It’s time to close out another season of episodes for The Ultimate Fighter, as tonight brings the semifinals to Fox Sports 1 in advance of Friday’s finale event. Conor McGregor’s Team Europe has three of our final four, while Julian Erosa remains for Urijah Faber’s Team U.S. Time for the rundown.
-We’re getting Saul Rogers vs. Marcin Wrzosek and Artem Lobov vs. Erosa tonight. McGregor says it’s not weird to have the “teammates” fighting one another because it only highlights what he’s said all along, which is that they came into this show for themselves and would have to fight for themselves.
McGregor: “It’s just business. It’s not weird here. They’re not teammates here. They came into the show to win the show, they were put together on a team. They’re not teammates back home.”
-Rogers says he’s closest to both Marcin and Artem in the house, so he wasn’t wanting to have to fight them, but he is indeed there for himself, so they’ll do what they have to do, then grab beers afterward. Marcin feels it’s a tough fight for a number of reasons, but he was looking forward to the challenge.
FIGHT ONE: SAUL ROGERS VS. MARCIN WRZOSEK
ROUND ONE: Rogers landed a solid body kick early. He backed Wrzosek up with a few punches. Wrzosek returned fire. Rogers landed a solid combination. He stayed the aggressor, trying to press Wrzosek down. He landed a nice right hand. Rogers then shot in and scored a takedown into half guard. Like last week, eerily silent in the TUF gym for the teammate vs. teammate fight. No instructions being shouted out to either. Wrzosek got himself to the cage and tried to get up, but Rogers controlled him for a bit before dragging him back down. He sat up again, then got to his knees, eventually working back up to his feet. Rogers continued to work more effectively on the feet, though the pace significantly slowed. Rogers caught a kick and scored another takedown. He transitioned to Wrzosek’s back and rode out the round. Easy Rogers round.
ROUND TWO: Wrzosek tossed out some hard strikes early. He connected on a significant right hand, but Rogers took it and kept moving forward. After a few short exchanges, Rogers caught another kick and took Wrzosek down. Wrzosek tried to get to his knees, but Rogers kept him down and landed strikes. Wrzosek briefly scrambled up, but got dragged back down. Rogers continued throwing out minor shots as he held position. Wrzosek covered up as he tried to scramble up. There was an awkward non-break off a potential low blow and they continued on. Rogers landed a few strikes. Wrzosek scrambled, but Rogers took him back down. This time, he took his back, locked on a rear naked choke, and forced a quick tap. Rogers’ top game quite good against fighters without much grappling acumen.
WINNER: Rogers via submission (rear naked choke) in the second round
-After a break, it’s on to Team U.S. training, and Faber’s brought along none other than Jose Aldo to give the guys some training tips. Given how excellent Aldo is, that was a great opportunity for those guys to get a little work in with someone of that caliber. Faber and Aldo even got a little playful grappling in.
-On to Lobov, who talked about wanting the Erosa fight, and going for a third KO on TUF. He’s not sure if that would be a record (neither am I off hand), but he wants to repeat that feat if it had been done. McGregor said he felt the key to the fight was ring control, and cutting Erosa off, dealing with the single strikes from the American before firing off return combinations.
-McGregor and Lobov talked about their history with one another, including Lobov sleeping on the floor of McGregor’s hotel prior to his UFC debut. Lobov’s clearly the one on the team whom McGregor has had a bond with all season, and it’s for the obvious history between them. That said, McGregor also commented that he’d grown to have an emotional attachment afterall to the guys he’s been working with on this team.
-Aldo was sitting in the bleachers when McGregor entered the gym in a sprung on him appearance. McGregor smiled, and almost laughed as he said “I didn’t think I’d see you again.” Dana White gave the hype to the bout as we’re now smack in the middle of fight week.
McGregor: “Jose is a runner, he’s known for pulling out of contests. But I must say, it’s good to see him.”
-On the fight itself, Erosa had a comment that stuck, saying of McGregor, “I just want to see his face when I beat his boy.”
FIGHT TWO: ARTEM LOBOV VS. JULIAN EROSA
ROUND ONE: Lobov came straight ahead and landed a punch with a leg kick behind it. Lobov had Erosa’s back on the cage quick. Erosa covered up and tried to circle out, though Lobov effectively cut him off. Lobov then rocked him with a left hook that dropped him to a knee; he landed another left to drop him to the ground, and he landed a few more strikes to put Erosa out cold up by the cage. Quick, simple, effective, and Lobov’s really erased that elimination round decision defeat.
WINNER: Lobov via KO in the first round
McGregor: “Back to back to back first round KOs. I’ve never been more proud in my life.”
Lobov: “My flags are covered in the blood of my enemies, and I will enter the final fight ready to kill and prepared to die.”
-McGregor continued to talk up Lobov and the long road that’s brought them to the final. Faber told Erosa he didn’t even see the finish as Erosa’s back was to him when it happened. Faber said it was a hiccup. McGregor gave some respect to Erosa after the loss.
-Dana White said Lobov was a huge surprise, as he came back in and knocked out three guys. White called it one of the most impressive TUF performances.
-White gave another hard sell to UFC 194 as Aldo and McGregor squared off in the TUF gym. He said they’ve done a nine million dollar gate for the event.
-Whoa, and we get a curve ball. Dana White says Saul Rogers lied on his visa application, and now is having issues getting into the country. A graphic claimed a legal issue was to blame. With Rogers unable to fight on Friday night’s finale, the UFC tapped Ryan Hall, who dropped a majority decision to Rogers and could have potentially gotten a third round, as the replacement to fight Lobov. We’re getting a Europe vs. U.S. final afterall. Alright then.
-Thanks for joining us this season for the TUF 22 recaps this fall. We’ll have live coverage coming each of the next three nights for the UFC’s three events from Las Vegas, so stick with us for full coverage of it all!