It’s Wednesday night, and that means we once again get to see what happens when you cram more than one dozen fighters into a single isolated house with nothing to do but eat, drink and train.
Heading into episode 3 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 28, Team Gastelum finds itself with a 2-0 lead after strong performances from Maurice Greene and Pannie Kianzad. Robert Whittaker is looking to turn the tide this week by pitting his No. 1 pick, K-1 and GLORY veteran Anderson “Braddock” SIlva, against underperforming Team Gastelum Heavyweight, Justin Frazier.
We start with Silva tearing up the bags. Coach Whittaker has high praise for his striking, which we see in action as he describes his history of street fighting before turning to kickboxing and becoming Brazil’s #1 heavyweight at 18. He mentions that he fought and defeated Maurice Greene in GLORY, dropping the big man three times.
Whittaker talks gameplans with Silva, expecting Frazier to go for takedowns against the cage. Silva compares their fight to two trucks slamming into each other.
Over at the house, Frazier shares some family photos with Greene, bragging about his wife. His home video shows he and his family having fun on the water in Arkansas. He says his five-year-old son, Brantley, is the whole reason he made the trip to Vegas.
His “rednecked, hillbilly-fied” truck also gets some air time. He mentions that he comes from a line of car dealers and has a passion for tinkering with cars. He’s currently a shop manager at an automotive shop and has to drive to another city, Batesville, to train.
His family history is an interesting one. In addition to his son, who was born premature and had to receive a heart transplant at two years old, he and his wife adopted the latter’s 17-year-old cousin. He speaks highly of his younger boy’s fighting spirit.
Over to Silva, who’s having lunch with teammate PM. The Sao Paulo-born kickboxer’s home video shows him in Rio with his wife and son. He says his hobby is to spend time with his kids, doing whatever they want to do. He talks about his long training camps keeping him away from his family, and just to twist the knife, his home video shows his daughter crying as he drives to the airport to go to Vegas.
Back to Frazier, prepping in the gym. Coach Gastelum says he’s shown “major improvements” over the last week, going from constantly complaining to training hard. Frazier says he was a football player in his youth who got into MMA and kickboxing to maintain his cardio during the offseason.
Frazier embraces the underdog role, acknowledging that while Silva is likely the best striker in the house, he’s confident that he can get the win if he puts the Brazilian on the mat.
Over at the house, Team Whittaker is facing some language barriers. Leah Letson is getting frustrated, apparently preferring to spend time with the more homogeneous Team Gastelum. Juan Diepa is serving as translator, although issues remain. Greene has problems with Michel Batista, whom he believes is faking his issues with English.
One would think that heavyweights would be free of weight cut issues, but we get to see Frazier cocooned in towels in an effort to sweat off the remaining weight. He’s still 1.5 pounds over the night before showtime, but Coach Gastelum is confident he’ll be fine.
In the Gastelum locker room, Greene is mocking Batista. Frazier agrees with his assessment that the Cuban is faking the language barrier. Nothing much comes of that for now, so it’s off to the weigh-in. Frazier weighs in right at the heavyweight limit, giving him more than 25 pounds on Silva.
Some final words from both fighters and their teams, including a letter from Frazier’s son, then it’s fight time. There’s enough time left in the episode for a couple of rounds, surprisingly.
265 lbs.: Anderson da Silva (3-1) vs. Justin Frazier (10-2)
Round one: Frazier scores a takedown within five seconds, just like his coach wanted. On top in guard, landing punches and elbows. Silva not doing much to stand. One minute in. It looks like he’s just holding on and waiting for a standup. Body shots from Frazier. He postures up for some better blows. Two minutes in. Frazier staying busy, Silva staying sedentary. Nice elbows from Frazier. Two minutes to go.
Silva absorbing the damage well so far, but offering nothing in return. . Coach Whittaker looks furious that Silva’s doing nothing to stand up. One minute to go. More big left hands by Frazier, who denies Silva’s attempt to kick him away. Silva survives. 10-8 Frazier.
Round two: Frazier tries to charge in early. Silva fires a front kick, tries to catch Frazier coming in with hooks. Frazier manages to tie up on the cage, eats a big knee and right hand on the break. Swatting right hand by Silva on the counter. Frazier’s tired. One minute in. Frazier shoots off a Silva low kick and takes him down into half guard. Coach Whittaker looks defeated. As before, Silva is doing absolutely nothing to stand up. Two minutes in. Frazier landing sporadic punches. Two minutes to go.
More of the same. Silva thinks about a kimura, abandons it. One minute to go. More of the same until the bell. 10-9 Frazier and Team Gastelum’s last pick has beaten Team Whittaker’s first pick.
Final result: Frazier def. da Silva by unanimous decision
Here’s where we are after three episodes,
Anderson Da Silva
Juan Francisco Espino Diepa
Przemyslaw Mysiala Katharina Lehner
Team Whittaker maintains the pick, setting Julija Stoliarenko against Marciea Allen.
See you next week!