It’s time for another rundown on The Ultimate Fighter. After last week’s off-week, we return this week with a highly intriguing episode, which features UFC Bantamweight Champ T.J. Dillashaw joining Team Alpha Male to coach the Team U.S.A. fighters. It’s a situation made all the more awkward given what we now know of Dillashaw’s exit from TAM. Let’s get to tonight’s episode!
-In the “previously on” clips, they get into McGregor’s warnings to Faber about Dillashaw, saying Dillashaw’s Faber’s enemy and that they should be fighting each other. That’s going to be the theme on this episode, unsurprising given the episode title is “Snake in the Grass.”
-It’s been two weeks since they were on the air, and the last fight has completely left my brain, but Saul Rogers got the win for Team Europe to even things up, and this week we get Mehdi Baghdad against Julian Erosa. Baghdad believes he knows exactly what he’s going to do in the matchup as well.
Baghdad: “I want to cut him in half like when I cut my filet mignon.”
-Baghdad says McGregor’s been a “really, really, really good coach,” and that he makes fighters “really happy to fight.” Baghdad thinks he’s the best fighter on the show overall.
-Dillashaw joins Faber’s team to help show the Team USA guys some new techniques, and it shifts us into the thematic base of the episode. Faber gives the cliffs notes version of the Duane Ludwig/T.J. Dillashaw/TAM issue. Dana adds in comments about how much McGregor’d been “riding” Faber about the fact that Dillashaw split time with TAM and Ludwig’s camp in Colorado. Dillashaw said he was expecting McGregor to make comments, but that it’s not bothering him. It’s absolutely intriguing to see this play out in these interactions now knowing that Dillashaw is essentially persona non grata at TAM after joining his new team in Colorado.
-They keep showing the hallway interactions between McGregor and Faber this season, which have been entertaining. McGregor’s taking some liberties and pushing buttons to get a rise out of Faber in a somewhat playful manner, and Faber’s got a calm and cool enough demeanor to deal with it.
-At weigh-ins, they’re waiting around to do a photo shoot, and McGregor starts needling Faber some more. He says Dillashaw isn’t actually “with” the team, and keeps talking. He kept going, telling Faber that people just run him over, and that Dillashaw is there for his own benefit.
McGregor: “He needs to realize what’s happening. That someone is infiltrating his gym and his training, and trying to take what he has. He took a coach, he took his gym name, and now he’s looking to take, probably, Urijah’s last hope at a big fight.”
-McGregor starting heating the back and forth up by saying he’d beat both Faber and Dillashaw together, and latched on when Faber said they don’t get tired that it was a dig against Chad Mendes after he lost to McGregor in July. McGregor went on about loyalty, and said he doesn’t respect those that “bite the hand that feeds them.” One of the guys said they couldn’t sit there and let McGregor talk shit about Dillashaw, and he asked “you gonna do something about it?” Which led to Cody Garbrandt stepping in, saying “I’ll do something about it,” and shoving McGregor before they cut to black. Commercial break hook!
-Back from break, the teams separate McGregor and Garbrandt, and after some more expletive laden back and forth, McGregor started laughing maniacally. More back and forth came in between McGregor and his coaches towards Garbrandt and then Faber. McGregor told Faber he needs to realize what’s going on because he looks “like a pussy” letting it happen.
-Dillashaw strolled back in, saying he was back getting coffee while all that was going on, and that’s why McGregor took the time to say things about him. But true to his word, McGregor still had plenty to say to Dillashaw in person.
McGregor to Dillashaw: “You’re with Duane? [Faber] took you out of college and you just ditch him? You ain’t still there. You pretend you’re still there. That’s up to him (Faber) to man up and realize that. Duane came in and helped house for a week, and you went and ran off with him.
Faber: “Hey, I recruited this guy out of high school”
McGregor: “Yeah, and he ditched you! So man up. Man up and f***ing recognize. Man up and recognize. That f***er has a belt. He came in and took your shit and got out of there.”
Faber: “I’d rather fight you, to be honest.”
McGregor: “Where the hell are you going to fight me. I’m fighting Jose. I’m fighting big, you’re down here.”
Faber: “Hey, I fought Jose Aldo.”
McGregor: “Yeah, and you got your ass whooped. Your whole team got your ass whooped by him. Chad got his ass whooped and I whooped Chad last week.”
-That continued for a bit until McGregor said Dillashaw still eats with Duane and is thus the enemy. They were finally broken up with the crew wanting to do a photo shoot.
-Dillashaw and McGregor went back and forth some more after the photo shoot, and Dillashaw said he has a real belt and doesn’t need McGregor’s “fake-ass” belt. McGregor got in the last word, saying, “You know who doesn’t have it? Urijah, the man who brought you up.”
-On the way back to the house, the European team talked about why they stayed quiet and let things play out as it didn’t really have anything to do with them. The U.S. Team essentially said something similar in that it was pretty much the coaches against the coaches.
-On fight day, the Team Europe guys decide to dress up with sunglasses on in McGregor fashion. Baghdad said he’s representing Arabic people around the world and his home country of France in this one. In Faber’s final prep for Julian Erosa, he tries to stress how there’s only ten minutes for the fight here. Erosa said he’s looking for the finish at any time in this one.
FIGHT: MEHDI BAGHDAD VS. JULIAN EROSA
ROUND ONE: Baghdad moved forward with some early leg kicks. Erosa landed a couple of hard strikes from awkward angles that caught Baghdad off guard. Baghdad walked him down and connected on a hard combination. Erosa landed a leg kick and ate a counter from Baghdad. Erosa landed a hard body kick and blocked a counter strike. Baghdad landed a hard overhand strike as Erosa went for a leg kick. Erosa’s left his hands down quite a bit in the bout. Baghdad connected on another two-punch combo. Erosa grabbed a clinch briefly and landed a knee. He scored a front kick to the face. Baghdad barely missed on a few strikes in combination. He connected on a couple more as he backed Erosa up. Erosa started blocking a bit better and landed a few hard jabs. Baghdad tried to swarm but both missed on some strikes. Erosa tossed out several front kicks to the gut. Baghdad rushed in, but didn’t connect on anything. Erosa circled out and landed a right. Erosa connected on a hard jab. Erosa tossed out a few punches off a kick. They traded strikes. Baghdad grazed him with a kick. Baghdad landed a knee late. Probably Baghdad’s round.
ROUND TWO: Erosa tried to establish a jab, but Baghdad cracked him with a combination. McGregor yelled out to Baghdad that Erosa was only throwing single shots. Erosa picked up his pace a bit but got hit with a hard elbow. Baghdad missed on another hard elbow attempt. Erosa landed a nice uppercut to the body. Baghdad again got in a combo with a high kick starting it. Erosa landed a few short strikes. He tried to press Baghdad back, but Baghdad moved back in with a right hand. Erosa finally put together a decent combination. Erosa pawed out some strikes trying to keep Baghdad at distance. He avoided a strike, then came back in with a knee. He got in another combo and circled out. Baghdad missed a few strikes. Erosa got in another left and a knee. Baghdad threw an ineffectual elbow. He landed another as Erosa tried to jump in. Erosa connected on a combination. Erosa landed another combination. He got in a hard right hand, then an uppercut, then a front kick to the face. Baghdad landed a hard right hand with a kick behind it. Erosa rushed him with a combination. He got in a front kick to the body and clinched at the horn. I’d give that to Erosa and call for a third. Entertaining fight through two at any rate.
-No third round, and this is going to cause a stir. If Erosa was given the first round there will be lots of disagreement, and I think he won the second, so giving it to Baghdad would be the wrong call as well. There should have been a third. Both coaches believed their guy won.
WINNER: Erosa by majority decision
-That’s a really surprising result, as I don’t think Erosa should have won the first. He definitely won the second, but that first round seemed stronger for Baghdad. It was a hard fought fight, though, and both guys did a lot in the cage.
-Faber thought it was a big win for Erosa, and he was proud of Erosa’s demeanor in the face of Baghdad’s trash talk beforehand.
-In the hallway before the fight announcement, Faber brought McGregor a pair of U.S. flag flip-flops as a gift.
-Fight announced for next week: Thanh Le vs. Martin Svensson.
-We’ve got another episode in the books! Tune back next week for our report on episode 7.