Episode two of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 22 -- led by coaches Conor McGregor (Team Europe) and Urijah Faber (Team USA) -- gets underway on FOX Sports 1 right where episode one left off: with Team USA in control of the fight pick.
Faber and Co. select Ryan Hall (4-1) to face Team Europe's Frantz Slioa (4-0).
Coach McGregor calls a team meeting and he even has notes! The first thing he tells the contestants is that he's not going to be spending any time coaching them, then insists they forget about making friends or the "Team Europe" concept and only look out for themselves. Way to build a cohesive unit!
It's the truth but still, grease them up and slide it in slowly, don't just ram it home.
The combatants finally arrive at the TUF house and as with each season, they have that star-struck look when they see the pool, basketball court, and general awesomeness of the reality-show mansion. Some of the Americans start to bond and share strategies for toppling their overseas imports.
It's day one of actual training and Faber -- head cheese at the Team Alpha Male gym -- is the exact opposite of McGregor, in that he'll be lacing up the gloves, rolling around on the mats, and chewing some of the same dirt as his eight UFC hopefuls.
Team McGregor gets its turn in the gym and he focuses on mental warfare, insisting his guys work without shirts or pads -- but with MMA gloves -- to simulate what it feels like to actually throw down inside the cage. Interesting approach, but risky when you consider the potential for injury.
We'll see if it pays off as the season drags on.
UFC President Dana White returns and announces he's "shaking things up a little bit." That includes bringing back two fighters who were previously eliminated, which means Dublin's Artem Lobov is back for Team Europe while Johnny Nunez gets resurrected for Team USA.
That leaves us with nine fights instead of eight.
To compensate for this additional bout, White will be judging the performances from each fight and sending someone home if they suck -- a near guarantee when you consider some of the boring bouts of seasons past. Still feels slimy since he's a promoter, but whatever.
Do you wanna be a fucking fighter and blah, blah, blah.
We start focusing on the combatants for this week's elimination bout and learn that Hall makes all kinds of twitchy faces because he suffers from Tourette Syndrome. For him, it manifests itself through uncontrollable facial expressions, like rapid blinking.
We also get a look at his jiu-jitsu background, one that led to a submission win over the aforementioned Nunez. It will be interesting to see if he can apply those same techniques now that everyone will be expecting them. Coach McGregor doesn't believe Hall has the physical stature to handle a brute like Slioa.
The towering Swede -- born to parents who fled from Iraq -- is happy to be fighting first, expects to finish his opponent, and promises to make Coach Faber regret his decision. McGregor says that by breaking Hall, Slioa can also break Team USA.
Let's see if he's right.
155 lbs.: Ryan Hall (Team USA) vs. Frantz Slioa (Team Europe)
Round 1: Touch of gloves and Slioa opens with a hard low kick. 30 seconds in and it looks like the reach could be an issue for the American. He lunges in but Slioa shucks him off. Hall with a pair of kicks that do nothing and he suddenly barrel rolls into a leg lock. Slioa maintains his composure and reverse rolls into the cage, preventing Hall from getting the necessary leverage to secure the tap. That's when "The Wizard" shows that he gives zero fucks about the fence and locks that shit up anyway. Ouch. We appear to have an American (and non-psychotic) Rousimar Palhares on our hands.
Final result: Hall def. Slioa via submission (heel hook)
After the fight, Team Europe looks stunned and Hall promises to break his contestants "one by one," then compares his heel hook to the armbar of decorated judoka Ronda Rousey. Kind of hard to argue based on what we've seen in just two fights.
McGregor insists his fighter was "caught," not beat.
Here's where we stand after episode two:
Billy Quarantillo (6-1)
Chris Gruetzemacher (12-1)
James Jenkins (8-1)
Jason Gonzalez (9-2)
Julian Erosa (14-1)
Ryan Hall (4-1) +1
Thanh Le (4-1)
Tom Gallicchio (19-8)
Johnny Nunez (5-1)
Abner Lloveras (19-7-1)
David Teymur (3-1)
Frantz Slioa (4-0)
Marcin Wrzosek (10-2)
Martin Svensson (14-5)
Mehdi Baghdad (11-3)
Sascha Sharma (8-2)
Saul Rogers (10-1)
Artem Lobov (11-10-1-1)
After the fight, McGregor -- decked out in a nice suit -- tells Faber that he's almost 50 now and should start dressing his age. I guess the Irishman is not a fan of t-shirts and flip flops, but that's how the dudes roll in Cali-forn-I.A.
Team USA retains control of the picks for episode three and Faber sends Chris Gruetzemacher (12-1) into battle against Team Europe's Sascha Sharma (8-2). "The California Kid" claims he picked that fight because Sharma "looks scared." McGregor appears unfazed.
That's a wrap for episode two. See you in seven!