The Ultimate Fighter 3 was the third season of the mixed martial arts reality television series The Ultimate Fighter. It premiered on April 6, 2006, immediately after the conclusion of Ultimate Fight Night 4. The season featured sixteen fighters with still-feuding former champion Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock as coaches. The finale aired on June 24, 2006 and tied the UFC's all-time record with a 2.0 overall rating.
There were several rule changes from the previous Ultimate Fighter seasons. There were to be no team challenges. All fighters would have to win a preliminary match before advancing to the semi-finals—which in practice started the single-elimination tournament at the beginning of the series instead of near the end. The first preliminary match was set by the team who won a coin toss. All subsequent first-round match-ups were set by the team that won the previous match. Each fight was set for two rounds instead of the normal three. If there was a draw after two rounds, the match would go to a final, five-minute tiebreaker round. In such a case, the judges' final decision on the match would be based solely on the third round. Coaches were allowed to bring two other assistant coaches to assist with training, whereas in previous seasons, assistant trainers hired by the UFC worked for both camps.
Season three of The Ultimate Fighter pits legendary rivals Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz against each other. As coaches, Tito and Ken train a new army of mixed martial artists from the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. The fighters are evaluated, teams are selected, and two middleweights clash in the Octagon for a chance at becoming the next Ultimate Fighter.
A basketball drives a wedge between the teams. Feathers are ruffled as Coach Ortiz takes Matt Hamill under his wing. And two light heavyweights fight for a spot in semi-finals.
An alliance is formed between two fighters who are on opposite teams. Rory is getting on people’s nerves and Tito picks two middleweights to fight in the Octagon.
Team Shamrock is upset with their lack of training and take matters into their own hands. Fed up with Matt’s behavior at the gym, Bisping gets drunk and goes on a tirade. And two more light heavyweights compete for a spot in the semi-finals.
After another crushing victory by Team Ortiz, Ken Shamrock searches for answers to why his fighters aren’t winning. His frustration boils over and Ken loses his cool. The bad blood between coaches spills over to the next two middleweights who are preparing to bang their way into the semi-finals.
Matt’s Hamill’s behavior continues to irritate his teammates. Fighters start going stir crazy in the house. And someone receives disturbing news.
After Noah quits the competition, Dana White brings in a fighter to replace him. With Team Ortiz’s morale low, Tito lifts their spirit with a special surprise. Josh Haynes and Tait Fletcher battle it out in the Octagon in the third preliminary Light Heavyweight Fight.
Ed “Short Fuse” Herman finally gets his day in the Octagon. Will he be able to prove that Tito should have picked him first or will Danny ‘The Assassin’ take him out?
Tito’s prodigy Matt Hamill finally gets his chance to fight in the Octagon against Mike Nickels. But Matt gets little support from his teammates have issues his superior skills and cockiness.
The semi-final match-ups are announced. Ken and Tito face off in a competition of their own. And the first finalist emerges from the Octagon.
It’s almost the end of the competition and the fighters are going crazy. The last middleweight semi-final fight pits Ed Herman against Rory Singer.
It’s the light heavyweight semi-finals with Josh Haynes facing Jesse Forbes and Ross Pointon taking on Michael Bisping. Two will move on to battle it out for the contract in The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale.
The Ultimate Fighter 3 Finals are set. In the Middleweight Final Kendall Grove will face Ed Herman. Michael Bisping and Josh Haynes will square off in the Light Heavyweight Final. Also, Ultimate Fighter Season 1's Kenny Florian will take on Sam Stout.