The second episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Europe vs. Team USA kicked off right where the premiere left us, with the two teams having been decided by the preliminary bouts to get into the house.
There had been a lot of talk about Conor McGregor's approach to coaching ahead of the series, and as soon as his team was established 'The Notorious' rounded up his troops to give them the low down on his role for the season.
"The coaches I'm bringing in are coaches that I have trained with for many years, so you're going to get really good training," began the interim featherweight champion.
"Me personally, I'm not trying to coach anyone of you. Everyone is here for their own benefit. Forget Team Europe and forget Team USA, there are no friends in this business. You are either here to win or you are simply a filler, however I would advise you to all find comfort among each other in this situation because this is about making it to these fights fresh and that is it.
"Your hard training should already be done. You should already have your sparring and rounds done. It's about keeping loose and getting through your fights now. We're all here on our own journey, as am I, so you come in here and handle your business, you don't need anybody to hold your hand."
Team Europe seemed to take to McGregor's flow training well in their first session, and while Urijah Faber noted some weaknesses that his team had to work on, both introductory sessions seemed to go well. The following day, UFC president Dana White surprised the cast by announcing that he would bring back two unsuccessful competitors from the elimination fights in an effort to make the next round of fights more exciting.
"The fights to get into the house were awesome and I felt like some of the decisions were questionable," claimed White on the broadcast. "I hate when I see good fighters being left behind. So I wanted to give the coaches the opportunity – if you could pick one fighter, who would you bring back?"
In front of the two teams, White revealed that McGregor would bring back his SBG teammate Artem Lobov who lost out to Mehdi Baghdad in a close decision that many felt deserved a third round. Faber choose to bring back Johnny Nunez despite his first round loss to Ryan Hall in the opening bouts. 'The California Kid' outlined his belief that Nunez's division one wrestling pedigree could be useful to the team due to the common belief that Europeans struggle in that particular area.
White highlighted how the quarterfinals of the tournament would work given that there will now be nine successful fighters coming through the next round of contests.
"Just to understand, there will nine fights now there are usually eight fights to make it to the quarter-finals," he told the assembly of fighters. "You will be judged based on your performance, so I will pick one guy who will not make it to the quarterfinals. One person, based on their performance, will not go to the quarterfinals.
"Think about that, it's not just about winning, it's about performing. I'm looking for guys who want to fight, I'm looking for guys who want to perform, I'm looking for guys who want to be world champions – that's what this thing is all about."
While more witty exchanges between the two coaches feature in the episode, Urijah Faber played a strong hand to get things under way having won the coin toss to determine the first pick, as he pitted jiu-jitsu phenom Ryan Hall against unbeaten Swede Frantz Slioa.
The thoughts of Team USA regarding Hall's bout were quite obvious given that they named him 'The Wizard' after witnessing his grappling prowess. Team Europe seemed confident that if Slioa could keep the distance and control the limbs of Hall as he tried to attack his legs, he could comfortably win the fight.
When the action got underway it appeared that Slioa's game plan was working quite well, but at the same time, Hall was a lot more competent on the feet than some might have given him credit for considering his isolated grappling training for so many years. The American circled and through out shots as Slioa looked to keep him on the end of his jab.
Just over a minute into the contest, Hall dived for his opponent's legs and immediately began attacking. Slioa tumbled, rolled and grabbed attempting to stop the submission assault of Hall. The scramble between the two lasted nearly a minute before Hall locked in another devastating heel hook to claim his place in the quarterfinals. In doing so, after banking another first round heel hook, Hall marked himself out as one of the favorites in the competition.
The episode finished with Urijah Faber picking next week's bout that will pit Team USA's Chris Gruetzemacher against Team Europe's Sascha Sharma, with the American coach insisting that he thought Sharma was a little overwhelmed by being on the show.