The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber: Episode 8 Review‏‏‏


Last week, Team Europe’s Martin Svensson upset Thanh Le to progress to the quarterfinals.

This week’s episode will feature two fights. For the first matchup, McGregor has selected his Straight Blast Gym teammate Artem Lobov (11-10-1) to take on New Jersey native James Jenkins (8-1).

Jenkins earned his place in the house when he got the nod from the judges after a back-and-forth brawl with Brennan Sevin (7-1) in Episode 1. Despite his loss earlier in the season to Mehdi Baghdad – who has since been knocked out of the competition in an upset loss to Team USA hopeful Julian Erosa – Lobov remains one of the top prospects in the competition, a sentiment echoed by UFC President Dana White:

“Artem is the type of striker who is absolutely fearless. This guy literally walks in there, will stand toe-to-toe with you, and drop bombs until he knocks you out.”

As the episode gets under way, it’s straight down to business. Both fighters tip the scales at 170lbs, and the stage is set for another eliminator.

Artem Lobov (11-10-1) vs. James Jenkins (8-1)
As the fight begins, Lobov takes the centre of the cage. Despite having very different fighting styles, distinct similarities can be observed between certain facets of McGregor and Lobov’s games; the wide southpaw stance and the straight back, chin-in-the-air, upright posture to name a couple. Also, the hand fighting. From the jump, Lobov can be seen pawing at the lead hand of the orthodox Jenkins. Both fighters are known as brawlers, but Lobov is really swinging for the fences with every punch here. The Russian Hammer looks the more relaxed of the two fighters and, by the second minute of the fight, Lobov is landing the cleaner shots. Lobov drops Jenkins with a lead right hook a little over two minutes in. He is walking Jenkins down with his hands by his sides now. He looks like he’s going for a stroll around to Lidl pick up some reasonably priced carrots, but he’s actually in a cage lumping the head off some beast from New Jersey. Midway through the round and Jenkins is bleeding heavily from his right eye. The referee stops the action so a doctor can take a look. When the fight resumes, Lobov continues to crack Jenkins with some heavy, heavy shots. It is testament to the American’s chin that he is still standing. With a minute remaining on the clock, Lobov catches Jenkins rushing in. He clips him on the chin with a right and finishes him off on the mat.

Team Europe celebrate a clinical performance from The Russian Hammer. Jenkins demonstrated a lot of heart, but in the words of McGregor, “when Artem cracks you on the chin, heart is not enough”.

After the fight, McGregor chooses David Teymur of Sweden to take on Team USA’s Johnny Nunez. Nunez (5-1) fell at the first hurdle in Episode 1 when he lost by heel hook to Ryan Hall. Nunez, along with Lobov, was gifted a second chance in the competition. To make the most of that opportunity, Nunez will have to overcome Teymur (3-1), a four-time Swedish Muay Thai champion, who defeated Frenchman Thibault Gouti in Episode 1.

Ahead of the fight, there is some minor drama in that McGregor is late for the fight. After 15 minutes, the commission decides they cannot wait any longer and the the fight goes ahead in McGregor’s absence.

David Teymur (3-1) vs. Johnny Nunez (5-1)
There is a feeling out process over the opening minute or so. Both fighters appear nervous and hesitant to trade shots. When the fighters do engage, the exchanges are scrappy and wild. A minute and a half into the round, Teymur completes a takedown. Nunez pops right back up, but a couple of knees to the body send him back to the canvas. Teymur begins to rain shots down on his opponent against the cage. The referee urges Nunez to fight back. Teymur continues to land shots while looking at the referee, hoping for him to step in and stop the fight. The referee allows the action to continue, however, and Nunez gets back to his feet. Teymur lands a few knees against the fence before the fighters separate and take to the centre of the cage midway through the round. When the fight resumes, Nunez lands a left and trips Teymur to the mat. They are against the cage again now, and Nunez tries to work from on top, but Teymur gets back to his feet. Teymur lands a couple of knees from the clinch before Nunez manages to drag the fight back to the mat. Nunez manages to work his way to full mount. Johnny Boy maintains top position for the remainder of the round without a whole lot of offensive output.

As the second round gets going, both fighters still look a little tentative on their feet. Teymur lands three hard kicks to the body of Nunez and winds up with a huge left hand to the body too. Nunez decides he’s had enough of that action to the liver and shoots for a takedown. Teymur defends the takedown, but after a jumping-switch knee attempt, he tries a takedown of his own that sees him end up on the bottom with three minutes remaining on the clock. Again, Nunez dominates position from on top, but he doesn’t offer a whole lot in terms of attack. Teymur gets back to his feet and dominates the final 30 seconds of the round, landing several knees and kicks to the body of Nunez.

McGregor arrives to the gym as the the judges decide it’s one round apiece, and the fight will go to a deciding round.

Nunez lands the opening shot – a right hand – but he appears spent and stumbles against the cage. Teymur returns fire with a couple of strikes of his own, and Nunez slumps to the canvas. Teymur tries to land shots in volume from on top of his grounded opponent, but the referee isn’t convinced Nunez has had enough. A little over a minute in and Nunez gets back to his feet, but he will need something special to recover this round. The referee separates the fighters due to inactivity against the cage. As the fight resumes, Teymur lands an outrageous jumping switch kick to the head of Nunez. The kick rocks the American, but he survives. Nunez manages to get on top in the final minute of the round – and even gets to mount again – but it’s too little, too late. He needs a finish and is unable to get it as the round comes to an end.

Teymur gets his hand raised – a much deserved victory – and takes the eight spot in the quarterfinals. In the normal course of events, that would be it but, since Lobov and Nunez were brought back into the competition, there will be a ninth and final fight. The fighters that remain are 25-year-old Jason Gonzalez (9-2) from California and 32-year-old Abner Lloveras (19-7-1) of Barcelona.

So far, the quarterfinals are comprised of five Europeans and three Americans. Next week, either Lloveras or Gonzalez will enter the mix. At that point, the quarterfinalist deemed to have qualified in the least entertaining fashion will be cut from the competition.

Check back in with next week to see who grabs the ninth quarterfinal spot and who gets sent packing.

Owner/Editor of Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.

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