The third episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 18” begins by reminding us that Julianna Pena shook up the competition last week by upsetting the experienced Shayna Baszler.
We are also given a second look at Ronda Rousey’s mean face after she interprets fellow coach Miesha Tate’s celebration as an act of arrogance toward the fallen Baszler. After gaining control of the next fight pick, Tate selects Chris Holdsworth to take on Rousey’s Chris Beal, who is nursing an injured hand.
Coach Tate arrives at the fighter house bearing gifts following Pena’s victory. She has brought Pena something called a butter-fat milkshake. As off-putting as that sounds, Pena is nonetheless ecstatic. I’m not kidding, either. That is absolutely the first time I have ever heard a fighter make noises akin to a crack-infused Baby Bop.
Tate also brings Baszler a piece of chocolate cake in an effort to demonstrate that there are no hard feelings. A grateful “Queen of Spades” embraces Tate and says thank you.
“Shayna is a friend of mine. When I first got into this sport, Shayna was who I looked up to,” says Tate. “One of the hardest things I’ve had to do in this sport was corner against someone whom I idolized growing up. My smiles were in happy victory for our team and for Julie.”
Baszler explains that Rousey truly won her over with how she reacted as a coach to the loss. The veteran also tells Tate that the UFC bantamweight queen has treated her well and has her back, even in defeat.
Rousey gives her team a talk the next day, addressing Baszler’s loss and telling them they need to control their emotions and live in the present when they step in the cage. She also refers to herself as a “cold, calculating, confident c---,” which is awesome.
“Rowdy” reiterates to Beal that she has total confidence in him, and he begins training for his fight with Holdsworth, revealing that he hopes to keep the fight standing in spite of his injured right hand.
During Team Tate’s training session, Cody Bollinger tells assistant coach Bryan Caraway that someone has leaked Tate’s preferred women’s matchups to Team Rousey. Bollinger suspects Pena, but Pena immediately denies the accusation, calling it “the stupidest f---ing thing” she’s ever heard. Soon thereafter, Pena points the finger at Modafferi, who shares a bedroom with Team Rousey. That does not fly, however, as everyone knows that Modafferi is a “f---ing samurai” and would never do such a thing.
Holdsworth reveals that he has always loved the martial arts, inspired first by action films starring the likes of Jean Claude Van Damme and then Royce Gracie’s dominance in the early UFC events. Tate hopes Holdsworth will use his reach to keep Beal at bay before closing the distance and looking for a submission.
Back at the house, Holdsworth and Pena flirt by the pool, and Pena later apologizes to Modafferi for trying to implicate her in the matchup situation the day prior. Later, Duke announces that she was simply giving Raquel Pennington a hard time and just happened to guess the matchups.
“There is no conspiracy,” Duke says. “I’m being honest with you. There is no secret list.”
Beal previously battled cancer in his leg and at one point even faced amputation. Though he previously hated running, Beal says that he now runs six miles every day and is grateful that he has the tools to do so. Much like his upcoming opponent, Beal’s brother was also shot to death, and he hopes to work hard in order to give his son a better life.
The fighters and coaches venture to the Red Rock Resort to watch UFC Fight Night 28, and things get heated between Rousey and Tate at the bar. It is unclear how much alcohol has been consumed, but I would venture it at least qualifies as “medium.” Rousey calls her coach, Edmond Tarverdyan, to join the party, and he gets up in Caraway’s grill. Tarverdyan is still very upset about Caraway’s ancient Twitter threat to knock Rousey’s teeth down her throat. The situation diffuses, and both fighters later make weight.
The night before his fight, Holdsworth makes a Level 9 mistake by showing his roommates the hand-written letter Pena gave him before his bout. The boys have a middle school-esque laugh as Anthony Gutierrez reads it aloud in a nasally tenor.
The fighters are now in the cage, and both men gauge distance with a jab. Beal eats a stiff, long right hand that backs him up, followed by a sharp low kick, but Rousey’s fighter cracks him back with a hard left hook. Holdsworth shoots in and hits a trip, but Beal rolls him over and backs out of his guard. Tate’s fighter again lands with a long right hand and then a left hook. Beal stuffs a takedown attempt, but he is having trouble closing the distance to land his punches. Holdsworth connects with another right straight, and Beal hits the canvas. Tate’s charge pounces and locks up an arm-in guillotine, forcing Beal to tap out and handing Team Rousey its second consecutive defeat.
Pena shrieks like a banshee from the bleachers. Rousey looks like she might throw up.
“Chris was doing everything well. He was just hesitating,” Rousey says. “When someone is a longer fighter, you can’t wait for them. He was waiting to counter when he should have been initiating.”
As the victorious Holdsworth looks forward to some Pena-prepared victory enchiladas, his opponent sits dejected in the other locker room. This is Beal’s first taste of defeat, but he vows to stay positive and learn from the setback. Tate retains control of the pick and chooses Modafferi to face Team Rousey’s Jessica Rakoczy next week.