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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Team Europe finally pulled off a victory last week, and Conor McGregor got to make the fight pick for this week's episode. He chose Saul Rogers to take on Billy Quarantillo, and we'll find out tonight whether or not they can even things up after four fights.
-We kick this week off with Team Europe joking in the locker room about Quarantillo's reaction to getting picked against Rogers.
-Faber said he hasn't seen much on Rogers, but thinks the Englishman gets desperate for takedowns, and believes Quarantillo will succeed by cutting off angles. Quarantillo thinks McGregor picked him because he had his back taken early in the elimination round. However, he thinks he'll prove to them that they didn't actually want that matchup.
-We get reaction to last week's fight from Tom Gallicchio, who is not in a good place after his loss. He questions whether he's got it in him to continue fighting, and doesn't believe he'll actually get another opportunity during this season. That's probably a realistic outlook, as unfortunate as that may be for him.
-Rogers gave some background on himself, including that he had a kid when he was 19. He thinks that he had to grow up fast, and that's why some believe he's older than he actually is, just because of how he comes off.
-During a McGregor session, McGregor was stressing takedowns, and said he believed the ground work is what would bring Rogers the victory in this fight.
-Time for the focus on Quarantillo. He said he grew up fighting, and got hooked on jiu jitsu early. He said he wasn't all that impressed with Rogers in the elimination round, and didn't think Rogers wanted to strike with him at all.
-Faber said Quarantillo had tenacity and works hard, but his technique is lacking and "very far behind." That could be a real problem in this type of matchup, but Faber did add that he's been a quick learner when he slows down and thinks about it. Faber thinks Quarantillo needs to defend takedowns well and get up if and when he gets taken to the ground.
-Prior to the fight, the guys get taken to dinner out in Las Vegas for a break from the grind.
-McGregor's team likes him as a person and a fighter at this point, and he's been quite personable with them to date at the very least. Whether it all translates in the cage or not, that's a part of his personality not always seen when he's "on" in promoting mode.
-McGregor wasn't at the weigh-ins, but his assistant coach Tom Egan was dressed up in similar fashion, which brought comments from Faber.
Faber on Egan: "His head's too proportioned to be Conor."
-Quarantillo's youth and lack of technical experience has Dana White and others questioning him, while Rogers, despite being a young guy himself, is being pegged as the more experienced and sound fighter.
-Chris Gruetzemacher is already having a rough time dealing with his surroundings, and is caught with a serious case of homesickness. He said he hates training just about fighting, and that he likes to train because he enjoys learning things and practicing them.
Gruetzemacher quotes: "Right now, being in here is not fun. It's not."
"Faber doesn't know me, and I don't really know him, other than what his career's done. But it's tough, it's tough having a bunch of guys assume things about you because of what they've seen, when they don't really see you day in and day out."
-Both Quarantillo and Rogers express confidence in themselves and their own games into this matchup, and we get the same final shots we always get in the locker rooms before a TUF fight.
FIGHT: SAUL ROGERS VS. BILLY QUARANTILLO
ROUND ONE: They traded a few shots early. Rogers landed a hard combination after Quarantillo smugly shrugged off a missed punch. Quarantillo came back with a strike. He oddly shot in, much to the chagrin of Faber, and Rogers sprawled and wound up on top in half guard. Rogers landed a bunch of strikes as Quarantillo tried to work his way up. Quarantillo got to his feet, but Rogers stayed on his back standing, and eventually dragged him back down. Rogers went back to work from half guard. He landed a big flurry of strikes. Quarantillo tried to roll for a leg, and used it to stand. Rogers landed a hard knee, then tripped him up again. He got Quarantillo's back with both hooks in and looked for a choke. Quarantillo escaped, but Rogers held top position. Quarantillo covered up in a brief butterfly guard. Rogers postured up and threw a bunch of punches. Quarantillo tried to attack from his back, but Rogers avoided all of it. He wound up in north-south as Quarantillo tried to kick off the cage. Quarantillo eventually got to his feet just before the horn. Close to a 10-8 for Rogers. Quarantillo had an awful round.
ROUND TWO: Rogers beat Quarantillo to the punch on a jab exchange. Quarantillo landed a right. They traded punches. Rogers shot in and scored an easy takedown. Quarantillo tried to attack off his back but that led to nothing. He attacked for a leg, but didn't take advantage when it forced Rogers out of position, leading back to his guard. Faber was yelling out instructions, seemingly knowing how futile that exercise happened to be, but Quarantillo was continued getting mauled on the ground. Rogers kept him down and landed strikes to stay busy. He stood and landed a few strikes before dropping down and getting into mount. Quarantillo gave up his back, but wound up standing. Rogers tried to power him down, but Quarantillo stayed up. Quarantillo shot in, but got immediately reversed and almost mounted. Rogers easily passed to side control. He stayed on Quarantillo and eventually took his back. Quarantillo got to his knees and rolled for a leg again, but Rogers easily blocked the hold and hit him with a bunch of strikes. He poured on punches and elbows. Quarantillo got back to his feet at the horn, but there should be no doubt about this one. Quarantillo just looked terrible in that fight.
WINNER: Rogers via unanimous decision (20-16, 20-17, 20-17)
[JP Reax: It's only slightly surprising that we got 10-8 scorecards from each judge, likely for that first round, but the second wasn't far off. Really as bad a performance from Quarantillo as I can remember one fighter having on this show, and there have been some bad ones. He just looked like he didn't belong in there at this stage.]
-Faber told Quarantillo that he needed to work on his technique or this was going to be something that would happen to him consistently. Faber was confused by the performance after Quarantillo told them he wanted a stand up war.
-McGregor and Team Europe were elated by the dominant performance from Rogers. Honestly, despite a lack of a finish against an opponent not offering up much, it was a good performance from Rogers. He stayed consistently active, didn't get himself in trouble, and did quite a bit of damage while he had positional control.
-More backstage interactions with Faber and McGregor, who continue to needle each other light-heartedly over their respective choices in dress.
-For next week, McGregor chooses Mehdi Baghdad from his team to take on Julian Erosa from Team USA.
-That's all for tonight! Thanks for checking out our weekly report; we'll be back next Wednesday for episode six!
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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