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The Ultimate Fighter 26 - Episode 3 Preview

Through the first two fights on this season of The Ultimate Fighter: A New World Champion, the higher seeds have stayed successful, with DeAnna Bennett rolling into the next round of the tournament after stopping Karine Gevorgyan last week.

Bennett was the No. 4 seed in the tournament representing Team Alvarez, while Gevorgyan was the No. 13 seed from Team Gaethje. This week, No. 6 seed Montana Stewart, representing Team Gaethje, will look to punch her ticket to the next round when she takes on the No. 11 seed from Team Alvarez, Ariel Beck.

Before the fight gets started, the athletes will get the chance to visit the new state of the art UFC Performance Institute that just opened recently in Las Vegas.

The UFC Performance Institute is a haven for fighters to not only train for upcoming fights, but also assist with physical therapy, recovery, nutrition and essentially any other need an athlete might have before competing inside the Octagon. Just recently, Conor McGregor conducted his training camp at the Performance Institute ahead of his showdown with Floyd Mayweather as he took advantage of all the benefits that were provided to him as a member of the UFC roster.
Several other fighters, such as Joseph Benavidez, have been spending a lot of time at the Performance Institute while rehabilitating injuries such as the knee surgery he recently endured, and now he's able to recover and do all of his rehabilitation in house with physical therapists on staff. Needless to say, the fighters representing Team Alvarez and Team Gaethje will enjoy all the benefits that the Performance Institute has to offer.

Considering everybody on the show came into the competition ready to fight, the athletes have already been going through rigorous training sessions at least twice a day, so taking advantage of the Performance Institute’s saunas, hot tubs, cryotherapy and all sorts of other machines tooled for recovery will be a welcome addition for the fighters.

The Performance Institute will also come into play for No. 8 seed Emily Whitmire, who suffered a painful rib injury on the show last week that had her fearing her run in the competition may be over before it begins. Whitmire suffered the injury during a grappling session and, at the time, she believed it was possibly a fractured rib, which would have put her out of the tournament. Thankfully, Whitmire only strained some cartilage between her ribs, which is certainly painful but won't push her out of the competition. That's where the Performance Institute will come in handy this week as Whitmire visits the facility to check on her injury as well as receive some much needed treatment from the physical therapists.

For the first time this season, at least half of the fighters will get the opportunity to leave the house in the upcoming episode as coach Justin Gaethje will take his team on a bowling expedition to give them a much-needed break before the next fight gets underway. Of course, Gaethje is a natural born competitor so he might have a surprise in store for his fighters once they arrive at the bowling alley.

Watch previous seasons of The Ultimate Fighter on FIGHT PASS | The Rise of Women's MMARecap Last Week's Episode

When it comes down to the fight this week, the matchup pits grappler against striker as former high school wrestling standout Montana Stewart takes on heavy-handed flyweight Ariel Beck.

At 22, Stewart is one of the youngest competitors in the history of The Ultimate Fighter, but she's definitely not lacking experience inside the cage. Stewart is 7-4 as a professional with a lot of experience against veteran talent including a fight against current top 10-ranked women's strawweight Cynthia Calvillo.

Stewart comes from a high school wrestling background where she actually grappled with both boys and girls while competing at a top-notch school that was one of the best in the entire state. Stewart definitely employs that grappling-heavy style in her fights, although she's definitely not afraid to throw her hands when the situation presents itself.

Stewart will be one of the best wrestlers on this season of the show, and that style has often led to dominant victories in a shortened two-round fight. That was a key in the team selection made by former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw during the last season of The Ultimate Fighter, when he did his best to select all of the strongest wrestlers, which helped his team clean house during the tournament. Stewart has that same kind of ability to use her wrestling to negate her opponents' strengths throughout this tournament.

As for Ariel Beck, she comes from a small town in Montana where she grew up on a ranch before falling in love with fighting. Beck is best described as a technical brawler with power in her hands and a love of looking for the knockout. Beck has definitely faced some ups and downs through her young career, but she has a ton of potential and that makes her a dangerous matchup for anyone in this tournament because she's a dark horse contender. Beck has faced some stiff competition during her career as well, and she's actually battled fellow housemate Rachael Ostovich previously.

Chances are Beck will have to fend off more than a few takedown attempts from Stewart in this fight if she wants to win. Still, Beck has dynamite in her hands and if she can draw Stewart into a firefight, this could be a toss-up once they start slinging leather at each other.

Can Beck find a way to pull off the first upset of the tournament or will Stewart keep the same trend going with the higher seeds moving into the next round?

Find out tonight during the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter: A New World Champion at 10 pm ET on FS1.

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