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The TUF ratings are in ...

If you've heard all the hype -- and there is a lot of it out there -- this season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 3 is going to be sick. Virtually every interview and advertisement boasts that this is the best one yet.

The brass at UFC probably weren't shocked then, when they learned the ratings for the debut episode of the reality show scored big, according to Nielsen Media Research.

But, after watching the first episode, it's hard to believe that any of these guys can match the likes of Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez and Stephan Bonnar.

Coaches Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz -- and the legendary bad blood between them -- should get most of the credit for the show's impressive start. Because if Mike Stine -- the fairy who could be heard whimpering while getting pummeled by Kalib Starnes -- is any indication of the caliber of fighters this season, it's going to be disappointing.

Get this from the General Manager at SpikeTV, Kevin Kay:

"Season 3 promises to be the best one yet with the intense rivalry between Ken and Tito and an incredible crop of fearless athletes."

Fearless? Not yet. Diego is fearless. These other guys have a long way to go. Let's hope they can live up to the hype ... starting tonight.

Here's a brief description of the show if you are unfamiliar with it:

"Sixteen of the best up-and-coming mixed martial artists from around the world have convened in Las Vegas in pursuit of one goal -- to be named the 'ULTIMATE FIGHTER' and to be given a contract in the Ultimate Fighting Championship(R) organization. UFC legends and bitter rivals Ken Shamrock 'The World´s Most Dangerous Man' and Tito Ortiz, "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy," train and coach the participating light-heavyweights and middleweights. THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER 3 is hosted by Dana White, UFC President. The premiere episode of the thirteen-part series culminated in a first round victory by Team Shamrock´s Kalib Starnes (Vancouver, British Columbia) over Team Ortiz´s Mike Stine (Hicksville, Long Island)."