The Ultimate Fighter: Team McGregor vs. Team Faber: Episode 12 Review‏‏‏

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In last week’s penultimate episode of the season, Marcin Wrzosek (10-2) defeated David Teymur (3-1), and Julian Erosa (14-2) overcame Abner Lloveras (19-7-1) to decide the last of the semifinal spots.

The semifinal matchups are as follows:
SF1: Saul Rogers (10-1) vs. Marcin Wrzosek (10-2)
SF2: Artem Lobov (11-10-1) vs. Julian Erosa (14-2)

The first bout sees two teammates go head to head in Wrzosek and Rogers. Both of these guys have looked solid throughout the season and deserve their place in the semis. Pre-fight training is a little awkward given that they are used to training together, but they make the best of it. Both fighters make weight, and the fight is on.

Saul Rogers (10-1) vs. Marcin Wrzosek (10-2)
Ahead of the bout, Rogers outlined a plan to take Wrzosek to the mat and try to grind out a victory through ground and pound. A minute into the bout, after some feeling-out on the feet, Rogers sticks to the game plan and dumps Wrzosek to the canvas. Rogers works from on top as The Polish Zombie tries to back against the fence and work his way back to his feet. Rogers does a good job of keeping his weight on his opponent, however, and when Wrzosek does manage to stand back up, Rogers tackles him straight back to the mat. Midway through the round now, and Rogers is on top in half guard, landing the occasional shot and looking for the opportunity to slip in a choke as his opponent tries to stand. Wrzosek manages to get back to his feet, and the fighters take to the centre of the cage with two minutes remaining in the round. The striking is very tentative from both fighters; low volume and not a lot landing. With less than a minute to go, Rogers catches a leg, and Wrzosek is on his back once more. Again, Rogers uses his weight well from on top. Wrzosek gets back to his feet, but the round is up.

As Round 2 begins, they take centre cage, and the striking is a little less cautious now. A minute in, just like in Round 1, Rogers shoots a double and puts Wrzosek on his back. Again, he uses his weight, lands punches when he sees an opening, and looks for head control as his opponent looks to get to his feet. As Wrzosek stands, Rogers takes him straight back down. A little over two minutes in, and this is a carbon copy of Round 1. Rogers remains on top of Wrzosek, controlling him and landing shots. With 90 seconds remaining, the fight is stopped briefly as Wrzosek’s toe is caught in the fence. He frees it, and the bout resumes. The Polish Zombie manages to stand only to be dumped back down again, except this time Rogers takes his back and gets both hooks in. There’s a minute left but Rogers only needs a few seconds to sink in the rear-naked and force the tap.

Rogers progresses to the finale by way of second round submission.

Next up, Juicy Julian Erosa takes on Artem Lobov. Erosa is relishing the opportunity to knock McGregor’s teammate out of the competition. Meanwhile, Team Europe are determined not to let Erosa eliminate a third member of their team, and Lobov is confident of getting the KO.

Artem Lobov (11-10-1) vs. Julian Erosa (14-2)
The round begins as expected with Erosa using his trademark movement and Lobov trying to close the distance and land a big shot to end the fight. A minute in, Lobov finds what he’s looking for when ‘Juicy’ over-extends on a straight right; Lobov lands a big left hook counter that sends his opponent to the mat. Lobov follows up as Erosa falls back against the cage, but Herb Dean quickly intervenes, and the fight is over.

McGregor is halfway up the cage wall before the fight is even over, and he celebrates the victory wildly with Lobov. There is real camaraderie between the SBG teammates that has been evident throughout the season.

Lobov should have been set to face Rogers in on December 11th, but in a last minute twist it is revealed that Rogers made false statements on his visa application and will now be unable to compete in the finale. The UFC has selected Ryan Hall as his replacement.

So, a fascinating end to an entertaining season. There were a number of very watchable fights, and McGregor and Faber provided banter to keep the viewer invested. A significant improvement on Season 21 and some of the prior seasons which had grown a bit stale.

Check back in with SevereMMA.com later in the week for coverage of the finale.