Just when it appeared that Team Faber was ready to carry on the momentum from Julian Erosa's win over Mehdi Baghdad, the Americans had possibly their worst week ever on The Ultimate Fighter, as two fighters nearly came to blows before top rated striker Thanh Lee fell in the next preliminary round matchup to European submission specialist Martin Svensson.
Svensson was fired up from the moment the decision was delivered in the bout between Erosa and Baghdad because he felt the fighters from Team Faber were barely pulling off wins while outpointing the Europeans with none of them actually showing up to “fight.” Svensson erupted in a tirade aimed at Le and anybody else he faced in the competition while warning them all that he was coming to show them what real mixed martial arts was all about.
While the loss in the previous fight only made Svensson want to fight that much more, the rest of the guys from Team Faber decided it was time to celebrate after returning home from the latest win. There's little doubt that Team Faber felt Baghdad was one of the best fighters from coach Conor McGregor's side, so getting a win over him in the opening round of the competition was a huge boost for morale.
But instead of that victory focusing everybody on the team, it sent them into a downward spiral of feeling a little too good in the few days before the next fight took place.
It all started with a tradition Team Faber began after Ryan Hall got his win to start the competition several weeks back. The winning fighter is surrounded by his teammates and they all shake and then explode cans of NOS Energy drink over them like a victory celebration. Needless to say, the latest display of exploding soda cans doesn't impress the fighters from the European side and Artem Lobov is downright annoyed with the whole thing.
"They feel like they need to do something stupid to be remembered," Lobov said. "It is probably the worst way you could be wasting NOS."
Following the NOS celebration, a few members of Team Faber, including Erosa, Chris Gruetzemacher, and Tom Gallicchio, decide to break open a bottle of Absinthe while playing a game of pool, with the losers downing shots of the powerful alcoholic beverage. Before it all starts, Lobov actually warns them to be careful with the stuff, but no one playing the game that night was listening.
As it turns out, Gruetzemacher is terrible at pool and he ends up losing virtually every game he plays, and with each defeat comes another shot. By the time the pool cues get put away, he's imbibed a lot of alcohol, but the drinking debauchery wasn't finished.
Outside, Erosa and a few of the others are discussing the best and worst performances from the show thus far, and when the topic comes up about who had the most boring fight, he immediately points the finger at Gruetzemacher for his victory over Sascha Sharma. When Grutzemacher finally makes his way to the table, Erosa just opens up and tells his teammate that he had a boring fight and by far the worst performance of the season for any of the three winners from Team Faber.
"What I'm saying is I think your fight was the most boring," Erosa said to Gruetzemacher.
From there, things only got worse as Gruetzemacher, in his inebriated state, starts tossing water and then beer into Erosa's face before a chair gets tossed and the two fighters from Team Faber are standing inches away from each other about to throw blows. Thankfully, the fighters from Team McGregor intervene and stop the two from actually fighting, which would have likely ended with both of them being tossed off the show.
The next morning, neither fighter really wants to address what happened, although Gruetzemacher admits that the house is beginning to get to him, and his tolerance for anybody ticking him off is at a minimum. That apparently includes his own teammate Julian Erosa.
Following a whole lot of drama in the house between Team Faber fighters, it's time to focus on the matchup at hand as Le prepares to take on Svensson in the next preliminary round fight.
Before the bout begins, Faber takes his entire team to a thrift store for some shopping so all the fighters from the American side can take a rather frugal attempt to dress like Conor McGregor for the upcoming fight. When the interim featherweight champion shows up in the gym, he can't help but laugh and be impressed that the Americans tried to emulate his style, at least a little bit.
Once the fight begins, it's all business for both sides as Svensson wastes no time looking for the takedown against Le, who fires off a few early kicks that rocket towards the Swedish lightweight's head. While none of the kicks land flush, Svensson gets a real taste of Le's power before finally dragging him to the mat.
Unfortunately, Svensson couldn't do much with the position and with about a minute to go in the round, Le gets back to his feet and nearly finishes the fight. Le comes over the top with a huge right hand that blasts the Swede directly behind the ear and he goes crashing to the mat. Le follows up in an attempt to put him away, but Svensson is able to stay alive until the horn sounds to give him new life in round two.
It definitely paid off, because Svensson wasted no time taking Le down in the second round, and once he put him on the ground, the Team Faber fighter would never rise again. Svensson attacked constantly, going from mount to back control, all the while frustrating Le, who played defense but just couldn't find an opening to get to his feet. Finally, Svensson transitioned beautifully to take the back, lock on a body triangle and then sink in a rear naked choke.
Le had no choice but to tap out and Svensson celebrated as Team McGregor ties up the competition while taking out Team Faber's best striker in the process.
With Svensson's win, McGregor gets back in control of the fight selection, and he goes with his friend and teammate Artem Lobov to take on scrappy American James Jenkins in the next matchup. The other good news about the next episode is that there will actually be two bouts shown in their entirety as the preliminary round matchups get wrapped up before the quarterfinals begin,
Don't miss a minute of the action when The Ultimate Fighter returns next Wednesday night at 10pm ET on FS1.