This week’s episode opened with Team Europe head coach Conor McGregor praising his team on their mental strength. The Irishman claimed that if they were able to come through the TUF house without any issue, the rest of their time with the UFC would be relatively easy.
“His boxing is clean, his kicking is clean, but most importantly he is a crafty veteran,” McGregor pointed out about Abner Lloveras ahead of the final preliminary bout that will see the Spaniard take on Jason Gonzalez. The Europeans took the lead on last week’s episode to go 5-3 in the standings, and after Lloveras and Gonzalez clash, Dana White will decide which of the nine winners to remove from the house ahead of the quarterfinals based on who had the least impressive showing in the preliminary rounds.
Lloveras explained that he has such confidence in every aspect of MMA that he will look to isolate a weakness in Gonzalez, wherever it may be, and from there he will be able to work towards the wins. Such was McGregor’s confidence in Lloveras that he believed that he cannot teach him much, instead the interim champion claims he simply needs to “keep him right.”
During Jason Gonzalez’s final preparation in training, Urijah Faber asked for plenty of movement from the Team USA man. ‘The California Kid’ insisted that Lloveras will be aiming to use “set combinations” and for Gonzalez to be successful he needed to constantly keep his feet and head moving. Faber also highlighted his belief that Lloveras would look to take the fight to the ground to look for submission because Gonzalez’s skillset is “90 percent stand up.”
For this season’s ‘Coaches Challenge’ Dana White and Arianny Celeste joined the cast in the desert where the UFC president explained that both McGregor and Faber will drop five watermelons each from a helicopter on to a target with various scores on it ranging from 10-100. White outlined that the winning coach of the competition will receive $10000 and $1500 for each member of the team.
To the dismay of McGregor, Faber won the competition by hitting the bull’s eye to gain the maximum of 100 points before the Irishman even got to take his last shot. Team USA celebrated with their coach as ‘The Notorious’ looked on in a slightly disappointed manner.
When the action finally got underway in the final preliminary bout, Lloveras started well landing solidly on his bigger opponent. When Gonzalez managed to tag the Team Europe man a few times himself, Lloveras looked to execute a single leg, but the Team USA man did well to defend initially, moving his leg to the outside as Lloveras looked to take him down against the fence. When he did eventually get him down, the veteran landed some heavy shots from mount with his hands and elbows, but Gonzalez did well to stay in the fight until the end of the round.
Although Gonzalez opened the second round with some spectacular kicks, about a minute in Lloveras tied him up again as Gonzalez turned his back to land a spinning back kick. He briefly took Gonzalez down but even when the American got back to his feet the European stayed on him and eventually got him back to the canvas and immediately moved to mount. Gonzalez managed to retrieve his guard, but Lloveras transitioned beautifully to knee on belly before taking mount again. Gonzalez used the cage to get back to his feet and for some reason looked to pull guard, putting himself back on the bottom, as Lloveras tried to tie him up again. Gonzalez once again got back to his feet in the last minute, but once again he was taken down and Lloveras finished the round in mount landing punches.
There was no surprise when the judges did not call for a third round, and Lloveras took the unanimous decision win to become the ninth and final contestant to reach the quarterfinals.
With only eight quarter-final spots up for grabs, White had the task of cutting the least impressive winner. Consulting McGregor and Faber, the Dubliner claimed that Chris Gruetzemacher is the “front runner” to get chopped after his uneventful decision win over Sascha Sharma. Faber pointed to Martin Svensson as the man he believed should leave despite McGregor underlining the fact that he finished his fight inside two rounds. White agreed with McGregor that Svensson could not be taken out of the quarters based on his finish, and also claimed that he felt it was ‘Gritz’ who performed the worst in the preliminaries.
All of a sudden, McGregor and Faber started to argue about their approach to business, which inevitably ended up with them both talking about how much they want to fight each other. Although White cannot help but smile as the insults go back and forth he finally manages to cool them down to the point that they can make the quarterfinal matchups.
Understandably, Gruetzemacher was quite upset hearing that he was out of the running, but White explained that if any quarterfinalist gets injured he would immediately take their place.
This is how the quarterfinals will play out:
Artem Lobov vs Martin Svensson
Saul Rogers vs Ryan Hall
Marcin Wrzosek vs David Teymour
Julian Erosa vs Abner Lloveras
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