After three weeks of The Ultimate Fighter, it’s been all Team Chandler. All three of Michael Chandler’s fighters on season 31 have come up victorious, defeating the competitors on former two-division UFC Champion Conor McGregor’s squad.
This week it was Austin Hubbard from Team Chandler that went the distance against Aaron McKenzie for a unanimous decision victory. Hubbard’s striking skills both on the feet and on the ground earned him the victory, nearly finishing McKenzie during the first round and continuing to control the fight in the second round.
Veterans shine against prospects on The Ultimate Fighter
Along with Team Chandler’s success has been another trend – the experienced vets are always winning. This season of TUF is marketed not only as “Chandler vs. McGregor,” but also prospects vs. returning veterans. The prospects are often lesser experienced talents that have not reached the UFC before. The veterans, on the other hand, are former UFC talents that are looking for a spot back on the promotion’s roster.
McGregor’s team is made up of up-and-comer talents, while Chandler is coaching the more experienced squad. Hubbard, who was successful on this week’s episode of the show, is looking to pave a path back into the UFC after previously having a seven-fight campaign in the promotion.
Earlier episodes provide fast finishes
Previous weeks in TUF had a lot of talking. Why? The fights were rather quick. This week marked the first episode where a fight went the full distance. In previous episodes, no more than a round was needed for a winner to be determined.
The season started with a lightning-fast win, as Roosevelt Roberts stopped Nate Jennerman in mere seconds. Roberts had a seven-fight UFC stint from 2018 to 2021, departing the roster after going winless through three appearances.
Another quick finish came the week after, as Cody Gibson caught Mando Gutierrez with a knee in the first round, forcing a finish on the ground shortly thereafter. The fight put Gibson two wins away from re-entering the UFC, a promotion he earned one win through four appearances in from 2014 to 2015.
Can Team Chandler go perfect on The Ultimate Fighter?
Can Team Chandler do a clean sweep? Probably not. There are still five more weeks of the quarter-finals, meaning there’s a long way to go before the team can say they pitched a perfect game.
Next week will provide another chance for Team McGregor to get on the board. The team’s Trevor Wells, a prospect with a record of eight wins and three losses, will take on Timur Valiev.
Valiev had a short UFC run from 2020 to 2022, earning two wins through four fights. He only has one UFC loss on his record, coming against Jack Shore last year (he was stopped by Trevin Jones in 2020 as well, but a drug test that detected marijuana for Jones caused the bout to be overturned to a no-contest).
This fight was scheduled to happen on the second week of the show but was delayed after a cold sore caused Wells to fail his pre-fight medical test. After the slight delay, their fight will air next week. Also on that episode, a cameo from UFC welterweight Stephen Thompson will happen.
At the end of the day, this show is not only building to its finale but also a fight between McGregor and Chandler one day. When that fight will happen, exactly, we’re not sure. It has yet to be booked, and McGregor’s re-entry into the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) testing pool means that we might have to wait the better part of six months before he can be seen in an octagon again.
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