Sherdog.com’s Guide to The Ultimate Fighter

By Scott Holmes Apr 7, 2006
So here we are at season three of The Ultimate Fighter.

I'll be the first to admit that I've been very surprised by this show. Anyone with any knowledge of television and how exposure works had to know that it would help bring outside interest to the sport of mixed martial arts. That being said I never thought that it would explode the way it has.

I have more women asking me about the UFC now than anyone else — and that's a bit strange since usually women ask me for my number.

What I really didn't expect was that the talent would be so strong. I, and just about anyone else who's been watching the UFC for a dozen years, did not expect to see these newbies do so well so soon. I was a bit guarded since I had watched friends of mine toil for years just so some guy could show a little flash on a reality show and end up in the octagon.

BUT then we saw guys like Diego Sanchez (Pictures) and Forrest Griffin (Pictures) come out and prove their worth and now after two seasons it's fair to say that there are more than quite a few fighters poised to become the next big name in the game.

All of that leads to this being the most exciting TUF season to date. For those new to the sport — or show — you will be able to see fresh fighters grow into champions.

For those of us that get bored easy, we are interested in seeing Shamrock and Tito finish the last chapter in a novel that started a long time ago.

Is all of this new to you? If you don't know what I'm talking about, then let me catch you up.

1. Tito Ortiz (Pictures) is a star that built his career upon pissing off Ken Shamrock (Pictures).
2. Ken Shamrock (Pictures) is a bona fide legend that hates Tito Ortiz (Pictures) because Tito really knows how to get under his skin.
3. Dana hates Tito for business reasons that turned personal.
4. Joanie loves Chachi.

Now that you're all caught up, let's just hope that the feud between coaches won't get in the way of showcasing the new brutes for this season.

Obviously there are a bunch of new guys, half of which weren't introduced in the first episode so I won't waste your time until it's time to talk about them.

First things first, it was great to see that the booze is back in the UFC house! What does that mean for you? Good television my friend. In fact right off the bat someone almost lost an eyebrow. Again, this is just the beginning, when you're in a house full of wasted dudes trust me, losing an eyebrow is the least of your worries.

Dana White does the thing he always does and gets the guys together to pick teams. Tito wins the coin toss and makes his pick and then we go back and forth until both teams have been decided. One man took great offense that he wasn't picked by either coach until halfway through, so it looks like Ed Herman (Pictures) might be the early antagonist in our show.

Once the teams were picked, Dana announced that this year there will be no "physical challenges."

This decision will strike a blow to all fans of The Gauntlet on MTV or perhaps those that just love Right Guard-sponsored contests. Either way, I'm thrilled since writing about those challenges was only slightly less exciting than watching Mr. Belvedere reruns.

I'm glad to see the changes and what those changes mean is that everyone will fight. No one will waltz into the finals without having gotten a W in the Octagon.

Since this was the introductory episode most time was spent dealing with the new coaches and the choosing of the teams. But one thing that all fight fans wanted to see was the training that Ken and Tito would in employ.

Despite being notorious for running a very grueling school, Ken seemed to be a bit more laid back. Tito went right to work by bringing in jiu-jitsu badass Dean Lister (Pictures) and kickboxing coach (and fellow Texan) Saul Soliz. Ken's guys were instructed on diet and technique while Tito was busy ground-and-pounding his team.

So now that you've gotten the basics away let's get down to business.

Tito and Ken are once more subjected to a coin toss and Ken wins the toss. Now Ken's team gets first choice in what match up they want first.

Ken decides to go with a strong fighter in Kalib Starnes. Kalib is a very well rounded grappler out of Canada. Since Ken is also in the driver's seat thanks to the coin toss he is able to choose Kalib's opponent. Ken decides to choose Mike Stine. Stine was apparently seen as a walkover despite being a Golden Gloves boxer. Unless you just fell off the boat you know that boxing ain't meant to be done from your back so you have to think that Kalib is the better ground fighter.

Going into the fight it wasn't hard to see what might happen. Kalib, being the ground fighter, was looking to put Stine down quickly. Stein, feeling that he had the upper hand when standing, looks to put his mitts all over Kalib. In fact, Mike said that he's going to do it the "Stine way" and play him like a piano.

I'm not sure there couldn't have been a more over-the-head-of-TUF-fans reference. Unless a few of you had mothers that required you to read or be involved in piano recitals.

Well, now is the best part: the fight itself. Both guys come out stalking and throwing and then Stine pulls guard. Surprisingly Stine is able to athletically pop out of a bad spot but once he's put against the fence Kalib puts him on his back. From there on out it's Kalib's game as he mounts and stays patient until Stine has to give up his back. Kalib throws some stout punches until the fight is called and the first fight of season three is a done deal.

In the previous seasons it was stupid to try and fight early, why potentially get hurt? Instead this year fighting early and often will get you to the semis quickly and allows for everyone else to destroy each other along the way.

All things considered this should be a really good season of The Ultimate Fighter. I can't wait to see how long it takes for Tito and Ken to have their first love spat and I'm truly excited to see whom the next stars will be.
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