Warning: This article contains spoilers about episode 3 of The Challenge: All Stars 3, now streaming on Paramount+.
When the game got dirty (literally) on The Challenge: All Stars 3, Syrus Yarbrough paid the ultimate price.
Despite making it into the final round of this week's muddy, physical challenge, Yarbrough was still sent into elimination because the last place finisher/reigning All Stars 2 champ MJ Garrett wanted to compete against him. According to Garrett, Yarbrough was the easiest guy to beat in an elimination, so he campaigned hard to get The Authority to throw Yarbrough in. His politicking worked, and in the close matchup, Yarbrough lost and was sent home (read EW's recap here).
"These things happen sometimes," Yarbrough tells EW. "Didn't plan on it happening that way. I thought I was focused enough to get it accomplished, but it just didn't work out like that in the end. It was tough."
Below, the 50-year-old OG Challenge champ breaks down how his game was cut short and his hopes for his future on both All Stars and the main franchise.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling about how your game ended this season?
SYRUS YARBROUGH: I think I did pretty good, but I could have done better. Sometimes you take things a little more literal than you should, these challenges, and we think too deep about what's taking place, and that can be to your detriment sometimes. I'll live to fight again. I go on these Challenges and I didn't want to get injured. Ego's a little bruised — I worked so hard getting back into optimal physical condition to where I'm going to be disappointed if I don't make it to the final, and I didn't make it to the final, so it definitely disappoints me. I really disappointed myself. I feel like I beat myself. I still feel like that was my elimination to win. And it just didn't go my way.
I was shocked that MJ wanted to go against you, because I certainly wouldn't want to face you in an elimination!
Well, there's that thing they call age, and you have to look at it. No matter what is happening, they're going to look to my age, and they're going to come at me, which is more of a reason why I got more ready for this whole thing, because I know. That's the reason I'm out doing 20 miles a day, still to this day. From the day I left, I never stopped my workouts. I'm just hoping and waiting for the next one. I want to go on the other show, I want to be on the big Challenge, too, and I'm not going to stop until I get there. I need to prove that to myself.
Being a college athlete and playing a little pro ball as well, you don't get that chance again to play on those levels. This is the closest thing to that, and I honestly live for it. The only time you can challenge yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially, it's The Challenge. It really is that fifth American sport. So it's rough, I'm not happy about [getting eliminated]. I'm angry because I lost. I'm never happy with losing. I've never been a loser. I've always been a champion since the first day I started to compete. You grow to anticipate certain things happening in your life, and that's something I always thought, that I would always be winning. I don't lose. That's in all aspects of life.
Did you know how hard MJ was campaigning to go against you?
I knew what it was. The Challenge is no secret. When this is taking place, people are avoiding you. They're looking the opposite direction. It's a really weird phenomenon when it's about to go down. And I started feeling that on the bus on the way home from the competition. I started feeling like I'm definitely going to be put up. If I don't get chosen to go in, I'll still be put up for sure. So I knew that was happening. He thought I was low-hanging fruit, the easy way out, and he came at me. When I get a chance to come back at him, I'm coming. Just like Alton: every chance I get to come at him, I'm coming. It's not a problem, it's just man-to-man. You wanted me, you called me out, so let's go. First chance I get to call you out, I will return the favor.
Personally, I don't think there's anyone I can't beat. It just depends on the competition at hand. We all have our things that we're better at than others, so I'll continue to play that card. I'm not mad at him or anything. It just is what it is.
How were you feeling going into this elimination once you learned what it was?
I was extremely focused, like I was going to win it. I didn't think I was going to lose it at all. I was more focused on what the rules are and not getting panicked. That's one of my detriments, I think. I try and focus on exactly what not to do. And I just lost the game. I know I had a chance to win it, and that's what bothers me the most. If I put myself in a position to have a chance to win, and I beat myself, I get really angry. But I don't think I deserved to be in there. I did well in the [challenge]. I believe I was top four or five, and they still went with the wrong man. They gave him what he wanted. For that brief moment, I thought there's no way I'm going in, when I came in that high. And it didn't set in until I was halfway home.
You've got incredible basketball skills, so what happened with throwing those sandbags?
It rocked a little bit more than I anticipated it rocking, and I just couldn't get the right momentum basically. I couldn't catch it at the right time, and I started going too fast. I think I missed six to eight bags, easy, and if I had to do the math, I pretty much would have had it won if I hadn't missed that many of them. It felt a little like basketball, but not really. But there's no excuse. He beat me. I lost.
Moving forward, I cannot wait for the next Challenge. Then it's time to compete. Hopefully there's [All Stars] 4. I hope I'm considered for that. I told myself when I come back on The Challenge, I will be a little chocolate Mark [Long]. That was my goal. [Laughs] I'm another 25 lbs. lighter than I was on that Challenge. I have dropped a total of about 60 lbs.
My cardio is incredible. I've got the heart of a lion, and I've got the will to push anyone. So I'm ready to go. My woman has got this six-pack, and I remember being like, "What in the hell?" I look at me and I had a pony keg. I was like, "I've got to fix this. I want one. I'm going to do that." She was like, "Let's do it." We started together during COVID, and I went from five miles in a 40-lb. weight vest to doing at least 20 miles a day running, by bike, however I've got to do it, I get my 20 miles in. Plus I lift as well. I'm down to my literal high school basketball playing weight. I'm actually stronger than I've been in a long time. And I'm here to compete. No more games.
Looking back at your time on All Stars 3, are you proud of how you played the game politically and socially?
I think I played a decent political game. My whole theory was never to come in first, always to come in mid-range. I know everyone in the house. I think some people naturally gravitate a little more toward me. I didn't think I made too much of a stink and put myself in harm's way too much. I thought that I was right where I wanted to be. In my mind, my theory was I would have to go through a minimum of four eliminations to make it to the final because I knew they would throw me back in there. It was minimum of four to possibly six, and I'd have to win all of those in order to make it to the final.
That would have been a tough road!
Yeah, but I'm sure they would have came for me. People talk these big crazy games, and in the end, they want to go after who they think they can beat. Unfortunately, one thing that cannot be beaten is Father Time. But it's still fun. I feel truly blessed to be a part of the franchise, and to still, 25 years later, be able to come and compete and show not only my progress as a man but my progress as a Challenger. I love that, and seeing faces that I haven't seen in forever.
Do you have any regrets from this season?
I sucked at mud ball. [Laughs] Mud ball was crazy. Watching Brad and Derrick and Jordan float through the mud was crazy. I was like, "How the hell are they doing that?" I remember thinking, "I could never float like that." They were so fast. I still don't know how they did it. I touched the mud, and boom, sank right to the bottom. Literally. I was climbing out of that stuff. It was fun though. It was like having a mud bath at the spa.
A very aggressive spa day.
And then when you're in the sand [in the elimination arena], I got a little exfoliant from the first elimination. So I got the exfoliant, and I got the mud bath. I'm telling you, The Challenge is nothing but a spa for me. I've got to take care of these crow's feet. I've got to keep everything smooth. How do you think the kids would handle me on the main show?
I think you could do some damage, for sure.
Literally, I could the dad to like half of them. And that's the problem. Will they give me respect like they give a parent? Or are they just going to dis the hell out of me the whole time? I want to be like that classic car that everyone admires and likes because it's beautiful, and don't touch it too much. Just let him be. And I hear they might be bringing couples on [the main show], and I'm putting my bid in now. My girl would probably never do it, but she'd do it for me. We'd be great.
The Challenge: All Stars 3 debuts new episodes Wednesdays on Paramount+.
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