The Contender 3 Episode 3

The show opens with a recap of the Codrington win over Brian Vera. The Gold Team now has the power to choose matchups. David Banks was singing the praises of the Gold Team upon arrival at the house and Paul Smith is ready to shut him up.

Max wants an easy fight from Hernandez but being Sam Soliman’s new pupil, Soliman won’t let Hernandez go out like that. Now Soliman wants to fight Max just on principle. This makes Sam Soliman my favorite fighter on the show to date, unseating Jaidon Codrington. Max Alexander is trying to get Banks to call out Paul Smith, mostly because he knows Smith would win and swing the power of choice into the Blue Team’s favor. Ultimate Fighter has “The Hammer.” The Contender has “The Power of Choice.” Just another example as to why TUF is better than this show.

Training

Wayne Johnson has a cold but Pepe is all “your fighting anyway.” Johnson is all “Alright.” That’s why this show is lame. I can’t express just how much this show needs some humor. Scrap the fighters you know don’t have a shot like Miguel Hernandez and Donny McCrary and add a couple of characters that will at least make the show entertaining. I hate how this show takes itself so seriously.

Max calls Sam “5’2″ and awkward.” Max and Banks are plotting their own fights while Paul Smith still sits around with disdain for the whole scheming sentiment. Apparently Smith isn’t sparring. Not sure why he’s avoiding that or why Pepe is allowing it to happen, given that Wayne was told to go two rounds despite his cold.

Deliberation

Everyone on Team Gold wants to fight next. Sam wants to fight Max. Banks felt good in sparring and wants to fight Paul Smith.

The guys enter the ring to find out which fighters will be competing later. Sam Soliman enters the ring, announcing that he will be representing the Gold Team. Max doesn’t look very happy. Sam indeed calls out Max Alexander. Soliman gives Max way too much respect when he says he’s the best on the Blue Team. Sakio Bika should be pissed about that. Soliman has 21 years of fight experience to 4 years from Alexander. Sam wants to hear “Go Gold Team, Go Gold Team, Go!” with 30 seconds left in each round of his fight and says he’ll throw 300 punches in those 30 seconds. I wonder if Sam Soliman still listens to Vanilla Ice records?

More Serious Stuff

Max Alexander calls his wife for motivation. He can’t lose and blah blah blah. I’ve never seen Alexander fight before but he is in trouble with Sam Soliman. The one thing in his favor is that this is a five round fight. Soliman’s biggest asset is his stamina, something that doesn’t really come into play in a five-rounder. Still, Soliman is pesky and throws punches in bunches so he is a tough matchup for anyone. Ask Winky Wright.

Max is way taller than Sam at 6’3″. Sam is officially 5’8″. Max wants to use his reach to keep Sam away. Buddy wants Sam to get inside and swarm Max so he can’t get set to establish that jab. Max’s wife pops in to inspire her beau, as does Sam’s wife. Buddy thinks it takes people seven rounds to figure out Sam’s awkward style, leaving his man in good position against Max Alexander. Max vows to leave everything in the ring.

The Fight: Sam Soliman vs. Max Alexander

Sam is all over the place to start, creating all different kinds of angles. Sam is doing a good job of slipping punches. Soliman lands the latter half of a running uppercut-straight combination. Yeah, Soliman is awkward. The “Go Gold Team” chant starts and Soliman throws punches on cue. A man of his word. Nice. There seems to be a lot of referee involvement.

The second round begins with Alexander waiting to pick his spot. An accidental headbutt cracks Soliman in the head and cuts him. The ref needs to intervene here but doesn’t. He actually calls the headbutt so Soliman stops fighting. The ref never paused the action so Max hits a defenseless Soliman in the face.

The third round features solid action from Soliman. He’s all over Max, giving him no time to set up. Alexander is getting hit and spits out his mouthpiece. The ref stops it to return the piece. Max spits his mouthpiece out again and the ref picks it up but just holds onto it. Where did this ref come from? Max nails Sam with an uppercut that literally lifts him off his feet. Sam is in trouble but doesn’t go down. Alexander wobbles Sam with another shot but Soliman survives the round. After the round the ref tells Alexander that if he spits his mouthpiece out again he’s stopping the fight.

Soliman didn’t finish the third round in good shape. Sam continues the pressure to start the fourth round. Alexander slips and touches the canvas and the ref ruled it a knockdown because he says Max got hit. As the ref counts the standing eight, Sam does some crazy spinning crescent kick across the ring. The ref tells Sam to “get your ass back over there.” Sam is the best. That knockdown ruling seems to put a lot of pressure on Max.

The fifth round begins to a big ovation from the crowd. Max needs to go for a knockout. Pepe wants him to work Sam’s body while Buddy wants Sam to stay low. Max seems to be waiting for another opening to land an uppercut. Sam throws punches from all angles so it’s possible for Alexander to catch him with a fight-changing shot. They wail to end what was probably a very sloppy fight without all the editing.

The scorecards are in. 48-46, 49-45, 50-44 a unanimous decision for Sam Soliman. Sam credited his fitness for the victory and knows Max Alexander will be a good fighter one day. Max is disappointed for straying from his gameplan and letting Sam’s awkwardness dictate the pace. Max said he was exhausted by the end of the fight due to Sam’s pace and conditioning. Pepe tells Max he has no one to blame but himself.

Next Week

Pepe is mad at his team for sucking. Jaidon gets bad news from home. Pepe guarantees a turnaround for the Blue Team. That’s pretty obvious when his best fighters haven’t fought yet and the Gold Team has already sent their two best fighters to the next round. As always, you can see the unedited fights on ESPN2 late Thursday night. I think it’s on a delay so this Thursday will likely be the Codrington/Vera fight.

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