Last week’s second installment of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Europe vs Team USA ended as Faber’s crew took first blood with a heel hook as Ryan Hall saw off Frantz Slioa. Keeping the fight selection privilege on the back of the win, ‘The California Kid’ selected Chris Gruetzemacher to take on Sascha Sharma.
During the first training sequence for Team Europe, Dana White and some members of the team explained that Conor McGregor’s coaching role isn’t quite as hands off as the Irishman outlined on last week’s episode. According to White, McGregor doesn’t show up for the team’s training session in the morning but does make an appearance for the more intense session each evening—an arrangement that the team seem to be happy with.
Given the powerful first showing from ‘Gritz’, whose size and strength allowed him to impose his will on Austin Springer to gain his place in the house, Team Europe coach McGregor explained his plan to work on Sharma’s activity against the fence. During Team USA’s training session, Faber states that should ‘Gritz’ be able to stay away from Sharma’s clinch, the Team USA fighter should come away with the victory.
Faber made his way over to the TUF house to watch Team Alpha Male teammate and UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw defend his title against Renan Barao the night before the weigh ins for the meeting of Gritz and Sascha. While Dillashaw successfully defended his title, McGregor expressed why he believes Faber should fight his teammate now given the heavily publicized rift between the TAM boss and Duane Ludwig, who cornered Dillashaw for the Barao bout.
“I think you should man-up and fight him now,” McGregor told Faber before Gruetzemacher and Sharma weighed in. “You brought him out of college, you said you brought him up and then Duane came in and took him from you. Now he’s winning the world championship—you should man-up now and get that fight, I feel. That’s your only fight, really.”
“I see these comments going back and forth and I realize that Urijah’s an absolute pussy,” McGregor added on the broadcast. “He took some kid out of school, he showed him the ropes, showed him the path and gave him the opportunity. (Then) he brought in some stand-up coach, he takes over the coaching and then TJ goes with him. I think it’s a bitch move on TJ’s part and I think it’s a bitch move on Urijah’s part not recognizing it.”
McGregor took his place in the bleachers with the rest of Team Europe as Sharma and Gruetzemacher got under way. The German managed to close the distance early on ‘Gritz’ and inside the first two minutes the Team USA man had to be on high alert as he found himself in a tight triangle. Despite some heavy ground and pound from Gruetzemacher in the closing minute of the bout, it seemed Sharma’s activity in the clinch and off his back was enough to win him the round.
After instructing his fighter to stand and exchange with his counterpart, McGregor’s temper started to flare in the second round as Sharma’s failed takedown attempt forced the action to the canvas.
“Stay on your fucking feet!” roared McGregor, throwing his designer sunglasses at the fence as he ran towards the action in the Octagon. When Sharma again went to his back after getting back to his feet, McGregor remarked that the German’s technique was “pony shit”, before he explained to the rest of the team that fighting “is about patience.”
At one round each, the action was forced to a sudden victory round. Before it began, once again McGregor instructed Sharma to stay on his feet. When Sharma immediately shot in for a takedown the Irishman frustratingly exclaimed, “What the fuck?”
“Don’t be going to you back like a bitch for fuck’s sake,” McGregor shouted towards his fighter. Having conceded top position, Gritz remained dominant, raining down shots to claim the final round. After the win was officially announced for Team USA, Faber took an opportunity to criticize McGregor’s antics while watching the contest.
“For not being emotionally invested, you sure got emotionally invested,” said Faber to ‘The Notorious’. “ I think you need to start showing up for morning practices from now on. Help these guys out, it’s their opportunity.”
With the ball still firmly in his court, Faber opted to put one of his most experienced fighters, Tom Gallicchio up against Poland’s Marcin Wrzosek, who McGregor claims “has that fight in him” as opposed to Sharma.
The Irish featherweight pulled no punches when he got back to the dressing room with his team, insisting that it was Sharma’s errors that cost him the win.
“There was no skill difference there, it was just errors you were making. There was no skill difference, it wasn’t like he was the better man because he wasn’t the better man. You gave him everything there – you went to your back, you shot in from a mile out. You need to decide for yourself whether you want to be here and if you want to truly fight,” he said.
Whether McGregor’s speech to Sharma has had an impact on his team to the point where the can start putting numbers on the board, we will have to wait for next week’s episode to find out.
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