The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber airs on Wednesday, November 25 at 10pm ET on FOX Sports 1.
As the quarterfinal matchups on this season of The Ultimate Fighter get underway, Team Faber's Chris Gruetzemacher is despondent after having his dream ended one week ago when UFC President Dana White determined that he would be eliminated from the competition despite winning his fight in the opening round of the tournament.
With nine fighters moving on to the quarterfinals, somebody had to go, and coach Conor McGregor felt it should be Gruetzemacher, while Urijah Faber believed it was Martin Svensson, who looked the least impressive despite pulling off a submission win over his team's best striker, Thanh Le. Ultimately, White had already made the call in his own mind and Gruetzemacher was given the pink slip, although he will stay prepared just in case somebody gets injured and he needs to be pulled back into the competition.
"I'm always the underdog. I always have to do more," Gruetzemacher says with tears in his eyes this week after his time on the show came to an end without actually losing in the tournament.
But all may not be lost for Gruetzemacher after one of the quarterfinal fighters deals with an injury that was sustained in the opening round that could change the course of the season dramatically before the first fight even takes place. The competitors from both sides have put on some of the best fights in Ultimate Fighter history this season, but those battles take a toll, and with bouts taking place back-to-back over just a few weeks, injuries can easily occur in the strangest circumstances.
One of the fighters who got a ticket punched to the next round will find that out the hard way this week, but will it be enough to force them out of the competition? Or will someone take on an opponent at less than 100-percent with a spot in the semifinals on the line? Will Gruetzemacher get a shot at redemption just days after he was told he was out?
Elsewhere in the episode, White decides that since the fights this season have been so good and the fighters have given so much, he throws a pool party for the competitors and the coaches at the house complete with a barbecue, a DJ and, of course, a few women. It will be a nice change of pace after the fighters have been forced to stare at the same 18 faces in the house all season, with the only difference in scenery coming between the gym and the drive back and forth every day. Needless to say, with a slight touch of freedom comes a lot of excitement from the guys, as the quarterfinals are still five days away.
Once the partying is finished, it's time to move on to the matchups this week, where Team McGregor teammates Artem Lobov and Martin Svensson are set to do battle while Saul Rogers will look to take out one of the two remaining Americans in submission specialist Ryan Hall.
First up this week will be Lobov, who looks to get his second straight finish after putting away James Jenkins when he takes on Svensson, who will undoubtedly start fishing for submissions the first chance he gets in this fight.
Based on their previous performances, Lobov will have a massive advantage in the striking department, where he throws hard, heavy shots from the hip to the head with a punishing style that is unrelenting and dangerous from the first bell to the last. Lobov employs a similar style to McGregor, who has been a teammate and training partner for many, many years. Lobov attacks from strange positions and rarely stands with a traditional boxing or kickboxing stance with his hands held high, but it can easily throw an opponent off if they can't find a way to deal with the unusual power he generates from odd angles. Keeping his hands low also gives Lobov great takedown defense, as he's prepared to stuff a shot from the outside or deal with the clinch against the cage.
Svensson showed in his last fight with Le that he's got a great chin and an iron will, and he'll need both to drag Lobov to the ground and hope he can wrap up a submission before getting tagged. The good news for Svensson is that he's the tallest fighter in the competition, so he has the benefit of reach on his side. He'll need to use that to keep Lobov at range until he can swoop in and try to get a takedown.
In the second quarterfinal matchup, two of the best ground fighters face off, with England's Rogers taking on American Ryan Hall.
Rogers is a brutal fighter on the mat, especially if he lands on top and can posture up with good range to land punches and elbows. He's probably the toughest fighter to deal with on the ground if he's the one scoring the takedown, but the perfect counter to that style is a jiu-jitsu expert who can look for sweeps and submissions from the bottom.
Enter Ryan Hall, who is one of the strongest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters The Ultimate Fighter has ever welcomed through its doors. He's a leg lock expert with a vast understanding of all aspects of the ground game, and there's nowhere he's not comfortable, even if he does get stuck on his back. Hall doesn't have great wrestling, so he might need to look for moves like an inside trip or even a diving leg lock attempt to drag Rogers to the mat. This could potentially be one of the best ground battles we've ever seen on the show if these two fighters take it to the mat.
Two semifinalists will be crowned this week, so don't miss a minute of the action as the final few weeks of The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber get underway.