The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber airs on Wednesday, September 30 at 10pm ET on FOX Sports 1.
The end of the last episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber saw an irate coach Conor McGregor erupting at the performance of German competitor Sascha Sharma as he got outworked in the third and final round to lose a decision to American Chris Gruetzemacher.
Sharma started strong early, winning the first round with superior groundwork and a near triangle choke submission, but he tired himself out, and by the end of round two he didn't have much gas left in the tank. Round three was more of the same as Sharma constantly shot for the takedown, but didn't give himself any kind of set-up, so he was easily stuffed and reversed by his opponent.
By the time the final horn sounded, it was clear that Gruetzemacher earned the decision, while McGregor was livid on the sidelines, screaming and tossing his sunglasses in anger, as he launched into an expletive-laden tirade aimed directly at Sharma.
Following that outburst, McGregor will have a very emotional talk with Sharma to kick off the new episode, airing Wednesday night at 10pm ET on FS1, as he lays into his fighter and gives him the brutal truth about his performance and where it all went wrong. McGregor said when the season began that he wasn't going to get emotionally invested in his fighters, but after two bouts and two losses, it's clear he cares a lot more than he's letting on.
Part of that emotion comes out as anger this week, with McGregor tearing through Sharma just minutes after he watched his dreams crumble to dust with the loss to Gruetzemacher. It's a harsh approach, but one that McGregor believes will help mold and shape his fighters into the kind of competitors who want to win the entire tournament, not pretend that they are brothers all working towards a common goal.
McGregor was never looking at his fighters as a team, and going back to his first conversation with the guys who made it into the house, he explained that all the high-fiving and camaraderie is great in theory, but the reality is that they are all there to win, and when it's all said and done, only one guy gets the trophy, the six-figure contract and a future that's jumpstarted into the UFC.
It's the difference of opinion that Faber holds with his guys as he continues to build team unity following Gruetzemacher's win, and he hopes to carry that over into the next fight as well, as he selected Tom Gallicchio to face Marcin Wrzosek from Team McGregor with a chance to go up 3-0 in the overall competition.
Faber is no stranger to building team morale after assembling fighters from his gym into one of the premier squads in all of MMA. Team Alpha Male is considered possibly the best gym in the world when it comes to the lighter weight classes, and Faber is trying to instill a little taste of that with the way he's treating the fighters on his team this season.
As UFC President Dana White will tease this week - Faber is all about the team and Conor is all about the individual and it's only working out for one of them so far.
While McGregor has his own way of handling things, which includes rather harsh criticism of Sharma, the fighters from Team Faber actually begin to feel bad for the German competitor following the loss. Everybody handles defeat in different ways, but the Americans aren't exactly on board with the way McGregor treats Sharma and they will express as much in the upcoming episode.
When it comes down to the fight this week, Faber put experienced fighter Tom Gallicchio up against Polish fighter Marcin Wrzosek to try and give his side a 3-0 lead in the competition. Gallicchio has been itching to fight ever since week one and now he's finally getting his chance in the third fight of the season.
Gallicchio was one of the most seasoned veterans to get a shot on the show this season after amassing a 19-8 record following his debut in 2006. Gallicchio hails from New Jersey, but actually trains full time in California at Team Quest under the guidance of MMA legend Dan Henderson.
Gallicchio is best known for his wrestling and submission game, which accounts for the majority of his victories. Gallicchio has actually pulled off rear naked choke finishes in his last six wins going back to 2010, so he's well-versed in taking the back and locking up the fight-finishing submission.
As for Wrzosek, he comes in with an 8-2 record overall and the nickname of “The Polish Zombie.” Wrzosek actually earned the nickname after getting into an absolute war with an opponent and by the end of the fight they were both covered in blood, so his coach decided the nickname was befitting.
As far as his fight style goes, Wrzosek might be a little more well-rounded than Gallicchio, but he has far less experience overall. Wrzosek mixes things up in his game, whether it's striking on the feet or looking for submissions on the ground. Going up against a hard-nosed American wrestler like Gallicchio will probably mean the Polish fighter will attempt to stuff the takedowns and keep this fight on the feet.
With only two rounds to work with unless it's a draw, Wrzosek needs to stay off his back as much as possible or he risks getting too far behind on the scorecards and watching another win slip away from Team McGregor in the competition.
Can Marcin Wrzosek find a way to get a win for the Europeans or will Team Faber go up 3-0 and take a commanding lead in the tournament? Tune into The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber on Wednesday night at 10pm ET to find out.