Conor McGregor sent out his team’s brightest prospect and still went home empty-handed.
Kurt Holobaugh (19-7, 1 NC) made it 6-0 for coach Michael Chandler on The Ultimate Fighter 31 as he pulled off an impressive comeback submission win over McGregor’s SBG Ireland teammate Lee Hammond (5-0*). This was a crippling blow to Team McGregor with Hammond the top-ranked lightweight on his squad and Holobaugh the fourth-ranked on Team Chandler.
(*TUF bouts are considered to be exhibitions and the results do not count towards a fighter’s pro record)
Through one round, it looked like Hammond would finally deliver a win for McGregor. The 26-year-old Irishman got the better of Holobaugh in the grappling exchanges, stifling the busy guard of Holobaugh and landing solid ground-and-pound. After taking Round 1, he continued his effective ground work in Round 2, bloodying Holobaugh with his offense.
However, Holobaugh took advantage of an opening to escape from bottom position and reverse the situation. With less than two minutes remaining in the fight, the former UFC fighter went all-out for a guillotine choke that forced Hammond to tap out. The result left a stunned McGregor on his knees cageside.
Chandler and McGregor then shared a tense faceoff in the cage capped off by McGregor giving Chandler a hard shove. UFC President Dana White quickly made his way into the cage to prevent the situation from escalating, but the bad blood is palpable between the two stars who are expected to fight at a future date.
Holobaugh previously competed in two separate stints for the UFC, a one-off showing in 2013 and then a three-fight run from 2018-2019. He joins Team Chandler lightweight veterans Roosevelt Roberts and Austin Hubbard in advancing to the TUF 31 semifinals.
The Ultimate Fighter 31 airs live every Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN+.
Following the season finale, Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler are expected to face off in a welterweight bout at a date still to be determined. However, the matchup is yet to be made official and recent sexual assault accusations against McGregor have left his future competitive status unclear.
The finalists of the TUF 31 lightweight and bantamweight tournaments will also compete for a six-figure UFC contract at the show’s live finale. A date for that event is yet to be announced.
Here is the TUF 31 roster divided by team:
Team McGregor (prospects)
- Lee Hammond (27, 5-0)
- Nate Jennerman (29, 16-5)
- Aaron McKenzie (34, 11-2-1)
- Landon Quinones (27, 7-1-1)
- Mando Gutierrez (26, 8-2)
- Trevor Wells (27, 8-3)
- Carlos Vera (35, 11-3)
- Rico DiSciullo (36, 11-2, 1 NC)
Team Chandler (veterans)
- Jason Knight (30, 23-7)
- Austin Hubbard (31, 15-6)
- Roosevelt Roberts (28, 12-3, 1 NC)
- Kurt Holobaugh (36, 19-7, 1 NC)
Here are the quarterfinal results so far:
- Roosevelt Roberts def. Nate Jennerman via first-round KO
- Cody Gibson def. Mando Gutierrez via first-round TKO
- Austin Hubbard def. Aaron McKenzie via unanimous decision
- Timur Valiev def. Trevor Wells via unanimous decision
- Brad Katona def. Carlos Vera via unanimous decision
- Kurt Holobaugh def. Lee Hammond via second-round submission (guillotine choke)
Here are the remaining quarterfinal matchups:
- Jason Knight vs. Landon Quinones
- Hunter Azure vs. Rico DiSciullo
Advancing to semifinals: Roberts, Gibson, Hubbard, Valiev, Katona, Holobaugh
Eliminated: Jennerman, Gutierrez, McKenzie, Wells, Vera, Hammond