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TUF Season 22 – Episode 10 Re-cap : The Rise and Fall, Rise and Fall, of Ryan Hall

AJ Camacho

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Last week, Team McGregor’s veteran fighter, Abner Lloveras out-worked Team Faber’s Jason Gonzalez in a dominate but plodding two round unanimous decision victory. The win left only two Team Faber fighters in the tournament as the show was set to progress into the quarter-final matchups that would pit team member against team member in a dominate spread of Team McGregor fighters.

This week is another double header and let me be clear. As a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, I have an utterly disgusting lack of objectivity here. For many of us, Ryan Hall is our Great white BJJ hype. His systematic dismantling of each opponent via the use of “sports BJJ” attacks has been the sort of validation that many of us savor. Sure, we already have our Damian Mais and our Masakazu Imanaris but these days, the grappling prodigies in MMA are few and far between. For many of my BJJ friends, it’s the only reason why they have even a glancing interest in this season’s TUF.

The show opens on Chris Gruetzemacher thinking of giving up on MMA. Through a weepy eyed side-interview, he contemplates if all of the struggle and trauma is even worth it all.

Then, it’s revealed that Martin Svensson injured his arm in his bout against Thanh Le. After an MRI scan, a nagging sore arm would turn out to be a broken elbow that Svensson suffered during the then seemingly futile arm lock attempt that Thanh made during their bout.

The news puts “Gritz” back into the game show. In many ways, it’s a poetic matchup, considering it was Artem’s re-entry into the show that created the extra matchup that left an uneven fighter count for the quarter-finals, which subsequently got “Gritz” kicked out for his lackluster victory.

Still some time before the fights. In a move that was sure to make the wives and girlfriends happy, Dana threw a house party for all of the fighters complete with random friendly women in bathing suits that nobody seemed to know. It was a magnificent display that would rival any generic Coor’s Lite ad.

Back to business, Conor discusses Artem’s unorthodox fighting style. Chin up, arms down, but angles upon angles, on top of angles with powerful strikes. All of that against the grappling lead chinned style of “Gritz”.

Fight 1 Re-Cap
Artem Lobov (McGregor) vs Chris Gruetzemacher (Faber)

Round 1:
Chris worked to keep Artem at range with leg kicks, but he would still walk into Artem’s counter strikes. Everytime Chris would come at Artem in his Orthodox stance, the Russian southpaw, would crack him with his impressive style of off angle hooks.

Eating damage by the pound, Chris used the blunt trauma of his face to eat strikes while pressuring Artem into the fence. Gruetzemacher was tenacious, desperately looking for an opening to keep the fight in a dirty clinch against the cage. Chris would land some good shots, but Artem’s sheer volume of strikes would easily outpace Gritz’ efforts.

Round 2:
Gritz came out in an orthodox stance leading away at the southpaw with his jab. His combinations were routine and expected, Artem countering off of each exchange. Artem, seemingly a little more sluggish in the 2nd round, giving up more strikes and making for a close exchange between the two. Off of a lead leg kick, Chris would get caught off balance and hit clean dropping to the canvas. He would recover and get up but from there he would just erode after each punch until he eventually crumbled from a powerful left hand against the fence.

Artem Lobov wins by KO.

In the build up for the Rogers vs Hall fight, we get treated to another Team McGregor cram session in leg locks. With such little time to cover everything, they focused more on preventive leg lock measures rather than counters and late defensive tricks. It’s a sound approach considering the narrow time frame, but it’s clear that if Hall can isolate Rogers’ leg, that the Englishman is fucked.

Fight 2 Re-Cap
Saul Rogers (McGregor) vs Ryan Hall (Faber)

Round 1:
Both fighters came out timid of the range. Pawing and probing their lead hands into each other, Rogers didn’t want to give up an easy leg submission to Hall. Rogers would instead lunge from the outside with power strikes wanting to stay clear out of the takedown range.

The match turned into a strange meta game of range and distance as Hall threw kicks from the outside as Rogers darted in and out from long range never wanting to press Hall against the fence or commit to closing distance. In a rare clinch, Rogers gained double under hooks on Hall, Hall glanced for the rolling knee bar but Rogers would disengage the clinch remembering who he was fighting. Neither fighter took much damage in the round with Saul edging out Hall in the striking.

Round 2:
More outside range fighting until Hall gained the double unders and the clinch. Saul would hit the trip but hit the floor in Hall’s guard, just as Hall had intended. Saul defensively pressured Hall into the bottom corner of the fence to restrict Hall’s mobility in an attempt to negate Hall’s guard before he could pull away and get the fuck out of dodge.

Hall was clearly looking for the takedown shooting for a long range double leg. Hall was clipped hard after the failed double leg and became desperate; lunging, Granby rolling, and doing anything to keep in grapple range against the evasive Rogers. McGregor’s preventative measures would pay off as Saul would skip, hop, and river dance out of Hall’s attempts to rip off his legs.

Hall’s tenacious efforts were rewarded with a handful of clinches, but he couldn’t capitalize on the transition to the back or the follow-up armbar attempt. Each time Hall would roll upside down for a submission attack, Rogers would lean back, retain his posture, and disengage from the tangled flurry of Hall’s limbs. Hall kept re-attacking with intentional failed double leg takedowns to try and get himself buried underneath the hips of Rogers. It would continually place him in the corner with full guard unable to put a solid submission attempt onto Rogers.

Winner by majority decision, Saul Rogers.

Well… shit.

Rogers showed an immense level of self-control only engaging on his own terms. For all of the talk about power versus finesse, it was Rogers who demonstrated tact and skill to win this bout.

Next week will be another double header as the lone American, Julian Erosa, faces off against Team McGregor’s veteran fighter, Abner Lloveras. We’ll also watch the inter-euro incest beating of Marcin Wrzosek (McGregor) vs David Teymur (McGregor).

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Who will Conor McGregor fight next in the UFC?

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Conor McGregor has announced via Instagram that he intends to return to fighting and he even revealed that he had offered to replace the injured Max Holloway in the main event of UFC 222.

He did say however that the UFC rejected the opportunity to have him headline against Frankie Edgar as he was told “there wasn’t enough time to generate the money that the UFC would need”.

With his return seemingly imminent and an already proposed fight with Frankie Edgar falling through here’s a look at the men who could be standing across the cage from the “Notorious One” upon his return to the octagon.

Frankie Edgar

Let’s start with the man McGregor claims he was ready to fight next month, Frankie Edgar.

It’s a fight that has been rumoured and talked about for years now, but has always failed to become a reality and right now I believe each mans future lies elsewhere.

Although I believe Edgar would choose a fight with McGregor over a title fight with Holloway, his next bout should finally be for the real featherweight title, providing he beats Ortega at UFC 222. McGregor on the other hand, is unlikely to want the Edgar fight now given the much more lucrative options at his disposal.

If you’re a fan still clinging to hope that you will one day see this match up, I hate to break it to you but the only place you’ll be seeing this match up anytime soon is on UFC 3.

Likelihood: 2/10

The winner of Ferguson vs Khabib

If UFC 223 goes as planned then we will see a new UFC Lightweight champion. It means Conor McGregor will be without a belt for the first time since December 2015 and it would be no surprise to see him want his belt back instantly.

As a competitor the winner of this fight represents the best the division has to offer. As a businessman the winner of this fight represents the best the division has to offer.

It is the fight that makes sense, but as we know, sense doesn’t always prevail in the UFC. But, the winner of this bout being the next to face McGregor, is a real possibility.

Likelihood: 9/10

Max Holloway

Conor McGregor is no longer the man at featherweight, Max Holloway is.

Does that hurt McGregor’s ego? Maybe. There has been a lot more activity on McGregor’s social media channels about his fight with Holloway. Most notably the “I miss those sunglasses” post. Which certainly has a hint of jealousy to it. Perhaps McGrgeor wants to remind fans of what he can do at featherweight?

Although I think McGregor’s days at featherweight are pretty much over, I don’t think it’s beyond the realms of possibility that we see this fight at lightweight. But I don’t believe this fight is next for either man.

Likelihood: 4/10

Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor have both announced their comebacks in quick succession of each other. Could it mean they’re coming back for a fight this summer? Who knows.

But one things for sure, the trilogy fight will happen. It has the potential to be even bigger than the first two fights and will surely bring in a boat load of cash. Enough to motivate the two rivals to meet in the octagon again.

The fight seems inevitable and it has every chance of being the next fight for McGregor.

Likelihood: 9/10

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Floyd Mayweather UFC

Mayweather Jr. in the octagon has been teased since before his boxing match with Conor McGregor and the ongoing speculation seems never ending.

But it’s wishful thinking to believe that Mayweather Jr. will repay the favour to McGrgeor by competing in his sport.

This sport has taught us to never say never and many of us would have never envisioned McGregor competing in boxing, but here we are. But this is just a whole new level of unlikely.

Likelihood: 0/10

 

 

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Dana White gives an update on the lightweight title picture

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When it comes to the lightweight division there is always a lot of talk with very little clarification. But now it seems Dana White has had enough of waiting for champion Conor McGregor and plans to move on in his absence.

“The Notorious” Conor McGregor won the UFC lightweight title back in November 2016 at UFC 205 where he became the first fighter to hold two belts simultaneously, however, he has not competed in MMA since.

Speaking on Sunday night’s after UFC Fight Night St. Louis UFC President Dana White said “Conor has said he is thinking about coming back in September if he comes back in September that’s almost two years, that can’t happen. It’s not fair to everybody else. Love Conor, respect Conor, love everything he’s done for this company, everybody knows that I say it all the time. The belt would have to move on.”

White also spoke about the two men that would fight for the lightweight belt saying “You do Khabib versus Tony, we’re working on that fight now and if and when Conor comes back he would get the first crack at the title.”

Then when presenter Karyn Bryant pushed for clarification and asked: “So you’re saying that Conor could possibly be stripped of his title?” Dana responded without hesitation “absolutely”.

The news will excite UFC fans across the globe who have been clamoring for the Ferguson vs Khabib matchup which they have been denied on three separate occasions. No date was confirmed for the potential matchup but rumors have been circulating that the UFC is targeting UFC 223 in April.

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Conor McGregor reacts to Khabib Nurmagomedov’s win at UFC 219

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On Saturday night the world watched as Khabib Nurmagomedov dismantled the striking expert Edson Barboza at UFC 219. The reactions were filled with praise for the undefeated Russian fighter. Media members and fans alike were calling Nurmagomedov one of the best lightweights in the world, but there is one man the world was waiting to hear from, UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor. McGregor was silent following the fight between Nurmagomedov and Barboza, that is until Monday morning when he took to Twitter to state his opinion about the Number one contender.

“Truly truly truly get on your fucking knees and beg me,” McGregor wrote on Twitter.  “Otherwise, I don’t give a bollox.  My whiskey is out this year and that’s Diddy bread.” The whiskey that McGregor is referring to is his very own grand that he announced would be coming out following his loss to Floyd Mayweather this past August.

Rumors about McGregor’s return have ranged from him retiring from fighting to live a life of wealth with his family, to expect his return to the UFC this summer. No one really knows if McGregor will ever defend his UFC lightweight belt, but if he is to do so UFC President Dana White has said that it will be against interim champion Tony Ferguson.

Ferguson was also seeking a fight with Nurmagomedov prior to winning the interim belt against Kevin Lee. It is entirely possible that we will see these two battle for the interim title in the octagon before we see the return of Conor McGregor. Of course, these days there are no guarantees in regards to title contention, McGregor and his camp have publically stated that they would like to face Nurmagomedov in his home country of Russia. 

 

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