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TUF Recap: ‘The Polish Zombie’ Banks Team Europe’s First Win

Fightland Blog

By Peter Carroll

At the beginning of episode four, Dana White claimed that he had never seen a coach get as fired up as McGregor did last week when the Irishman urged Sascha Sharma to “stay on (his) fucking feet” on route to Team Europe picking up there second loss in a row.

This week’s episode went back over McGregor’s dressing down of Sharma in the locker rooms after the bout, and shows Urijah Faber continuing to criticize McGregor’s failure to show up for morning practice sessions.

“You do need to show up for morning practice though,” said Faber after the two playfully tied up in the hall of the TUF Gym.

“World champions don’t need their hands held,” replied McGregor. “I’m running my own show. So I’ll give them a platform, I’ll let my coaches teach them – I don’t need to be in your face. The kid threw it away.”

“You didn’t help him by showing up for half of the practices,” Faber fired back.

Despite his very public critique at the hands of the interim featherweight champion, Sharma seemed to take the SBG fighter’s analysis constructively. 

“I’ve just got to look at where my problems were,” said Sharma. “Conor already told me that ‘this and this’ were errors, and if I work on that these things won’t happen again.”

Back at the house, Team Europe discussed the importance of mental preparation ahead of Marcin Wrzosek's upcoming clash with the experienced Tom Gallicchio. As Artem Lobov pointed out earlier, the team’s pursuit of a win is a matter of pride at this stage, having lost the first two bouts.

Gallicchio outlined that it wasn’t Faber you selected him to fight Wrzosek, but he put himself forward to fight ‘The Polish Zombie’, as he could see himself submitting the European when the two face off.

The two opponents talked to each other over breakfast with Wrzosek claiming he would find it hard to punch Gallicchio in the face given how well they get on. The American revealed that he is also known as ‘The Zombie’ in some circles, which makes him call the Pole his “brother from another mother.”

Later in the episode, McGregor concedes that he “shouldn’t have got so wound up” during last week’s fight.

“I have to be real with myself and realize that I am going to be emotionally invested in this,” he said. “When I see what happened to Sascha, I got frustrated with it. I just wanted to see a little bit more fire in the fight. I’m upset with the way I reacted during the fight, I was learning too once and I made many errors in my career as well. Sascha is a good kid and he has good work ethic, I shouldn’t have got so wound up with it.”

McGregor led his team through a session that focused on getting up from the bottom in grappling exchanges, a situation that Wrzosek could find himself in against the wrestling base of Gallicchio. ‘The Polish Zombie’ also prepared with some flow sparring with Saul Rogers to get himself ready for the bout.

When Johnny Nunez didn't show up to training, the rest of Team USA told Faber that the wrestling standout wanted to miss practice rather than help Gallicchio cut weight, which his excuse for his absence. Faber outlined that having been given a second chance on the show, Nunez should be showing up for every session. When he eventually shows up at the gym, Faber tells him to provide notice the next time he will miss practice.

Wrzosek and Gallicchio's bout opened with a very competitive round between the UFC hopefuls. Although Wrzosek completely dominated the striking exchanges and landed at will, Gallicchio did well to force the action to the ground. However, the Team USA man got far too high with his back mount and allowed ‘The Polish Zombie’ to tee off with punishing right hands despite being locked in a body triangle.

Wrzosek managed to establish top position and land more grounded blows and when the two stood up, he lit the American up again with his right hand. Gallicchio briefly claimed mount position after his getting Wrzosek down for a second time, but the Polish fighter managed to get a sweep just before the round came to an end.

‘The Polish Zombie’ came out strong with more solid connections in the second before Gallicchio forced the action to the canvas before quickly transitioning to mount. Although he ate some shots from the bottom, Wrzosek caught a sweep and landed more shots from the American’s guard, and continued to land as the two stood up.

Gallicchio ate a big right hand as he looked to close the distance for a takedown again, and when he got back to his feet he looked very drained. Wrzosek piled on the pressure in the closing exchanges as Gallicchio attempted to take the fight to the ground. Although some thought the fight would warrant a third round, the Polish lightweight took the victory unanimously on the judges’ scorecards.

McGregor highlighted that he believes the Americans will be reluctant to exchange with the Europeans after Wrzosek’s display. The Irish featherweight chose to put Saul Rogers, one of the most highly touted members of the European team, against Billy Quaranteillo for the next fight and expressed his belief that the Team USA fighter “will not be able to live with Saul’s pressure.” 

 

Check out these related stories:

TUF Recap: McGregor Lambasts Sascha as Team USA Advance to 2-0

Lobov out to Impress After McGregor Provides Second Chance on TUF

Watch Conor McGregor Teach the Training Method He Uses Most

 

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