The Ultimate Fighter 22 - Ep. 1 Preview
The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber kicks off tonight at 10pm ET on FOX Sports 1.
The newest installment of The Ultimate Fighter will kick off tonight with a special two-hour episode on FOX Sports 1, as 32 lightweights from around the world join coaches Conor McGregor and Urijah Faber in a special Team Europe vs. Team USA format of the show.
The country versus country story has been done several times during the history of The Ultimate Fighter, but this year the catalysts include the interim featherweight champion, who might be the most outspoken fighter on the entire UFC roster, as he goes up against Faber, who is a former WEC champion that has no problem going toe-to-toe with anybody in the cage or on the microphone.
This season of the show began filming just days after McGregor beat Chad Mendes in the main event of UFC 189 in July to take the interim belt. Mendes just happens to be a longtime friend and training partner of Faber's, so that definitely adds an intriguing element to this coaching rivalry that will certainly boil over at some point this season.
The first episode of the show will focus on the 16 elimination fights that took place between the two teams. Unlike previous seasons, the newest installment of The Ultimate Fighter will feature eight elimination fights between Americans and eight more pitting Europeans against each other. Once the final roster of fighters are chosen, then the Americans can focus on eliminating the Europeans, and vice versa, as they attempt to whittle down the competition to eventually perform on the finale card on December 11 in Las Vegas.
Like every past season of The Ultimate Fighter, the competitors joining the show this year come from diverse backgrounds with unique upbringings and paths to discovering mixed martial arts. The variety in the upcoming season is even bigger, with half the cast coming from a long list of countries sprinkled around Europe.
On the American side, some of the notable names to keep an eye on during the inaugural episode include Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Ryan Hall, who joins the series with a 4-1 record in MMA and an impressive resume from his days as one of the best grapplers in the world.
Hall has competed at the highest levels of Brazilian jiu-jitsu while facing a who's who list of top grapplers as well as some of the best mixed martial artists on the planet as well. He holds wins in grappling competitions over Frankie Edgar, Diego Sanchez and former Ultimate Fighter winner Chris Holdsworth, just to name a few.
Andreas Quintana joins the show with an extensive boxing background after picking up the sport at a very young age. He actually had his first match when he was 12 years old. Brennan Sevin is a fighter who would probably get along with UFC commentator Joe Rogan because he's an avid hunter who lives by the philosophy of eating everything he kills and killing everything he eats.
Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson's home team, the MMA Lab, will be well represented on the American side as well, with two of his teammates joining the show this season. Tim Welch is a 12-5 veteran who might look like a professor but who hits like a truck, and then there’s Chris Gruetzemacher, who has to be considered one of the top prospects this season with a 12-1 record and an impressive resume that includes wins over former UFC fighters Roli Delgado and John Gunderson.
On the European side, McGregor will have a mixed bag of fighters for his team once the elimination round is completed, and this group might have some of the best talent The Ultimate Fighter has seen in years.
One of the names that will stand out at the top of the list of Europeans is Artem Lobov, who doesn't have the most impressive record on paper with an 11-10 mark overall, but he will certainly get his coach's attention considering that he trains alongside McGregor at SBG in Ireland and was a big part of the featherweight champion's camp ahead of UFC 189. Lobov served as a sparring partner for McGregor as he got ready for Jose Aldo and he will likely provide the same function for “The Notorious” one’s upcoming fight at UFC 194 as well.
David Teymur is another well-known name on the European side, coming from an extensive Muay Thai background as well as fighting as a K-1 kickboxer in the past. Mehdi Baghdad joins the show after training for the past few years at Black House, where he is a regular training partner for former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and former champion Lyoto Machida.
England will also be represented well this season on the European side, with fighters such as Saul Rogers, who is 10-1 overall and already holds a win over UFC veteran John Maguire, not to mention a victory early in his career over Lobov, who could eventually be a teammate on the show.
All told, 32 competitors will vie for the 16 open spots on the show this season, with the Americans going head-to-head with the Europeans. The fights to get into the house will fill up the two-hour premiere episode as you get to know more about these competitors while seeing the kind of talent on display.
Plus, as an added bonus, watch as McGregor and Faber exchange verbal jabs over the course of two hours, with UFC President Dana White acting as intermediary while the two fighters poke and prod at each other while assessing the talent that will make up their teams for the season.
Don't miss a minute of the action as The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber kicks off tonight at 10pm ET on FOX Sports 1.