The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber: Episode 6 Review‏

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Last time out, Saul Rogers made light work of Billy Quarantillo meaning we now have two members of Team Europe and two members of Team USA in the quarterfinals. McGregor has selected Mehdi Baghdad (11-3) against Julian Erosa (14-2) for this weeks eliminator.

Baghdad has looked like one of the more dangerous fighters on the show from day one when he won a decision over SBG product Artem Lobov. He is a former K1 world champion and a former Muay Thai world champion under the WKBC banner. Baghdad enters the bout as the favourite over an unorthodox striker in Julian Erosa.

At the weigh-in, McGregor does his best to get under Faber’s skin. He targets TJ Dillashaw – who is on the show this week to help train Team USA – calling him a traitor, a weasel, and a snake in the grass. These comments refer to Dillashaw’s choice to continue training with Duane Ludwig, former head striking coach at Team Alpha Male, with whom Faber no longer sees eye-to-eye. McGregor does a good job of pushing buttons, to the point that Cody Garbrandt gets up and tries to shove him, and the two teams almost come to blows.

Interestingly, McGregor’s comments are all the more pertinent given the recent events which saw Dillashaw part ways with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento for Elevation Fight Team in Denver. Faber has since stated that Dillashaw – a long time friend and training partner – would no longer be welcome at the Team Alpha Male gym.

With the handbags put aside, Erosa and Baghdad make weight and the fight is official.

Mehdi Baghdad (11-3) vs. Julian Erosa (14-2)
In the opening stages of the fight Erosa uses good movement and unorthodox striking to outland his more decorated opponent. The American is mixing up his striking nicely and is having success with the jab and the lead uppercut as well as the left hook, overhand right combination. Erosa is also making use of the lead front kick to keep Baghdad at bay. When Baghdad does land, he lands hard. The European is making good use of his Muay Thai background, throwing an array of punches, elbows, knees and kicks. Baghdad’s right lowkick in particular appears to be stinging the American. Baghdad picks up the intensity for the final 20 seconds, with McGregor encouraging him to “be first” as a close first round comes to an end.

Between rounds McGregor reiterates his in-round advice to “be first” and “be aggressive”, while Faber tells Erosa to stick and move rather than stand and exchange with the world class striker.

As the second round gets under way, Erosa is still moving well but is not throwing the same volume or variety of strikes as in the first round. The American is mostly throwing single jabs and making use of the lead front kick; movement and defensive striking for the most part. Baghdad is the clear aggressor now, stalking his opponent and looking to land heavy shots. As we enter the middle portion of the round, Baghdad appears to slow and Erosa is now landing more strikes. Erosa doesn’t throw with the same venom as Baghdad, but he is landing and stifling the Frenchman’s attack. With a little over a minute to go, Baghdad appears to wobble Erosa with a left. Baghdad lands a stiff lead elbow, and Erosa lands a front kick to the face. Both fighters leave it all in the cage in the final 30 seconds, and the decision goes to the judges.

Two judges score the fight 20-18 for Erosa, with the final judge scoring the bout 19-19. Erosa wins by majority decision.

On paper, this looked to be a straightforward win for the highly decorated striker, Mehdi Baghdad, but Julian Erosa did a superb job frustrating his opponent with unorthodox striking and movement.

Having regained matchmaking control, Faber selects slick striker Thanh Le (4-1) to take on Team Europe’s Martin Svensson (14-5).

Check back with SevereMMA.com next week to see who earns the sixth spot in the quarterfinals.