The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber airs on Wednesday, October 7 at 10pm ET on FOX Sports 1.
It took three weeks into the competition for Team McGregor to get on the board on The Ultimate Fighter, but Marcin Wrzosek got the job done with a unanimous decision win over Tom Gallicchio to give control back to the European side, and coach Conor McGregor doesn't plan on relinquishing it again.
This week’s episode will see the fallout from the last fight, particularly for Gallicchio, who had 28 fights before getting his shot at competing on The Ultimate Fighter, only to watch his dreams disappear after 10 minutes spent in the cage with Wrzosek.
Gallicchio's despair only illustrates the gravity of how important this show can be for up and coming fighters, but also for veterans who have competed for years just to get a shot in the UFC and then come up short when the time is right. Gallicchio is obviously upset, but he's going to do his best to stay positive as he will still be living in the house and training with the rest of his teammates to help them get ready for the remainder of the tournament.
With Wrzosek's win and McGregor back in control, he selects one of his strongest fighters to get the next fight, as Saul Rogers will take on the man from Team Faber who described himself as a mix of Mark Wahlberg and Channing Tatum, Billy Quarantillo.
If there's one advantage McGregor enjoys with his team, it's that most of his fighters have a ton of experience, and are also natural lightweights. While that can play havoc on cutting weight multiple times during the course of the reality show, it gives the Europeans a size advantage in almost every fight, and Rogers is definitely one of the biggest and strongest competitors on the entire show.
Rogers comes to The Ultimate Fighter with an impressive 8-1 record, and he's one of the top prospects coming out of his home country of England. Rogers has an extensive grappling background with a solid wrestling base, which is rare for many fighters coming out of Europe, but he's going to be able to match anybody from Team Faber on the ground.
About a year and a half before he joined the show, Rogers also began training at Straight Blast Gym (SBG) in his hometown of Manchester and that name should sound familiar because Conor McGregor trains out of the Irish affiliate of SBG in Dublin. McGregor's head coach John Kavanagh is the team leader at SBG in Ireland and his training partner and close friend Karl Tanswell runs the gym out of Manchester, England. Unfortunately, Rogers and McGregor have only worked together one time previously before joining the show, but the interim featherweight champion was well aware of Rogers' credentials when he made the team, so it's undoubtedly one of the main reasons he was selected to fight this early in the competition because he's got a great chance of not only winning this fight, but possibly winning the entire tournament.
Ahead of the fight with Rogers and Quarantillo, the fighters will finally get the chance to exit the house for a few hours and enjoy a night out for dinner in Las Vegas with coaches McGregor and Faber.
It's only been a few weeks thus far that the fighters are cooped up in the house, but it's a nice escape for everybody as they get some time away from the same four walls of the house and the four walls in the gym. Unfortunately, the dinner won't be enough for at least one fighter on Team Faber, who is already getting stir crazy by living in the house and being cut off from the rest of the world.
Living in strange surroundings with people you don't know and wouldn't consider friends is tough enough, but having no contact with friends or family while the only mission every day is to eat, sleep, train, repeat -- it's easy to understand why the monotony of it all might get to somebody. It definitely starts to get to one person this week, and if he can't figure out a way to adapt and survive, this experience might go south for him in a hurry.
As for the fight this week, it's no secret that Rogers will be favored to win against Quarantillo because this matchup could be seen as a No. 1 seed against a No. 8 overall just based on experience and the fights they had to get into the house. Rogers is big and powerful for a lightweight, with possibly the best grappling on the show outside of anyone other than maybe Ryan Hall, although the Brit might arguably have better overall wrestling.
Rogers isn't afraid to stand and trade with an opponent either, but after watching Quarantillo's fight to get into the house, he might see this as a golden opportunity to take him to the ground and wrap up a quick submission. Quarantillo won to get into the house obviously, but he gave up a bad position almost as soon as the fight started when his opponent was able to wrap him up and get his back for a large part of the opening few minutes. Quarantillo was able to wiggle free and turn things around to get the win, but if he ends up in the same position with Rogers on his back it could spell disaster.
Still, you can never count out a scrappy fighter like Quarantillo, who clearly understands his role as the underdog in this fight, and that can actually be an advantage going into a fight against a highly touted opponent. Who can forget season 18 when Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate were coaches and the first matchup chosen pit veteran women's bantamweight Shayna Baszler against relative unknown (at the time) Julianna Pena. What resulted was Pena putting on a classic performance to outwork and outwrestle Baszler before getting the win. Pena moved on to win the entire show and there was no way she was the favorite going into the house, much less into the first fight against Baszler.
Quarantillo will try to reproduce that same kind of magic when he faces Rogers this week, with a chance to eliminate one of McGregor's strongest fighters and prove that he is more than just a stunt double for Mark Wahlberg and Channing Tatum.
Tune in to The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber this Wednesday night at 10pm ET on FS1 to find out if Quarantillo can get the job done or if Rogers will keep things under control for the Europeans.