Find out who won on episode 8 of The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber and more in this week's recap.
What started as a back and forth battle to begin the season has turned into a one-sided performance for Team McGregor, as the Ultimate Fighter tournament careens towards the conclusion of the elimination rounds with two more Europeans punching their ticket to the quarterfinals.
The action all started with McGregor's close friend and teammate Artem Lobov getting the job done against American fighter James Jenkins in the first of two fights that took place this week.
Lobov got a second chance on the show after he was originally eliminated in a fight against Mehdi Baghdad in the elimination round, but UFC president Dana White was so impressed - not to mention the fact that he believed that the two of them should have fought in a sudden victory round - that he was given the opportunity to come back. Lobov readily admits that he probably doesn't deserve the chance, but he's never going to turn it down when the UFC makes him the offer.
"I said I don't think I deserve this but I'm sure as hell going to take it," Lobov said.
Lobov definitely had the advantage going into the season, with his own coaches from Straight Blast Gym in Ireland handling all the training for the Europeans. Lobov has been a crucial part of the team since he first joined after his family defected from Russia to Ireland when he was 14 years old. Now more than a decade later, Lobov is poised to make his push into the UFC and he certainly has the faith of his coach and main sparring partner Conor McGregor.
Before Lobov and Jenkins squared off this week, the Russian-Irishman (as he calls himself) asked Urijah Faber about his assistant coach and teammate Andre Fili and what weight class he competed at in the UFC. Faber confirmed that he fights at 145 pounds, the same weight class Lobov would typically cut to as well, and he thought that would be a fun fight after the show is over. McGregor then chimed in as well and suggested that maybe Lobov and Faber would be even better.
Faber tried to get one up on the interim featherweight champion by saying that they should be the ones fighting, but McGregor got the last word as he dropped the verbal knockout on the Team Alpha Male captain.
"I'll stick you on the undercard of my show and revive your career," McGregor said with a laugh. "You can open up the prelims like you always do."
All jokes aside, Lobov and Jenkins were prepared to do battle, but once the fight started it was clear who the superior striker was in this matchup of knockout artists.
Lobov fights with a very awkward style, similar to McGregor, where he fights with his hands down and throws from the hips a lot of the time, but it was extremely effective and he launched several lefts and rights that clocked Jenkins before he knew what hit him. Lobov opened a large cut over Jenkins' eye that even caused the referee to pause the fight at one point to have the doctor check it out to make sure he could continue.
From there, it was all Lobov as he started measuring his shots and just unloaded on Jenkins, who started to get gun shy once he tasted the Russian's power. Lobov finally landed a straight left that dropped Jenkins coming in and a few hammer fists on the ground was all it took to bring a stop to the fight in the first round. Lobov proved that he belonged in the tournament with a dominant win while picking up the first knockout of the season.
"I think after that performance there'll be no more questions who should be here and who shouldn't," Lobov stated.
With control still in his corner, McGregor then shifted the focus to Swedish fighter David Teymur, who he selected to face off with Team Faber fighter Johnny Nunez.
Nunez was Faber's pick to come back to the show after he was eliminated early by Ryan Hall with a devastating heel hook just seconds into the first round. Faber believed Nunez never really got a chance to show what he could do, and once the fight got started with Teymur it looked like he made the right choice.
Teymur and Nunez battled it out over three rounds in what was likely the best fight of the season thus far. Teymur dropped Nunez early with a liver-shaking knee to the body that put the American on the ground and had the referee peeking in to see whether or not he should stop the fight. Nunez was able to wiggle free and ended up taking Teymur down late in the first round before carrying that momentum over into the second round as well.
Teymur struggled for nearly all five minutes in the second with Nunez pressuring him on top, constantly working to improve his position and never giving the European fighter a second to breathe. At that point it was clear that there was going to be a third round, but the only problem was that Nunez was largely gassed after grinding on Teymur for five minutes and it didn't leave him much in reserve for sudden victory.
Teymur took advantage by stuffing Nunez's takedowns and firing back with hard body shots and good punches that continued to land. Teymur had Nunez hurt again in the third round, with the referee keeping a close eye on the action, but he ultimately made a good no call and let them continue to work for the finish. Nunez was finally able to get free and even land a takedown late in the round, but by that point it was already over.
Teymur got the nod for the third and final round, which gave him the win and he advances in the tournament.
With Lobov and Teymur both moving into the quarterfinals, that leaves only one fight left to go in the elimination round, with Team McGregor fighter Abner Lloveras taking on Team Faber's Jason Gonzalez. They will battle it out for the final slot and then the quarterfinal matchups will be made and one fighter will go home after the coaches and Dana White select which person will be eliminated based solely on performance, even after getting a win in the competition.
Don't miss a minute of that episode one week from today, when The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber returns.