Episode two of The Ultimate Fighter 3 suffered its largest week-to-week ratings drop in the series’ history. Episode three sought to prove that the blip was not a downward trend by having a great lead-in show, UFC unleashed. UFC unleashed showcased five classic fights of the legendary, Royce Gracie.
Ken Shamrock gave his team a break after losing the last battle to enjoy venting their frustration at golf balls on the driving range. There were no lessons to be learnt here; just a show played out for the camera in my opinion. Tito Ortiz played the contrary style by drilling his fighters through a hard cardio workout running the stairs, and doing fireman-carry relays.
Tito Ortiz vs. Ed Herman
Ed Herman’s story was further developed this episode because Tito realized his mistake of not picking the red-headed fighter. Ed was an experienced fighter who wanted to be on Tito’s team but felt slighted being a late pick of Team Shamrock. In a drunken stupor, Ed boasted that he was the best fighter this season. What ever happened to the saying “action speaks louder than words”? Ed Herman obviously never heard of that quote before.
But Ed was not a fighter who could not back up his words. Tito knew this and upped the gamesmanship on Ed Herman. Tito knew that Ed was itching to fight and prove himself. During the fighter selection, Tito deliberately stared down Ed before revealing his choice for Ross Pointon to go up against his middleweight, Kendall Grove. The anguished-look on Ed’s reaction was priceless!
A Well-Conceived Alliance
Alliances had been attempted in previous seasons, and I had been skeptical that any alliance would work in this reality series. Team Dagger, comprised of Kendall Grove and Solomon Hutcherson, certainly proved me wrong. What an ingenious idea to plant a “mole” in the opposing team, while helping each other to advance in the competition. This alliance worked because the members were from opposing teams!
In a competition where you faced off against your opponent, it made sense to have an “inside man” giving you tips on who you should face, and how you should approach the fight. You can be sure that Solomon perceived Ross as a weak target and influenced Kendall to pick Ross this week. Solomon also gave Kendall insights on how Ross liked to fight and what were his weaknesses. It was enjoyable to have my assumptions decimated this episode.
Your Ground Game Sucks
While Kendall was getting lots of help, Ross was basically left on his own to prepare for the fight. It was not that his team wanted him to fail. Ross was not receptive to his teammates’ input. He had decided to not deviate from his original game plan. Ken Shamrock warned him bluntly that his “ground game sucks.” Ross was a brawler through and through but being one-dimensional could land you in heaps of trouble in the octagon.
The middle lull of the show got interesting as we joined Ross on a quest to drop 15 pounds to meet the pre-fight weigh-in requirements with a little over 12 hours left. Ross displayed an eerie calm attitude while his teammates were betting for him to lose the fight. Ross’s tough guy image was validated as he wore a sauna suit, and sweated the weight off in the sauna. We had seen other fighters totally crumble while cutting weight in the past. Ross continued his unorthodox pre-fight routine right after the weigh-in. He immediately bulked back up with sushi, pizza, garlic breads and ice cream; pre-fight food that most fighters conscientiously avoid.
Kendall Grove vs. Ross Pointon
The tale of the tape gave Kendall the discernable reach advantage, since Kendall was a tall, lanky 6 foot 6 inches. Both fighters meet in the center with Ross delivering cut kicks. The tactic showed that Ross was wary of Kendall’s punching range. After a brief stand-up exchange, Kendall did not mess around and shot-in for the takedown.
Ross valiantly stood up many times because he was simply not comfortable being on the ground. At times, Ross looked like a panicky fish out of the water. Kendall was the fisherman that kept Ross in his nets. Kendall held Ross against the fence, scoring takedowns each time Ross stood up. When they were on their feet, Kendall was the aggressor swinging elbows and punches and landing quite a few.
However, Ross had a good chin, and a knock out was not in the cards. In the end, Ross’s inexperience with grapplers forced him to expose his back twice to Kendall; who seized the second opportunity and forced Ross to tap out with a rear-naked choke.
Team Punishment In Control
Team Punishment (Ortiz) was now 2-1 against Team Shamrock. I wondered if Tito would use this to antagonize Ken. Season three fights still have not gone past the first round. Therefore, the producers had to focus a lot more on the private life invasion of the fighters at the residence. The camera man’s quality on this episode were shoddy in some spots; especially the part where Ross was heading out the house to go to the sauna. You have Derek Hoffmann to thank for that!