‘TUF 22’ Recap: Episode 7

By Mike Sloan Nov 4, 2015
This week’s episode of “The Ultimate Fighter” begins with Urijah Faber and Team USA celebrating Julian Erosa’s win over Mehdi Baghdad. The squad is already making preparations for their next man up, Thanh Le, who will lock horns with Sweden’s Martin Svensson in tonight’s matchup.

Meanwhile, Svensson talks to the camera, disgusted and ready to put an end to what he considers nonsensical fighting from Team Europe’s transatlantic opponents.

“The thing is, I’m sick and tired of this America,” Svensson says. “The first fight is cheap-ass leg locks. The second fight, he just dry humps the guy. The third fight, he just dances around. This is not fighting. I hate this stuff. It’s not MMA. If get a fight like this, it’s my worst nightmare.”

The scene switches to the house, where the American combatants are showering Erosa in their traditional post-win NOS Energy Drink shower. Some members of Conor McGregor’s team are sitting at a patio table, watching what they consider to be mere tomfoolery. They speak ill of the ceremony, as well as how much time the Americans spend acting like children when some of them have been drawing penises on their headbands.

A little while later, Tom Gallicchio, Chris Gruetzemacher and Erosa are playing billiards when they realize that none of them have ever tried absinthe, a liquor that has an acquired taste. The trio is doing shot after shot, but “Gritz” and Erosa are the two that are taking it to the extreme. Billiards turn into gambling competitions where the loser has to take a shot; Gallicchio recommends they chase each shot with a beer.

To say the least, the two previous winners on the show become rather inebriated. Once the setting switches to the nighttime in the backyard, Erosa reveals to some of his teammates that he feels Gruetzemacher was the least exciting winner so far and that he should be cut.

Things turns ugly when the two testosterone- and liquor-fueled dudes begin talking trash, declaring who is the tougher of the two. On cue, Erosa stands up and challenges his drinking partner to a fight. “Gritz” begins tossing water and then beer into his challenger’s face. It escalates quickly, but cooler heads prevail, preventing any sort of in-house brawl that would likely result in both contestants being tossed off the show.

After a few scenes where “Gritz” and Erosa make up and are once again cool with each other, “The California Kid” takes the team to Epic Thrift to pick up as many loud suits and outfits as possible, to liven spirits and make fun of the Irishman who coaches the opposing team. To say the Team Faber reps pick out some colorful attire would be an understatement. McGregor sees what the Americans have done after Le and Svensson make weight and loves it, laughing heartily at the site of the hoodlums dressed up like classy hobos.

Finally, after plenty of hot air and bellowing, both the Swede and the American enter the Octagon for battle. The game plan for each combatant is simple: Le needs to keep it standing and kick his foe’s head off, while Svensson has to drag his opponent to the canvas and twist him up.

Once the fight starts, McGregor is imploring Svensson to keep pressuring Le, but the Swede is having a difficult time because of Le’s elusive movement and sharp attacks. Le has a few thwacking kicks blocked, but a right hand nails Svensson on the ear and he stumbles back. Le gets a little overzealous and delivers a ruthless right roundhouse kick to the Swede’s ribs, but Svensson catches his leg and sends him down. From there, it’s all Svensson for the remainder of the frame.

Svensson controls the pace of the fight, crushing Le with his weight. He scoots to side control, switches to Le’s back and goes fishing for the rear-naked choke. Le defends well and is finally able to explode back up to his feet late in the round, where he drills the taller fighter with a missile of a right hand. Svensson stumbles back from the punch and eventually falls, where Le pounces and lands some elbows before the horn saves Svensson. In all, it’s a close round that can be argued for either man.

Le can’t keep things going early in the second because, as soon as he gets close enough, Svensson shoots in, scrambles to Le’s legs and drags him backwards onto the canvas. The submission savant immediately searches for the rear-naked choke again, but Thanh fends it off. After a few scrambles that sees Svensson in mount, side control, on his foe’s back and then back to side control again, Le is worn out. With two minutes left, Le is totally exhausted and can’t get the larger man off of him, eventually getting mounted again. Svensson continues to maul his weary prey, who rolls over and gives up his back. This time, though, Martin is able to sink the rear-naked choke and forces the tap late in the frame, though no official time is given.

“This was the toughest fight so far,” a jubilant Svensson admitted after the fight. “Thanh hits really hard. When he kicked me and I blocked the kick, I thought, ‘If he’s going to [land] this kick, he’s going to kill me! I’m going to die!’ I’ve never been kicked that hard.”

At the fight selection, which is once again controlled by Team Europe, McGregor goes with James Jenkins from the Americans to face off against his teammate from back home, Artem Lobov. Not surprisingly, McGregor tells the audience that he expects a KO win for Lobov.

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