For the first time in the ten-year history of The Ultimate Fighter reality series, two fighters who lost during the season competed for the tournament title on Friday.
Artem Lobov was defeated in the preliminary round of The Ultimate Fighter 22 but was brought back by European coach and friend Conor McGregor. He was originally expected to face England’s Saul Rogers in the finals, but a visa issue kept Rogers from competing at the finale. Instead, American Ryan Hall got the call.
Hall was defeated by Rogers by majority decision during the quarterfinal round, and made the most of his second chance.
The American used kicks to keep the hard-hitting Lobov on the outside before rolling and isolating a leg. Lobov defended the submission attempt, but found himself trapped in another one. Hall took Lobov’s back and applied a rear-naked choke. He looked to be close to finishing, but Lobov worked his way out of danger.
Hall pulled guard in the second frame and controlled Lobov on the ground. He continually attacked the legs of the Irishman, but couldn’t close the deal.
In the final round, Hall quickly rolled for a leg. Lobov defended the submission attempt, but Hall took his back as he worked his way back to his feet. Lobov was unable to shake Hall off his back and ultimately lost via unanimous decision.
“Artem is an incredibly tough opponent. He can knock my teeth out with one shot, and I know it. I did my best with him,” said Hall after becoming the TUF 22 lightweight tournament winner.