One house, 16 fighters. It might not seem all that daunting, but each season, The Ultimate Fighter’s format takes a toll, both mentally and physically, on the fighters seeking to snag that six-figure contract. While TUF Nations is hitting the semifinal round, the third installment of the Brazilian version of the UFC’s landmark reality series is just beginning.

On the third episode of the show, coach Wanderlei Silva returned to the UFC Gym and continued to coach opposite Chael Sonnen. Citing his agreement to the show and the fighters, Silva moved forward with the official start to the competition, which saw Team Wanderlei win the coin toss. Silva opted to select the first fight of the season, meaning that Sonnen would get to select the first middleweight to join “Team No Apologies,” as the former three-time title contender called his legion.

The coaches selected their teams, and soon after, things heated up between Silva and Sonnen again. Silva shoved Sonnen and shouted vulgarities at him, but cooler heads eventually prevailed. Silva went on to select the first fight, pitting Wagner Gomes against Joilton Santos. Meanwhile, the heavyweights and middleweights celebrated their arrival at the TUF house and partook in a competition to vote on a new Octagon girl for the show.

The show streams each Sunday on the promotion’s Fight Pass digital network.

Team Wanderlei

Paulo Costa, Wagner Gomes, Ricardo Abreu, Ismael de Jesus.

Jollyson Francisco, Antônio Carlos Junior, Richardson Moreira, Antônio Branjão.

Team Sonnen

Joilton Santos, Guilherme de Vasconcelos, Warlley Alves, Márcio Junior

Job Kleber, Edgard Castaldelli, Marcos Rogério, Vitor Miranda

Middleweight Fight: Wagner Gomes (Team Wanderlei) vs. Joilton Santos (Team Sonnen)

The first round starts off quickly and furiously for Santos, who establishes himself as the aggressor early by picking Gomes apart with strikes and defending an early takedown attempt. Team Sonnen’s coaches tell Santos to move his back away from the cage, which he eventually does, but Gomes secures a takedown and holds it until Santos finds a way to get up. Santos closes out the first frame by posting Gomes against the cage and implementing strikes to the leg and head.

After some pep talk from both corners, round two begins. Gomes finds openings to take Santos’ back and rain down with punches, but Santos hangs on. Santos tries to break down Gomes against the cage again, but the ref separates the fighters. Another Gomes takedown leads to Santos again giving up his back, eating punches, fending off a rear-naked choke and surviving an arm-triangle choke until the end of the round.

Team Sonnen’s jiu-jitsu coach Vinny Magalhaes tells Santos that Gomes won the second and follows up by saying, “Let’s have a third round,” which we get.

Once the third round begins, Santos takes his corner’s advice and keeps the action away from the cage, choosing to instead work his hands and his leg kicks in the center of the Octagon. Almost a full three minutes into the bout, Santos backs up after a leg kick and it eventually leads to another takedown. Santos gets up and tries to put Gomes through yet another grinder against the cage, but with 48 seconds left in the round, the ref separates them again. Santos attempts one last time to make something happen against the cage, but time runs out, and we go to the judges’ scorecards.

After three rounds of intense action, the fight ends in a split decision. While one judge scored the bout for Santos, two of the trio scored the contest in favor of Gomes. Team Sonnen appears visibly hurt to see one of their own defeated, but they stand behind their teammate despite his defeat. Meanwhile, Team Wanderlei celebrates their victory.

Wagner Gomes def. Joilton Santos by split decision