It’s time once again for another episode of The Ultimate Fighter on Fox Sports 1, as we continue on in the opening round of the Team U.S. vs. Team Europe tournament. After Martin Svensson submitted Thanh Le last week, it’s tied up with three wins apiece from each team, and the next two advancing competitors will be revealed tonight as James Jenkins takes on Artem Lobov, with a second bout being chosen and fought as well. Onto the episode recap!
-Lobov said when he was brought back by Dana White after a questionable decision loss in the elimination round, he didn’t feel like he deserved it, but he told himself he’d take full advantage of it. Conor McGregor made it clear that Lobov is his teammate, unlike those currently fighting under him.
McGregor: “Artem is my teammate, the team I’m with currently are not my teammates; we don’t know each other. Of course I will have a stronger bond and a more deeper connection with Artem. I’m not gonna fake it and say I don’t and it’s all equal, cause it’s not. I was here for Artem.”
-Lobov talked about emigrating from Russia to Ireland when he was 14, and McGregor sang his praises while they showed off some training clips. McGregor expected Lobov to secure a KO over Jenkins “no doubt.”
-Jenkins talked up his striking game, and Urijah Faber said he expected a bloody mess in the matchup itself.
-At weigh-ins, Lobov called for a fight with Faber’s teammate Andre Fili after the show, which Faber said would be bad for him. That led to another verbal exchange with McGregor suggesting Lobov and Faber will wind up meeting.
McGregor to Faber: “I’ll stick you on the undercard of my show and revive your career.”
-The banter continued in the locker rooms, with Faber saying he’ll give Lobov a title shot after he takes it from McGregor. Back in their own room, McGregor talked up Lobov again, and again said he expected a KO from Lobov in this one.
-Lobov says his gameplan for every single fight is to go in the cage, hit his opponent as hard as he can, as much as he can.
FIGHT ONE: ARTEM LOBOV VS. JAMES JENKINS
ROUND ONE: Both fighters looked to test out the range to set up their power strikes. Lobov got in a solid right hand. They traded, with Lobov landing a good left in the exchange. Lobov landed a hard body kick, then a leg kick. He got in a couple short punches. Jenkins reached in with a punch and got countered. Lobov just appeared faster to the punch early. Jenkins connected on a hard right hand, but Lobov took it in stride. He landed a body kick. Lobov landed a solid uppercut. He got in another hard right hand. Lobov rocked Jenkins with a right hand Jenkins didn’t go all the way down and tried to come back ahead. Lobov busted up Jenkins’ eye with a strike and it was clearly bothering Jenkins. After a few more strikes, the referee halted it to have the doctor check the damage. They continued, and Lobov calmly went back on the attack. He smartly continued to throw left hand strikes to the damaged right eye of Jenkins. Jenkins got in a right hand. Lobov landed a couple of hard leg kikcs as Jenkins tried to circle to engage. He dropped Jenkins with a right hand, pounced with several strikes on the ground, and the referee stepped in. Really good performance from Artem.
After the fight was stopped, he went to the cage and addressed Dana White, saying “Didn’t I promise you a good fight? A Russian-Irishman always keeps his word.”
WINNER: Lobov via TKO in the first round
-They recapped the fight, with lots of just praise on Lobov. Dana made the right decision bringing him back into the fold. McGregor expressed his pride in Lobov’s performance.
-For the next fight, McGregor chose David Teymur to face the other fighter White brought back, Johnny Nunez. That means the final opening round bout, expected for next week’s episode, will pit Jason Gonzalez against Abner Lloveras.
-As they went to a Team Europe training session, McGregor gave Teymur a lot of respect for his skills. He called for Teymur to be aggressive in this matchup in his striking attack.
-For Nunez, he talked about how much he’s learned already this season, and said this matchup with Teymur was the one he wanted. Faber said Nunez hasn’t been a standout on their team, but with Nunez being a wrestler and having a very different game than Teymur overall, he expected a tough matchup.
-After some typical backstage final thoughts, it’s on to the fight, and conspicuous by his absence is Teymur’s season coach, Conor McGregor. This gets played up for some drama, as hinted last week. Dana White ultimately has them move on, with the Nevada Athletic Commission making them start the fight despite McGregor not being there.
FIGHT TWO: DAVID TEYMUR VS. JOHNNY NUNEZ
ROUND ONE: Teymur looked to be the aggressor early, working inside to land a few strikes. Teymur got in a solid kick. Nunez missed a strike. He landed a right hand after eating a body kick and then shot in. Nunez landed a good knee. Teymur shucked him off. He scored a takedown of his own off a knee and started throwing heavy strikes. Nunez covered up and tried to work to his feet as Teymur continued throwing. He got up and fired out a knee. Teymur hit him back with another. Teymur landed a few more hard strikes before separating. Nunez then came back ahead and dropped Teymur with a big left hand that knocked him off balance, and he dropped down into his half guard. He tried to advance and Teymur turtled, then walked up the cage. Sanchez somehow gave up his back standing, but got turned back into Teymur, who landed several hard knees to the body. Nunez then scored a trip takedown. Nunez passed through to half guard and then quickly to mount. He lost mount back to half guard, but got it back again easily. Teymur again escaped the mount without taking much damage. Nunez scored a few strikes to the body and continued working from the top. He wasn’t doing a ton, though, and ate a few elbows from Teymur before the round ended. Close, close round, could easily be scored either way given how much Teymur did in the first half and how much Nunez did in the second half of the round.
ROUND TWO: Nunez scored first in the round with a short combo. Teymur landed a hard body kick. They briefly clinched, then Teymur landed another body kick. Teymur continued to work the kicks as Nunez tried to step in. Teymur landed several hard body strikes. Nunez shot in but Teymur sprawled and worked to defend. He got brought to his knees, but easily worked back up. Teymur landed a nice jumping knee to the body. They clinched, and Teymur’s attempted trip failed and planted him on his back. Nunez passed and tried to get in an even more advantageous position. Nunez wasn’t doing much in terms of offense on the ground, but held position nonetheless. He wound up passing to mount with 95 seconds left, but again Teymur easily break free back to half guard. Teymur got his back to the cage, then got to his knees and back up to his feet. He attacked with a few strikes. He went high with a kick that was blocked. He landed a hard body kick, then got in a knee as he initiated a clinch. He missed a kick out of a clinch, then landed a few strikes late. Again, could go either way. Looks like we’re getting a third round.
ROUND THREE: McGregor made his way in to the training center. Nunez rushed in and Teymur sent him down to the ground. Teymur landed several strikes as Nunez turtled up and covered up. He tried to work back to his feet as Teymur picked spots. He finally got up and Teymur took his back standing. He turned into him and they traded knees while jockeying for position. They were warned to improve or they’d be separated. The ref then stepped in and did just that. Teymur landed a nice jumping kick and sprawled as Nunez desperately shot in. Teymur held a front headlock. Nunes tried to shoot, then got hit with a big kick as they stood again. Teymur hit another kick on the clearly gassed Nunez. They traded shots and then clinched. Nunez went for a throw but didn’t get it. They separated after Nunez tried for a headlock. Teymur went for the jumping kick again. He grabbed a headlock and brought Nunez down. Nunez finally got out and wound up on top. He passed to side control. Teymur rolled to his knees. Nunez took his back and got hooks in. Teymur rolled to give him mount, then escaped to half guard. Nunes threw a couple of strikes, but just rode the top position out, staying on top even as Teymur nearly scrambled out before the horn. Probably Teymur’s fight here, but he gave Nunez the last minute and a half.
-Before the decision, lots of commentary thrown out on the final round and the fight as a whole.
WINNER: Teymur via unanimous decision
-Team Europe’s now got five of eight winners, and Team US will have one more shot to get a fourth name in the mix as Gonzalez meets Lloveras. That fight will happen next week, and then the eight winners deemed to have the best performances from this opening round will be slotted into the quarterfinals.
-That’s all for tonight! We’ll be back next Wednesday for another episode of TUF as we continue moving forward into December’s Finale event on Fox Sports 1.