To begin episode three, we are shown shots of the previous two episodes in which eight Lightweights and eight Light Heavyweights make it through the fighting round to get into the house. The highlights of these fights are that: Junie Browning forces opponent to quit; Krzysztof Soszynski only needs seven punches to win and two others may be too injured to continue (great teaser).
We are then teased with rapid shots of Vegas and its chaos. The boys arrive at the house and surprisingly (I’m kidding, obviously) Browning is already drinking and talking elaborately about his crappy childhood. He is even shown drinking Jack straight out of the bottle. We get little snippets of several fighters, each telling a little bit of their history and why they’re there. Soszynski had never been in a fight in his life; he starting training in Jiu Jitsu not long before sending his tape to the show and won his first fight. While the rest of the guys are cooking, they are talking about their injuries — those of Grigoryian and McLaughlin in particularl. Both had CT Scans and both have fractures in their nose. Obviously neither wants to be sent home. But someone wisely chimes in “It’s not broken. Yet.”
The next day, the fighters and the coaches are gathered back at the gym for team selection. But before the process can begin, Dana calls Brian McLaughlin and Karn Grigoryan to step forward. Then he breaks their hearts. Because of the rules of the Nevada Athletic Commission, due to their injuries they are both put on 180-day suspensions — too long to be on the show, so they are sent home…but neither leaves. They kind of just hang around sadly like the girlfriend you just broke up with. Dana doesn’t want to be insensitive, but he tells them they have to leave.
In light of the situation, and after discussing it with the coaches, they bring back Kyle Kingsbury and an unnamed 155 pounder who they already flew home and now they need to fly back. The coach with last pick gets the unnamed. Mir wins the coin toss and opts to pick first. Once the selection process is over, here are the teams (in alpha order):
Since Mir chose the first fighter, Nogueira will choose the first fight. After making their choices, Mir feels he has the strongest team, physically, while Nog is simply looking for teamwork.
Back at the gym for a training session, Mir pontificates on what it means to him to be a coach. He feels like this is an opportunity for him to learn martial arts better, and demonstrates that martial arts are cyclical. You are a student, then an instructor, and then a student again. While he values the teams, he feels that MMA is an individual sport because everyone is fighting for himself. Finally, we meet his coaches: Ken Hahn for standup and Robert Drysdale, for Jiu Jitsu.
Meanwhile, at the house the drunken antics are embarked upon once again. Junie is seen hitting his teammates with a what looks like a school pointer. In a strange moment, he asks Bader to hit him with it and call him Kunta Kinte. He promises to everyone that he will be the entertainment, at which time he climbs the balcony railing in an effort to jump into a tree. In frustration that he’s not getting the attention he wants, he starts knocking shit over. While Krzysztof says he just wants the attention and dubs him the Chris Leben of the show, Escudero thinks it might be his strategy to throw them off and Nover wonders if his parents didn’t love him.
Just when you think his craziness has played out, Junie then lays on the ground by the pool and starts crying. He says it’s hard to be normal when you grow up with such a shit life. In his crying rant, he wonders what he has to live for, which leads Shane Nelson to thinks he’s bipolar as they’ve witness the whole spectrum of human emotions. The last shot of the night is someone throwing a blanket over him passed out in the living room.
The next day, everyone is trying to figure out which Lightweight they’re going to bring back. A lot of Lightweights were hurt so no one knows who it could be. Then we see a mystery man walking into the house… it’s Roli Delgado. The guys in generally seem to like him. Roop shows no concern because he already knows how to beat him.
At Team Nogueira’s training session we get Nog’s take on coaching: he loves to teach, loves to coach. He’s always jumping in with tips. Then we meet the coaches he’s brought in: Daniel Valverde for Jiu Jitsu and Al “Stankie” Stankiewicz for standup (who is 67!). I was a little shocked at Stankie’s age at first. He may be old, but man does he bring energy, and he just commands respect with his presence.
Shortly after, Dana comes in for the fight announcement. Since team Mir picked the first fighter, Nog gets to pick the first fight. He chooses Ryan Bader vs. Tom Lawlor.
At Lawlor’s training session, we learn a little about him and what Mir thinks of his chances. Lawlor is from American Top Team in Orlando. Mir thinks he has a great base and great landing with solid standup.
While Nog’s team is the gym, Soszynski decides to play a prank on Bader by shrink wrapping all of his underwear and socks to his bed. Soszynski says he might be the quiet one, but he’s got ideas. Then they take the WHOLE team’s underwear and shrink-wrap it in a ball. Could it be the beginning of a prank war?
At Bader’s training session, we learn about Bader, as well as Nog’s opinion of him. Bader is fighting out of Tempe, AZ, and has only been fighting for a little over a year. He was a championship-level collegiate wrestler. After college, he got a desk job that didn’t satisfy him and eventually found MMA to be more enriching. While Nog admits that both Bader and Lawlor come from a wrestling background, he feels that Ryan is much more experienced. He claims that Bader is one of the best Light Heavyweights he has.
When Team Nogueira returns to the house, they notice they have things missing. Eventually, they find a big wad of cellophane taped to the diving board. Upon this discovery, they cut it open and find all their missing belongings wrapped inside. It took them 10-15 minutes to get it all out and Nover does not seem to take it well. Once they finish unwrapped, they still can’t find Bader’s stuff, so Primm asks if he checked his mattress. He does and sure enough he finds it all…and declares war. Without even walking in the door, Team Mir is already anticipating a comeback. Soszynski says watching Bader peel his bed was hysterical. Even Primm says it’s a great non-harmful prank. Soszynski is actually looking forward to retaliation… and denies all involvement. Bader says he wants to stay away from it.
Once the weigh-ins are over, Nog makes an appearance at the house. He and the other coaches come over for dinner. From what they guys have said, it means a lot to them, as it shows their camaraderie and support. Nog jokes that he is impressed with their cooking, adding that if they aren’t fighters they should open a restaurant. Bader even sees his presence as a calming effect. Browning on the other hand sees this whole scene and dislikes it — he bitterly calls it gay the way they sit around acting like family. Browning adds the Mir, etc. are his “temporary coaches”, and that his real coaches are back home. Truth be told, it seemed more like he was jealous.
Before the fight, Lawlor feels motivated because he is the underdog. Bader, however, fought his friend as his first fight and had no problem putting elbows in his face. Both seem pretty evenly matched up.
Tom Lawlor v.Ryan Bader
Bader seems more aggressive, throws a few punches, then goes for the takedown but can’t get it. They clinch and separate a couple times. A good left from Bader. Bader goes for the takedown again and gets it this time. While in half mount, Bader nails Lawlor’s ribs a few times as well as his head. Has some decent ground and pound, but you hear his corner calling for knees. Lawlor manages to twist and they are back on their feet. Lawlor comes at Bader swinging and they clinch. Both separate and swing. As Lawlor goes for a jab, Bader takes advantage and takes him down. In half mount, he is constantly trying to swing his hips into full mount. Good elbows from and jabs from Bader. Lawlor persistently tries to pass his guard, but is unsuccessful. Bader is warned for shots to the back of the head, so he punches the ribs instead. Lawlor gets his feet under Bader’s chest and kicks him off. With the new space, Bader lets a huge right fly — and practically knocks Lawlor out on the ground. Herb Dean stops it.
Winner: Ryan Bader via TKO
Post fight, both coaches have their opinions. Mir thinks the fight started as he expected with Bader going for the takedown and Lawlor succesffuly defending. Mir is disappointed with the ending, saying it was a mistake, but it’s ok. Lawlor should’ve exploded when he kicked Bader off, but he just kicked him off giving Bader the room to come in with an explosive punch. Nog was obviously pleased. Bader did everything they were working on and really impressed him. In Nog’s eyes, Bader’s ready to beat everyone at 205. Nog was also happy that everyone was trying to help Bader out and felt the team was tight.
The show finally ends with scenes from next week. No shocker, the drinking in the house gets out of control, and one fighter (Shane Nelson) tries to bait another (Efrain Escudero) to fight. Once again, Junie takes it too far, which forces Dana to step in and make a difficult decision. He chastises the group for watching the idiots of previous seasons, and now acting like those idiots. And thank you, Dana, for giving the preview some great lines to pique our interest:
“You’re lucky you didn’t get killed.” “You’re a great fighter but you’re a jackass when you drink.”
And though it pales in comparison to the rest of the drama, Team Nogueira picks the first Lightweight fight.
** Side note: Sometimes I wish that I didn’t have a clock in the room when I watch this. I hate it that the fight will finally start and when I look at the clock it’s 10:52, thereby telling me the fight doesn’t go past the first round! Sorry, just had to air my frustration! **