The penultimate episode of the series wasted no time in getting down to business as audiences were thrust immediately into the third quarterfinal bout between Marcin Wrzosek and David Teymur, a matchup that resulted in an eventful ebbing contest.
There was an eerie backdrop to the all-European contest as the encounter was played out in nearly complete silence. Neither corner pitched in with advice to the two contestants given that they were European stable mates from the beginning of the series.
Despite having the relationship they inevitably built up during their time in the TUF house, Teymur and Wrzosek wasted no time exchanging pleasantries. The Europeans enjoyed some wild encounters in the pocket and the Pole dropped Teymur with an overhand right during the first round. However, Teymur managed to score well throughout the remainder of the round as he landed some solid kicks to Wrzosek's body and rained down powerful shots after he forced the action to the ground.
Teymur's wrestling stalled the pace of the bout early as he took Wrzosek to the ground. Although Wrzosek managed to sweep his opponent, little else occurred of note in that particular grappling exchange. As the fight returned to the feet, the same violence that punctuated the first round was present with Teymur scoring with valuable knees to the Pole's body when they clinched up.
Although McGregor felt that the bout should have been forced to a third, deciding, round, the judges deemed that Wrzosek had done enough over the two rounds to have his hand raised.
Ahead of the last quarterfinal bout between Abner Lloveras and Julian Erosa, 'The Notorious' predicted that he Spaniard would able to "walk down" Erosa and from there his "cleaner boxing" would win him the fight. Faber believed that Lloveras would have a hard time closing the distance against 'Juicy J' and insisted that the American could match the European veteran if they did end up on the ground.
Erosa got his elusive footwork going from the first bell, but Lloveras soon found his range and cracked him on several occasions with jabs and straights in the first half of the opening round. The Team USA fighter gave a good account of himself in the second half of the first, but Lloveras secured an all important takedown in the dying embers, which probably gave him the nod on the judges scorecards over the first five minutes.
Erosa put his shots together a lot better in the second and two minutes into the round Lloveras wore the damage of eating the American's straight punches on his right eye. Although the Spanish stalwart had some success in the final minute of the second round he briefly hit the ground after eating an uppercut from Erosa. With both fighters enjoying spells of dominance in different rounds, there was no surprise when the bout was pushed into a third round.
Lloveras looked visibly drained and despite being able to take Erosa down for brief stints, he backed up quite a bit in the "sudden death" round. Erosa kept up a good pace and landed solidly to the body with looping shots. Although the Spaniard stayed game til the last second, the bout was given in favor of the American.
Clearly unsatisfied with the decision, McGregor claimed that it was "disgraceful" that Lloveras wasn't given the nod. Speaking after the bout, Lloveras contemplated retiring from MMA because he viewed TUF as his "last opportunity" at making a big impact on the sport.
Artem Lobov wasted no time in volunteering himself to be the man to face Erosa in the semi-finals as he approached Dana White after the final quarterfinal bout. According to 'The Russian Hammer', "(Julian) did not win that fight again" and he also pointed out that there is "no need for judges" when he fights.
Lobov's persuasive efforts did not go unrewarded as White revealed that the SBG man would face off against Erosa in the semifinals. Another all-European bout will decide who will meet the winner of Lobov versus 'Juicy J' as Saul Rogers and Marcin Wrzosek were announced as the other semifinal bout.
While Wrzosek and Rogers hugged before their face-off, Lobov brought the same intensity and quick wits that he has demonstrated throughout the series. As Erosa raised his hands for the face-off Lobov told him: "Christmas is over. No more presents."
McGregor instructed Lobov to "sit him down" as they stood for their face off. "He got gifted two decisions, let's sit him down now," McGregor said.
If the semifinal matchups weren't enough to get viewers to tune in for next week's episode, a special guest is sure to shake things up. The teaser for the season finale shows McGregor walking into the TUF gym only to find his December 12 opponent, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo sitting on the Team USA bench. The verbal exchanges between the two have been epic up until this point, so there is no reason why next week's finale will not deliver in the same regard.