves back in the same turtle position with Teymour landing heavy shots as he did in the first round. The fight eventually got back to the standing department and Teymour landed heavily on the durable American. Although Nunez controlled Teymour from top position in the last frames of the third, the decision was given in favor of Team Europe to give them the lead, 5-3.

McGregor selected the last two remaining fighters, Abner Lloveras and Jason Gonzalez to square off in the final preliminary bout.

 

Check out these related stories:

TUF Recap: Absinthe Sees Team USA Spill Over, Team Europe Regains Parity

TUF Recap: Tempers Flair as Dillashaw Guest Coaches for Team USA

TUF Recap: Rogers Regains Parity for Team Europe with Dominant Decision

 

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