Episode No. 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” opens with fight preparation for Team Gaethje’s Montana Stewart, who fights Team Alvarez’s Ariel Beck in the third tournament bout later in the episode.
No. 6 Stewart is a former standout amateur wrestler who, at 22, is the youngest of the 16 fighters in the tournament. She is a mother to a six-year-old, and despite her age, already has 10 professional bouts on her record.
UFC President Dana White, along with coach Justin Gaethje, call Stewart a dark horse in the tournament and believe she actually has a good chance of winning not only her upcoming fight, but the entire competition.
Team Alvarez has its next training session at the newly opened UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. The UFC PI is a state-of-the-art facility with brand new technology and equipment. One athlete calls it “fighter heaven.”
No. 11 Beck’s preparation begins for her fight with Stewart, which she calls “a nice matchup for me.” Beck has a tough day of training in which her emotions begin to get the best of her. She goes to the locker room and begins to have a “panic attack” due to the intensity of the competition. Fortunately, the coaching staff and numerous teammates are there to lend support.
Coach Eddie Alvarez, in particular, shares some of his most glorious and horrific career moments with Beck and tells her “any feelings you have are not out of the ordinary for any fighter.” Beck gathers herself and eventually returns to the training room.
Later on, No. 8 Emily Whitmire visits the UFC PI to get an update from doctors. She sustained a rib injury during training on the previous episode. One of the physical therapists helps Whitmire recover from the injury, and after having some doubts about her ability to compete right after, Whitmire is very optimistic about her chances.
During a break in training, the Team Gaethje coaching staff decided to take the fighters out for a night of bowling at GameWorks Las Vegas. Coach Gaethje offers the athletes a cash prize for the best results. Stewart receives first prize of $250 for bowling the best game, while No. 10 Rachael Ostovich takes second and gets $150.
The official weigh-ins for the fight take place, and both fighters come in under the 126-pound women’s flyweight limit. A friendly staredown follows.
Fight day arrives, and the third tournament bout is nearly underway. Stewart and Beck finalize preparation with their coaches, and the athletes walk to the cage for their debut contest of the season.
#6 Montana Stewart (6-4) vs. #11 Ariel Beck (4-4)
Round 1 – Stewart comes out throwing combinations while Beck is looking to counter-strike. Stewart lands a nice right hand and begins to back up Beck. Beck is circling the octagon then moves into the clinch. Beck throws some knees to the body and Stewart fires back with some of her own before breaking free. Stewart is throwing combinations and landing with most of her shots. Beck pounds the inside of the leg with a kick, and Stewart closes distance for a body lock. She trips Beck to the mat and lands in half guard. Stewart begins to work from on top as Beck recovers guard position. Stewart postures up and advances into side control. She applies a D’Arce choke, but it’s not fully locked in. She makes some adjustments as Beck fights to get free. Stewart gets it too tight, though, and Beck is forced to tap out.
Montana Stewart def. Ariel Beck via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 1
“I felt amazing, but back to work and I’m not just fine with one win,” Stewart says after her victory. “I’m going to finish all the fights and get that belt.”
Team Gaethje takes a 2-1 lead in the competition with Stewart’s victory. Team Alvarez takes control of fight selection, and with his choice, coach Alvarez selects No. 3 Lauren Murphy to go up against No. 14 Nicco Montano of Team Gaethje next.
Catch new episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter 26: A New World Champion” every Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on FS1. MMAjunkie recaps each episode of the reality series.