TUF 22 REPORT 11/4: Penick’s thoughts on episode seven of “Team McGregor vs. Team Faber” season

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

After another week off last week, The Ultimate Fighter is back tonight to keep trudging along to the Dec. 11 finale event in Las Vegas. Last time we were here, Julian Erosa from Urijah Faber’s U.S. team defeated Mehdi Baghdad from Conor McGregor’s Team Europe, which was an afterthought to the heated camp collision over McGregor’s comments regarding one UFC Bantamweight Champion T.J. Dillashaw.

This week, we get the next fight between Thanh Le from Team U.S. against Martin Svensson. Once again, our weekly report is a rundown of the goings on with random musings and quotes from the episode. Follow along and enjoy!

According to White’s description, we’ve got a Tae Kwon Do guy in Le against a jiu jitsu guy in Svensson. That’s something McGregor believes will be an edge for Svensson in the fight itself. Svensson says he’s sick of the U.S. team, and criticizes each of the performances they’ve seen thus far.

Back at the house, it’s product placement time, as Team U.S. celebrates by spraying Erosa with NOS(TM) Energy Drink.

Artem Lobov quote: “I want to be remembered as the guy that was at least smart enough not to wear a stupid bandana with a penis drawn on it.”

Svensson, a self-professed Bruce Lee fan, says he hasn’t yet been able to make this sport his career, though he’s “this close” to getting that done. He rolled with McGregor during one of the training sessions and sang his praises afterword. Svensson had the entire fight mapped out, from a left kick to a left knee, to bringing the fight to the ground, and working ground and pound until a submission opens up. He says Le will tap from the strikes or a submission, whichever he decides.

Le gives his brief life story. He’s a personal trainer who grew up with TKD as his parents owned a gym. He’s got a child with a woman who lives away from him, but he says his child is his essentially his everything. He’s got a long list of first round finishes, with only one fight making it to the third round, which he also finished. Faber says the gameplan is to keep it standing, find angles, and put Svensson out cold. Le says it’s important to avoid the brawl and “big man game.”

Back at the house, Team U.S. partied it up a bit, and decided to drink some absinthe as one of them hadn’t had it before. The most offensive part of this sequence is a complete lack of appreciation for the proper way to drink absinthe. Tom Gallicchio explained that they started betting shots over a game of pool, which led to Julian Erosa and Chris Gruetzemacher getting massively hammered. Erosa then told Gruetzemacher that he had the most boring fight of the season. That led to a drunken back and forth, with Erosa calling Gruetzemacher out and saying he’d beat them if they fought. It continued, and this was between teammates who had won their previous fights. Gruetzemacher continued throwing drinks and sauces in Erosa’s face, and fade to black as they teased a confrontation. Hey! Drunken embarrassment courtesy of the TUF house!

A sober Gruetzemacher via voice-over tried to defend himself as they moved back to clips of them drunk. Erosa had plenty to say, while Gruetzemacher was even drunker and didn’t have much to actually say at that point.

Saul Rogers stepped in with the best comment: “I know what’s happening now. You’re causing drama between yourselves so you don’t have to fight none of us.”

That lightened the mood and led to the end of the incident. Well done, sir.

Gruetzemacher the next day says it was him letting off steam, and that the house was getting to him. Erosa said he felt Gruetzemacher had it in his head and was afraid that he wouldn’t move on because his fight wasn’t as exciting as others, and only eight will move on. Still, Erosa blamed the confrontation on the alcohol, and they moved on from there.

Moving on with the episode, Faber brought his team to a thrift shop to put together their best Conor McGregor impersonation. He called McGregor the “opposite of what we do out in Cali” because he “dresses like a 50-something-year-old man who just got a hold of some money.”

Faber: “In California, we work our whole lives to not have to wear a suit like this.”

The guys shopped through the women’s section for skinny jeans. James Jenkins noted that he found out he’s a women’s 7. For the guys, they felt it was a break to the monotony of the show. The outfits were purchased for them to wear during the next fight.

White calls this fight the “classic striker vs. grappler” bout, with Svensson looking for the submission while Le wants it on the feet.

In discussing the outfits they’re wearing for the bout, Faber said they’re going to out-dress him for “well under half the price.”

Faber believes Le will be a sure win, and has a significant edge in the striking department, while Svensson believes he’s going to go “straight through” Le.

McGregor got a good laugh out of Team U.S.’s ribbing dress up game. Svensson says he’s been dreaming about this for ten years, and he’s going to “f***ing destroy” Le’s dreams in this one.


ROUND ONE: Le stepped in with the first attack after some tentative opening seconds. Both were hesitant to engage early. Le landed a hard uppercut as Svensson stepped in. He then got tripped up on a leg kick, and Svensson took advantage to score the takedown. Svensson nicely passed to side control, and tried to get to mount, but Le scrambled well. Le tried to attack an arm for a kimura, but Svensson was in half guard on the side of that attempt. Le gained guard briefly, but gave up his back as he tried to sit up at the cage. Le defended as he worked to his feet. Svensson clinched and tried to hold him on the cage, but Le turned him around. Le finally got separation. He rocked Svensson with a right hand and pounced on top with 20 seconds left. Svensson recovered, and Le was only able to score a few late elbows. Big finish for Le, but Svensson takes that first round. Clearly living up to the “striker vs. grappler” label, but Le’s got some defense on the ground, whereas Svensson not showing much of anything on the feet.

ROUND TWO: Faber wanted Le to be more selective in his kicks to the body to avoid getting tripped up again. He opened with a solid right hand. Svensson landed a push kick as Le tried to close the distance. Svensson shot in. He took Le’s back standing and dragged him down. Le was trying to attack his arm without having anything there, and wound up getting mounted. He gave up his back and covered up, but had no urgency to get out. He broke out of a body triangle, but Svensson continued to stay in an advantageous position. He got Svensson back to half guard. He tried to pull off a reversal to no avail. Svensson came back in to half guard once again. Le gave up his back to avoid the mount, but Svensson dragged him back and locked on the rear naked choke. Le gave that one away. Played Svensson’s game and clearly didn’t have the ground skills get himself back to his feet. It took a while to get there, but giving a a submission guy that much time to find position and get a submission makes it only a matter of time.

WINNER: Svennson via submission (rear naked choke)

Svensson said he’d never been hit as hard as Le hit him, and he thinks Le’s got a future. Faber told Le he’s got to commit to the ground game and build up his ground instincts to make the next move in the sport.

McGregor continued to get a laugh at the Team Faber outfits before the next fight announcement. For next week’s fight, McGregor goes with James Jenkins against his own teammate Artem Lobov.

That’s our rundown for this week; Join us next week for episode eight!

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