The third episode of The Ultimate Fighter Live mostly continued the straight-forward, fight-focused ethic of the first two episodes.
Team Cruz was able to maintain control of the fight picks while also dispatching one of Team Faber's best fighters in the process. Justin Lawrence maintained his status as the house favorite in beating Cristiano Marcello, who used a baffling game plan in the biggest fight of his career.
Let's hand out grades for episode 3.
Justin Lawrence: A
The overall No. 1 pick on the show delivered on the hype, knocking out Cristiano Marcello in the second round to advance in the tournament. Lawrence displayed a wide range of striking skills and nullified Marcello's takedown attempts, keeping the fight on the feet where he wanted it. Lawrence solidified himself as the top contender on the show with another good performance.
Rachelle Leah: A
If there were such a thing as an Octagon Girl Hall of Fame, Leah would be a first-ballot selection. Need I say more?
Dominick Cruz: B+
Team Cruz earned another win and kept control of fight picks for another week. On top of that, Cruz was able to spend some time gloating about last week's surprising burn of Urijah Faber during the fight picks. It's still early in the season, but it appears that Cruz has the best roster of fighters on his side. He also made a great fight selection in choosing Myles Jury to face Al Iaquinta from Team Faber.
The Production Team: B
The production crew for this season faces monumental challenges in producing the show. The film from each day must be edited in real-time and prepared for the Friday night live broadcasts. In addition, they need to cull together intriguing storylines without knowing the fight outcomes. It's a tough challenge, but one they've handled incredibly well thus far.
Urijah Faber: C
Faber's a nice, laid-back guy, and that's great. But fans historically tune into TUF for conflict between the coaches and fighters. Thus far, Faber has mostly let Cruz' barbs roll off his back. That makes him a likable dude, but we're ready to see some of that hatred for Cruz that we've been hearing about for so long.
Cristiano Marcello: D
Marcello's decision to (mostly) stand and trade strikes with Lawrence cost him dearly. Instead of consistently attempting to get the fight to the ground, no matter the cost, Marcello fancied himself a kickboxer. Like so many other world-class grapplers who attempt the same thing, it cost him the fight. He remedied himself a bit after the fight when he asked for a spot on the UFC Rio card. I don't see it happening—with his early elimination from the show, Marcello will be lucky just to get a preliminary fight on the Ultimate Fighter Live Finale.
Chris Tickle: F
Every season of TUF has a resident moron, and it appears that Tickle is filling the role on this season. From sitting around with a gas mask on to using earrings and diarrhea to get out of training, Tickle was in rare form during this episode. He isn't endearing himself to anyone in the house with his antics.