The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber airs on Wednesday, October 21 at 10pm ET on FOX Sports 1.
One of the biggest teasers this season on The Ultimate Fighter has been Conor McGregor's attack on TJ Dillashaw and how he said the current bantamweight champion was already planning an exit from his current gym at Team Alpha Male.
McGregor poked and prodded at Faber just before the show debuted, calling Dillashaw a “snake in the grass,” and this week’s episode is where it all originated.
It's been impossible to ignore the news over the last couple weeks that Dillashaw has officially cut ties with Team Alpha Male to move to Colorado and work with the Elevation Fight Team in Denver alongside top five-ranked welterweight Matt Brown, Clay Guida, Neil Magny and other UFC stars. The timing of Dillashaw's exit comes just before the episode where the fallout pitting McGregor against Team Alpha Male airs.
This week's episode will showcase Dillashaw stopping by as an assistant coach and McGregor sporting a smirk on his face a mile wide as he targets the bantamweight champion and the perception that he already had one foot out the door from Team Alpha Male the moment he started splitting up his camps to work with coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig.
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With Dillashaw in the gym, it gives McGregor the opening he's been looking for to unload on Faber and the rest of his coaches, and it will get intense this week as the interim featherweight champion goes after Faber and the rest of Team Alpha Male for allowing the only UFC champion the team has produced to bolt on them after finding success in the UFC.
"Where's the little snake? Where's the little weasel? Has he got Duane with him?" McGregor says to Team Faber at one point in the upcoming episode.
Needless to say, the tension is palpable and, at one point, things boil over and it ends up getting physical. No spoilers on who is going after whom, but it's a nasty situation that bubbles up to the surface and tempers flare in the worst way possible as somebody goes after McGregor. And it only goes south from there.
With everything that's been teased for this entire season, not to mention the news of Dillashaw leaving earlier this month, the upcoming episode of The Ultimate Fighter will only add to the ongoing saga of the bantamweight champion leaving Team Alpha Male for a new gym.
As far as the fight goes for this week, Team McGregor throws out possibly one of the strongest fighters from Europe, as Mehdi Baghdad takes on Team Faber lightweight Julian “Juicy J” Erosa.
Last week, when the two fighters squared off after the announcement, Baghdad immediately got nose-to-nose with the American and said “I'm going to hurt you real bad.” Obviously that doesn't sit well with Erosa, and after not backing down a bit, Baghdad's words might end up serving as motivation for the underrated Team Faber fighter to try and pull off the upset.
Baghdad is certainly not short on confidence as he gets ready for his second fight of the season after originally eliminating McGregor's teammate Artem Lobov prior to UFC President Dana White giving him a reprieve just after the first episode aired.
"For sure, I'm the best fighter from the show. Nobody is better than me," Baghdad says as he's preparing for his showdown with Erosa.
On paper, Baghdad might be correct in his personal assessment of his skills.
The lightweight fighter is a former RFA (Resurrection Fighting Alliance) champion who joined The Ultimate Fighter on a seven-fight win streak, with all seven of those victories coming with a finish of his opponent. Baghdad is also well known as a former K-1 kickboxer with a Muay Thai pedigree who trains out of one of the top gyms in the world at Black House in Los Angeles.
Black House is the team responsible for former middleweight champion Anderson Silva and former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, so there's little doubt that Baghdad has the goods to go really far in this sport, much less being the favorite on the reality show.
He's obviously best known for his striking, as he can score some of the most vicious knockouts with his hands and feet, but where Baghdad really shines is when he employs his favorite Muay Thai technique - a slicing elbow strike that cuts like a knife and looks like a sickle swinging down on his opponents.
Erosa doesn't have nearly the credentials that Baghdad has walking into the fight, but he's no slouch when it comes to experience inside the cage, and that could give him a much better chance in this matchup than some other fighter from Team Faber who might get intimidated by Baghdad's resume and tendency to look vicious whenever he fights.
Erosa is 14-2 as a professional, training out of Yakima, Washington, with a four-fight win streak coming into the show. Just like Baghdad, Erosa has finished his last four opponents inside the distance with a mix of knockouts and submissions.
Erosa has only gone to a decision three times during his career, and two of those account for the only losses on his record. Considering the kind of blistering pace both he and Baghdad keep during a fight, this one really could be a barnburner, but Erosa doesn't seem to finish as strong late as he does early, so he might want to get this one over with before it potentially reaches a third, sudden victory round. He's already watched what happened to Sascha Sharma after he started strong in his bout against Chris Gruetzemacher but then faded and looked like a shell of himself by the third round.
Erosa has to know that he's better early, while he also has to hope he can catch Baghdad sleeping or possibly that the Team McGregor fighter is simply overconfident and doesn't respect his American counterpart.
Who will win in this battle of Team Faber vs. Team McGregor? What happens when McGregor faces off with all of Team Alpha Male over the defection of their teammate TJ Dillashaw? Watch The Ultimate Fighter this Wednesday night on FS1 to find out!