Here we are, three episodes into The Ultimate Fighter 29, and the focus, shockingly, remains on the fights.
That’s likely to change in the coming weeks, but in “Enter the Rhino,” TUF 29’s third episode, the focus was once again simply on the fighters, and the fight. This time out, it was Ryder Newman, the eponymous “Rhino,” up against Tresean Gore. And while he didn’t exactly gore Newman, Tresean certainly had his way with his fellow middleweight.
Opening up the episode, however, was a look back at Liudvik Sholinian’s unanimous decision win over Mitch Raposo last week. The bantamweight tilt put Team Volkanovski up 2-0. Raposo, meanwhile, let it be known that losing didn’t sit well with him. That’s no doubt true for all of the competitors this season, but let’s face it: only two (one per weight class) are going to win. That said, there’s always the possibility of an injury necessitating a fighter coming back. Stay ready.
Probably the most captivating segment of TUF 29’s third outing was the glimpse viewers got of Newman and Gore’s home life. Gore spoke of sleeping in his car outside his gym, with no heat and a window that wouldn’t roll all the way up. He implored his wife to leave him during his lowest moments; she chose instead to stand by her man. Newman showed some smart business acumen — in addition to training, he runs a cleaning business with a half-dozen or so employees. He’s also taking classes as well.
The other standout moment from TUF 29 came when Gore tried to get a little inside info on Newman from Miles Hunsinger. Hunsinger, a teammate of Newman at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, was having none of it. Not that it mattered in the end. Come fight time, it was all Gore.
It what was billed as a grappler vs. striker match-up, Newman just couldn’t get his wrestling going. Not a single takedown was scored across two rounds, and really, just one attempt came close. That transpired at the end of the first round, but Gore stuffed it. Even he wasn’t entirely sure if the attempt had landed or not, questioning his corner about it between rounds. But he’d won the frame, and in the second, began opening up more, landing some big shots.
Newman fired back a few of his own, but leg kicks were piling up, and he was showing the damage. By the end of the second round, Gore had clearly won the decision.
The loss puts Team Volkanovski at an 0-3 deficit, unlikely to sit well with featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski. That will likely lead to some shenanigans between coaches next week, with previews showing Volkanovski ribbing Brian Ortega about taking selfies. It’s hard to get excited over childhood taunts, but episode three continued a strong trend for TUF 29. Even the Ultimate Fighter flashback strayed from stupidity and instead highlighted Uriah Hall’s best-ever TUF knockout of Adam Cella.