The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber airs on Wednesday, November 18 at 10pm ET on FOX Sports 1.
The upcoming episode of The Ultimate Fighter could end up being one of the most tension-filled hours of the entire season, with the final elimination round fight, the coach's challenge and UFC president Dana White making the call on which competitor will not continue in the tournament based on performance all going down this week.
First up is the Coach's Challenge between Conor McGregor and Urijah Faber, as the two rivals compete for a stack of cash while also getting the chance to win some money for their teams. As teased last week, McGregor and Faber will be doing some serious target practice - from a helicopter - as they try to one up each other.
As disappointing as it was to McGregor that he didn't get to punch Faber after the season was over, this will at least give the two coaches another chance for bragging rights before the show is over.
Once the coaches finish their flight and competition, it's time for the final elimination round matchup for this season before moving on to the quarterfinals.
Representing Team McGregor will be Spain’s Abner Lloveras, who happens to be one of the most experienced fighters on the entire show. Lloveras holds an impressive 19-7-1 record and enters the show on a four-fight win streak that includes two submission wins. When he's not at home in Europe, Lloveras spends most of his time training in Massachusetts under coach Marco Alvan at Team Link, which is the same team responsible for former heavyweight title contender Gabriel Gonzaga.
Lloveras is a well-rounded fighter, as he’s a former Olympic-level boxer from Spain who also possesses a great ground game with good wrestling and top-notch submissions. Despite a background with a ton of stand-up, most of Lloveras' biggest wins have come on the ground, where he's a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
With a 9-2 record, Gonzalez doesn't have nearly the amount of experience as Lloveras does, but he's got a ton of heart and some very good knockout power. Gonzalez trains out of Millennia MMA in California alongside several top-notch fighters, including welterweight knockout artist Lorenz Larkin and flyweight Darrell Montague. Gonzalez is still fairly young in his career, although he started competing in amateur fights as far back as 2010 before getting wins in his last five fights in a row before coming to The Ultimate Fighter.
There's no doubt that Gonzalez is fighting an uphill battle against someone as experienced and dangerous as Lloveras on the feet and on the ground. Lloveras is the better technical striker, and it's hard to argue against the notion that he's not also superior on the ground. Gonzalez is scrappy and tough to put away, so his best bet in this fight will be Lloveras underestimating him and the American taking full advantage. It's definitely possible for Gonzalez to catch Lloveras in as scramble and surprise him.
If not, Lloveras is going to be a very tough out for anybody in the competition, and Gonzalez will have a lot to do to get a win this week in the final elimination round matchup before the quarterfinals begin.
Once Lloveras and Gonzalez are finished, UFC president Dana White will then reconvene with the coaches to decide a few key matters - most notably, the quarterfinal round fights and which one of the competitors will go home even after a win. This development is due to two extra fighters being brought back earlier this season and performances – not victories - being judged. So ultimately, someone is going to be booted from the show.
The eight winners thus far in the competition have been Ryan Hall, Chris Gruetzemacher, Marcin Wrzosek, Saul Rogers, Julian Erosa, Martin Svensson, Artem Lobov, and David Teymur, with one more joining that list from the fight with Lloveras and Gonzalez.
One of those fighters will get sent home, even after winning, so it's going to be a very tough call between the coaches and White to make the decision. Before the selection gets made this week, McGregor and Faber get into a heated war of words that will be can't miss television, as the two coaches discuss their careers and the disappointment that they won't be fighting when the season is over.
As it turns out, McGregor actually asked the UFC for the fight with Faber at the UFC Fight Night event in Dublin, Ireland as a “warm up” for his bout against Jose Aldo in December at UFC 194. Obviously, the UFC declined the offer and told him no and McGregor actually contemplated not doing this season because he didn't want to disappoint the fans by participating as a coach and then not facing his fellow coach when it was over.
Judging by their verbal sparring match this week, it seems McGregor and Faber were definitely down for the fight, but it's not likely to happen anytime soon, if ever, given the current path their careers are on right now.
Once the bickering comes to an end, White will make his decision about which fighter will be sent home while also naming the quarterfinal matchups. Even without the Lloveras/Gonzalez fight, McGregor has already got a leg up on the competition, with five of his fighters going into the second round with a chance to make it six this week. That means Team McGregor will send at least two of their own fighters against each other to make it to the semifinals.
But never forget those wise words McGregor uttered to his team when the season began all those weeks ago…
"Forget Team Europe and forget Team USA. There is no ‘friends’ in this business," McGregor told his team. “You are either here to win or you a simply a filler."
McGregor's statement to his team will loom large as the quarterfinal matchups get made and the final weeks of The Ultimate Fighter competition begin. Don't miss a minute of this dramatic episode on Wednesday night at 10pm ET on FS1.