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TUF 21 - Episode Three Preview

The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians airs Wednesday at 10pm/7pm ETPT on FOX Sports 1.

It's been a rough start to the season for American Top Team after losing the first two fights, with both Mike Graves and Uros Jurisic coming up short in their Ultimate Fighter matchups against the Blackzilians. 

The first four fights of the season only count for 25 points each, so technically American Top Team is only down 50 points so far, but that doesn't account for the hit they are taking to team morale. The latest episode once again shows the fighters reacting to the loss, but Mike Graves might accidentally start an age old "Ultimate Fighter" prank that could eventually lead to payback from the Blackzilians.

From the very first season of The Ultimate Fighter, the competitors who are forced to live side by side with each other for six weeks with no form of outside communication and really no escape from the house outside of training sometimes lash out by doing really stupid things, either as stunts or just trying to punk someone else on the show.

Don't think this season will be any different, although surprisingly it did take until episode three for something to finally unfold. While it's fairly minor in the grand scheme of things (at least for now), keep an eye on what happens this episode to see how this may play into the bigger picture of American Top Team vs. the Blackzilians inside the house.

One of the most interesting aspects of the show thus far this season has been the incredible strategy employed by the Blackzilians as they dissect the possible matchups to select their fighter from week to week. One of the biggest things to remember for this season is that the teams don't know who they are fighting until the day of the weigh-ins, so there's no way to strategize by putting a really good wrestler against a fighter who is primarily a striker or some other matchup that might be favorable to one side or the other.

It's really a roll of the dice, but through the first two fights of the season, the Blackzilians are making the perfect selections for their fighters to counter who gets thrown at them from American Top Team. The new episode puts former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans in the spotlight for his knowledge and when it comes to Ultimate Fighter veterans, there aren't many better than him.

Evans was a participant in and eventual winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 2 before he coached the show during season 10 opposite Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. So when it comes to knowledge about the inner workings of the show, Evans is an expert, and despite the changes to this new season of the show, he seems to have this strategy thing down like a seasoned veteran.

Once the fighters are selected, it's time for the weigh-ins, but this time the confrontation that happens isn't because owners Dan Lambert and Glenn Robinson are going after each other. It's because the fighter representing American Top Team comes in over weight and just like any other fight card, the Florida Athletic Commission gives him a certain amount of time to cut the overage and weigh in again.

The problem is just like the first two fights, this one is taking place on the Blackzilians' home turf and the only sauna that the fighters can use belongs to the opposing team. Unlike a regular UFC event, where the fighters are staying at a hotel or taken to a nearby gym to help cut weight when a situation like this arises, technically there are no rules for what is or isn't allowed this season and one team doesn't necessarily have to help the other in these cases.

As teased a week ago, veteran fighter Nathan Coy was selected as the captain for his guys at American Top Team for a reason and he'll prove what he's worth to his teammates this week without a doubt. Coy is one of the most experienced fighters on American Top Team, not to mention a leader in the gym. He'll definitely play that part this week as he stands up to an opposing force from the Blackzilians. Needless to say, the showdown between American Top Team and the Blackzilians gets really ugly and it looks like at least two fighters might come to blows in the locker room.

If there was any doubt that this show is personal to everyone involved, episode three will prove it.

The fight this week is another chance for American Top Team to get into the win column and counter some of the points already accumulated by the Blackzilians through the first two weeks. It's a key matchup if for no other reason than American Top Team has already spent two weeks fighting on the Blackzilians' home turf and the weight cutting incident this week is just further proof why they need to get the advantage back in their court.

Can American Top Team get the job done and finally pick up a win or will the Blackzilians show their dominance for another week and go up 3-0 in the competition? The only way to know for sure is to watch the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter to see what happens.