'The Ultimate Fighter 28: Heavy Hitters' Episode 3 recap

Episode 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter 28: Heavy Hitters” opens with focus on Team Whittaker’s Anderson Da Silva, who meets Team Gastelum’s Justin Frazier in the second heavyweight quarterfinal later in the episode.

Da Silva was the first overall pick in the competition, and that’s likely due to his decorated kickboxing background. The veteran of GLORY and various other kickboxing organizations is working to adapt his skillset to MMA, and head coach Robert Whittaker is mentoring him on how to best implement and effective strategy on fight day.

The terrifying Silva is essentially the antithesis of Frazier, who was the last heavyweight pick from head coach Kelvin Gastelum and has already been struggling in the competition. The American has had to cut some training sessions short because he’s not in proper shape, and getting himself as prepared as possible is a key element to his pre-fight preparation.

Coach Gastelum says he’s impressed with how Frazier is looking in the lead-up to the fight. He notices a “total transformation in his attitude,” and coach Gastelum is feeling much better about his fighter’s chances than when the fight was made. Frazier calls Da Silva the “best striker in the house,” but he feels his wrestling is going to be a huge advantage for the fight.

The night prior to weigh-ins, the Team Gastelum coaching staff arrive at the TUF House to assist Frazier with his weight cut. Frazier is “a few pounds” over the heavyweight limit, but he said the fact the coaches came to help him is hugely motivating as he attempts to shed the final pounds.

At the official weigh-in, Frazier (266 pounds) and Da Silva (240.5 pounds) step on the scale. Frazier comes in at exactly the heavyweight limit, giving him a 24.5-pound advantage over his opponent. An intense staredown follows the weigh-in.

Fight day arrives and it’s finally time for Frazier and Da Silva to head to the TUF Gym for their fight. They finalize preparation in the locker rooms before heading to the octagon for the third overall fight of the season.

TEAM GASTELUM’S JUSTIN FRAZIER (10-2) VS. TEAM WHITTAKER’S ANDERSON DA SILVA (3-0-1)

Round 1 – Frazier charges forward with a big left hand that tags Da Silva. He pushes an off-balance Da Silva to the canvas and is in top position within four seconds. Frazier starts to fire off ground-and-pound to the body and to the head. Da Silva is simply hanging on and trying to survive the storm. Frazier is keeping his composure and unleashing a steady stream of offense. Frazier is warned by the referee to keep more active, and that’s when he postures up with some heavy strikes. Da Silva, who is now cut open from some of the shot, is making no attempt to sweep or stand up. That allows Frazier to settle in and work his top game for the entirety of the one-sided round.

Round 2 – Da Silva is very cautious to begin the round. Frazier jumps in with a looping punch, but it’s easily evaded. Da Silva lands a front kick and a right hand. Frazier simply charges forward with his head down and Da Silva desperately tries to keep away. Frazier briefly pushes Da Silva against the fence, but the Brazilian turns the position and breaks free. Frazier is utterly exhausted, but he builds enough steam to shoot in for a takedown. Da Silva denies the initial entry, but Frazier turns the corner and manages to get the fight down and land in half-guard. Da Silva is helpless from his back and Frazier is doing just enough to keep top position and avoid being stood up. Da Silva finally tries to isolate an arm from on bottom, but Frazier easily slips out. Frazier rides out top position for the remaining minutes of the fight and clearly wins the round and fight.

Justin Frazier def. Anderson Da Silva via unanimous decision

Frazier successfully pulls off the biggest upset of the competition so far by knocking off the top overall pick. He said he knew he could win and felt he’s been overlooked after a poor performance in the fighter evaluations to kick off the season.

“Anderson was the number one pick and I was the underdog all the way through this fight,” Frazier says. “They did not expect me to even be close. I was the last guy to get picked. I had a horrible display on coach’s evaluation but yet when it came time to fight I showed up and I beat the number one pick. It was my athletic ability and my ability to follow the game plan. The game plan came from the best coaches and the staff all the glory goes to them regarding that.”

The victory moved Team Gastelum to 3-0 in the competition so far. Naturally, coach Gastelum is thrilled with the positive start for his squad.

“We got the ball rolling, I am so happy and we are really motivated,” Gastelum says. “We are setting the tone for the rest of the season. We are feeling very confident, really confident in our fighters and our coaching ability. I think our coaches are doing a fantastic job and I think that has a lot to do with it to.”

Once the aftermath of Frazier vs. Da Silva wraps up, the fighters return for the next fight announcement. With control of fight selection, coach Whittaker selects his No. 2 pick, Julija Stoliarenko, to fight Team Gastelum’s No. 8 pick, Marciea Allen, in the second women’s featherweight quarterfinal.

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Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 28: Heavy Hitters” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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