The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber debuted on Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday pitting American lightweights against European lightweights. Former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber heads the American team, while UFC interim featherweight titleholder Conor McGregor coaches the European hopefuls.
During the first episode, the 32 fighters were dwindled down to 16 during the elimination round of the tournament.
“We have 16 Europeans at 155 pounds. They will fight each other to see who makes it on Team McGregor. Then we have 16 Americans who will fight to see who makes it on Team Faber. Then they will battle to see who wins a six-figure contract with the UFC and a custom Harley Davidson,” explained UFC president Dana White.
The Americans were up first in the elimination round with Idaho’s Johnny Nunez (5-1) taking on Virginia’s Ryan Hall (4-1). Hall, a leg lock specialist, quickly isolated a lower limb and forced Nunez to tap out to a heel hook, earning his spot on Team Faber.
The first match-up between European fighters came next with Sweden’s David Teymur (3-1) taking on France’s Thibault Gouti (10-0). Teymur’s superior striking earned him a majority decision and a ticket onto Team McGregor.
The second American to make it on Team Faber was decided in the third bout. New Mexico native Andres Quintana (8-1) took on Kentucky’s Thanh Le (4-1). Le utilized his diverse traditional martial arts striking to finish Quintana in the opening moments of the second round to earn his place in the fighter house on the side of the Americans.
McGregor’s Russian-born teammate Artem Lobov (11-10-1, 1 NC) took on Frenchman Mehdi Baghdad (11-3), training partner of former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva next. After a competitive opening round, Baghdad won the second frame and got the majority decision.
Seattle’s Julian Erosa (14-2) battled Miami, Florida’s Jason Soares (8-0) in the next match-up and punched his ticket onto Team Faber with a decision win.
England’s Saul Rogers (10-1) faced Dutch fighter Paulo Boer (10-1-1) in the next bout. Rogers out-grappled Boer on his way to a rear-naked choke submission to solidify his position on Team McGregor.
California’s Brandon Ricetti (7-1) faced New York’s Billy Quarantillo (6-1) to determine the next fighter to make their way on Team Faber. Ricetti easily won the first round, but tired himself working for a submission finish. Quarantillo took advantage of his opponent’s fatigue in the second frame and finish the fight with brutal ground and pound.
Sweden’s Franz Slioa (4-0) took on Scotland’s Martin Delaney (10-1) to see who’d become a member of Team McGregor. Slioa logged a submission win to earn his Team McGregor membership card.
Jason Gonzalez (9-2) met fellow American Tim Welch (12-5) in the next elimination round fight. Welch battered Gonzalez in the opening round, but Gonzalez ended the fight in the second frame with a liver kick followed by unanswered strikes.
Abner Lloveras (19-7-1) from Spain squared off against Croatian Vlado Sikic (10-0) to decide who’d take up new residence in the fighter house for the European team. Sikic suffered a dislocated shoulder that ultimately forced an end to the fight.
Next up for the Americans were California’s Mike Flach (7-1) and New Jersey’s Tom Gallicchio (19-8). Gallicchio secured an early takedown and took Flach’s back. He quickly applied a rear-naked choke and tightened it down for the finish.
Swedish contestant Martin Svensson (14-5) and German Mohamed Grabinski (10-1) took three rounds to decide the winner. Svensson relied on his jiu-jitsu advantage in the final frame take the round and the fight.
Poland’s Marcin Wrzosek (10-2) dispatched of Netherlands’ Djamil Chan (9-2) by rear-naked choke to earn his spot on Team McGregor while Germany’s Sascha Nitin Sharma (8-2) narrowly defeated England’s Sean Carter (10-1) to advance in the tournament.
Arizona’s Chris Gruetzemacher (12-1) emerged as the next American to make their way on Team Faber by destroying Washington’s Austin Springer (8-0), while New York’s James Jenkins (8-1) squeaked out a decision wub over Louisiana’s Brennan Sevin (7-1).
First Bout Announcement:
UFC president Dana White gave a coin toss to determine which team would get to select the fight match-up. The coin flipped in the air, rolled around on the ground and landed on Team Faber.