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It was every man and woman for themselves in this week’s episode of The Challenge: USA after host T.J. Lavin announced that this season’s algorithm twist was over, and the players would now compete as individuals. Moving forward, one player of each gender will be crowned winners of the daily challenge, with the pair deciding on a man or woman to throw into elimination, depending on which gender is up for elimination that week. This is a familiar format for the franchise, and one that viewers were very happy to see return after seven weeks of the players competing as duos.

One thing that remained the same, though, were targets. In an attempt to play it safe, daily challenge winners Angela Rummans and Ben Driebergen decided to throw three-time The Amazing Race star Leo Temory into the Arena against Big Brother’s Enzo Palumbo. To add to the pressure of it being the first solo elimination, both Temory and Palumbo competed against each other in a Challenge staple: the Hall Brawl.

In a 2-0 sweep, Palumbo ousted Temory in this physical challenge, although Leo clearly held his own throughout the season as a fierce competitor and the first male to win two eliminations.

After introducing our cats to each other, Pop Crave chatted with Leo regarding his feelings about competing as an individual, that photo finish between himself and Ben in this week’s daily challenge, and more. Keep reading for the full interview!

Courtesy of Jonne Roriz/Paramount

You seemed pretty excited to make it to the individual portion of the game. What were your initial thoughts on the algorithm twist being over? Did you feel that it would benefit or be a detriment to your game?

I was excited, you know, because now it’s a chance to showcase who you really are individually, right? In a lot of these challenges, you had a great partner or maybe not a great partner. For me, it helped me out a couple of times, and other times it did not. For the most part, it did. I loved all my partners, but now I’m pumped and motivated to showcase what I got. If you saw on The Challenge, I killed it. I literally kid you not – I was sprinting, I was running – everyone, including Ben, was like, “You won! You won! You won!” People on the boats were like, “You won!” I think you should check the footage, but I’m pretty sure I won that challenge. You know, there’s a lot of other BS that goes around. They made it seem like I lost… but I proved myself, man. I was by myself. People said this and that, but I’m there to have a good time. With The Amazing Race three times, what we became known for was having a good energy, having a good time, and also competing. That’s what I was doing here. With people who didn’t do as many shows or who didn’t understand gaming, they thought that you can’t crack a joke while you’re competing, you know? It doesn’t make sense.

You were so close to winning that daily challenge! Had you won, what realistic move would you have made alongside Angela?

Had I won and it was with Angela, I think it would have been more difficult to do something I would have done. I really don’t understand why any input goes in from the people who have lost. I wouldn’t have asked Enzo, “Who do you want to go up against?” It’s pointless. Like, I’m not going to base my decision on that… I don’t get why [the person] who loses gets any positive input. They get to come back, and whoever did better doesn’t. That’s one thing I don’t get, but Angela is tight with all the Survivor people. It would be hard to go against, so we would definitely be torn. I would definitely be stubborn, and I wouldn’t give way. It’s a tricky scenario, because if I would say someone from the Survivor alliance, per se, and she says no, then I don’t know what would happen – but I would definitely put my foot down and make it more fair. I’m a people person, and I would’ve definitely swayed the tides a little bit.

Throughout the season, we’ve seen confessionals from players saying they preferred not to be paired with you (despite having two elimination wins, which is crazy). Were you aware of how much you were underestimated as a competitor?

Yeah, people would tell me that this is what they were saying. After we were blindsided, it became out in the open that they don’t want to partner with me. They don’t get it, man, and I don’t care because I’m strong-minded. I was raised right, so they don’t understand that. Just because I joke around or say something funny, it doesn’t mean I can’t compete. As I said, that’s what we did on The Amazing Race. That’s what made us do well. The fact that they would say that is completely ridiculous, because look at your serious people and look at how well I did in the eliminations. There wasn’t any water in the arena, so that doesn’t make any sense. That proved my case.

“Oh, no one wants to be partnered up with Leo! Waaaah! Cry me a river!” I kept up with the best of them, if not better, and I still cracked jokes and had a good time. Afterwards, their whole intent was, “Oh, no one wants to partner up with him?” to, “Now he’s a threat! Now he’s doing good, and now he’s gonna come after us! Now we still gotta get him out!” There’s no winning [laughs]! The biggest caveat was that we had three Amazing Racers – that was it – so we were doomed from the beginning. You really can’t trust anyone else if they don’t partner up with you. They’re gonna stick to their alliance, you know? It sucks… With Ben, I was like his friend, right? I was sitting in the back of the bus with him when no one would. No one was really that close with him, or at least from what I had seen, people were scared of him. He hit a wall once, they called security, and people moved beds. This fool still has these people’s backs, even when they did all this stuff. I stuck by his side… So, a lot of politics, a lot of BS… At the end of the day, it’s all good. It’s a game show… I should have won that challenge, and everything would have been different. I make moves, bro. That’s how I’m successful in life. I make moves. I shake and bake.

I personally really respected your decision to not go back out and say goodbye after losing the elimination. But, is that something you regret at all or do you stand by that decision?

I appreciate that, and that’s part of the factor, but the main reason I couldn’t go back was that the medics wanted to take a look at me. They called the ambulance. That’s why I said there’s no point; I can’t go back because the ambulance is here. I had to go get checked out, and I got a concussion. That was one of the biggest reasons I hadn’t gone back. But had I gone back out, I would’ve just shooken T.J.’s hands and thanked him. That’s the main reason I would have gone back for. I couldn’t have cared less for anyone else. With everyone except Cayla, everyone knows what’s going on. It’s unfair to go in with three Amazing Racers and try to compete with all these other teams and shows, with so many alliances, but I think I did pretty good. I made it far, and I think I won that challenge. I won two eliminations with some big, big, big, big hitters. It sucks, especially with how I was thrown in a Hall Brawl against someone who’s 60 pounds heavier than me. It just doesn’t make sense, you know? It’s a bunch of BS.

New episodes of The Challenge: USA air Wednesday nights at 9/8c on CBS.