Last night the UFC kicked off their third instalment of The Ultimate Fighter, and if the hype surrounding the show is any indication it appears its going to be the best season to date. Unlike the two previous seasons, this marks the first time the shows two coaches, Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock...
Last night the UFC kicked off their third instalment of The Ultimate Fighter, and if the hype surrounding the show is any indication it appears its going to be the best season to date. Unlike the two previous seasons, this marks the first time the shows two coaches, Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock have a real genuine dislike for one another. Based on the lack of drama last year, the UFC has decided to spice things up and use the Ortiz/Shamrock feud to guarantee they pull down huge ratings for Spike.
Dana White made it clear to both coaches before the fighters arrived that he wants their hatred toward one another during the show kept under control, which will ultimately allow for the focus of the show to be about the fighters. This truce only has to last until the conclusion of the season because Shamrock will finally get his long awaited rematch with Ortiz in June. White also pointed out theres a number of changes that will be introduced in season 3, there will be no more event challenges, every fighter will have to fight at least once, and there will be a fight on each episode beginning tonight. Previously, fighters were able to advance to the semi-finals without ever having to fight, not so anymore, now each fighter will have to fight in the preliminary round in order to stay on the show. Something else new for this season, instead of Marc Laimon being the grappling instructor and Peter Welch helping with the boxing, Ortiz and Shamrock were allowed to bring in their own assistant coaches. Titos brought in Dean Lister who is one of the best submission fighters in the world, and his kickboxing trainer Saul Soliz. Meanwhile, Shamrock brought in a nutritionist & strength coach, so the obvious edge would clearly favour Team Ortiz, as his fighters will learn wrestling, striking, and submissions compared to Shamrock who will be relying on his experience and knowledge of leg locks.
During the light heavyweight and middleweight evaluations, Ken preferred to observe from a distance while Tito got right into the mix and worked out with the fighters. Overall, this years crop of fighters are the most experienced in the history of the show, and represent the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. Probably the most notable fighter is Team Quests Ed Herman, although its worth noting that Kendall Grove is presently part of the Team Punishment training camp helping to prepare Tito for his upcoming fight against Forrest Griffin on April 15th. The common theme among the fighters before they were selected to either team was that they would rather train with Ortiz. Afterwards, some of the fighters selected by Shamrock raised concerns about the fact they were not going to be trained in all the various disciplines (jiu-jitsu) of MMA, compared to what Tito was teaching his team.
The first match of the season featured middleweights Kalib Starnes (Team Shamrock) against Mike Stine (Team Ortiz). Starnes is a well-rounded fighter with good submission skills, and Stine is a Golden Gloves boxer, whose two weaknesses were wrestling and grappling. The strategy Ortiz outlined for Stine was to keep the fight standing and under no circumstances pull guard. Interesting enough, Stine did just that (pull guard) and his awkwardness on the ground was apparent right from the beginning, as he had a difficult time keeping Starnes in close to him to lessen the effect of his blows. With Starnes mounted on Stines back and raining down punches, John McCarthy called a halt to the fight in the 1st round. After the fight Ortiz brought his team into witness Stines post-fight reaction, so they could get a sense of what losing felt like. Only time will tell if that move will help change the tide, as next week the light heavyweights will be featured, and Tito vows he will not lose 2 in a row to Shamrock.