The Gentleman’s Guide to The Ultimate Fighter 18: Episode 1 – Win and You’re In
Sitting at my girlfriend’s parent’s house having dinner about a month after the tryouts and my phone rings and I see the name on the phone and got excited. It was the UFC calling to ask me to come down and fight to get into the house. I was so pumped! It was a tough time for me as I had both my grandmothers, who I am very close with, in two different hospitals at the same time. They were both not doing very well. The doctors said one grandmother only had a short time left, so I knew in my mind that if I went and fought and won I would be gone without any outside contact for six weeks. This meant seeing her before I left was probably going to be the last time I would ever see and speak with her. It was very hard to do but both of them told me that they wanted me to go, it was a dream of mine and I needed to see it through.
The last two weeks before I left were exhausting, going from work to one hospital to the other hospital and then to train, then wake up and do it all over again. I was very burnt out physically and even more so mentally.
When I got down to Las Vegas, the fighters were all separated and pretty much confined in our rooms. I had to cut weight myself, and I woke up on weigh-in day actually a lot lighter than I should have been. I woke up at 134lbs, already under weight! I did not want to be sitting that low for too long because it is hard on the body not to mention just plain miserable. We weighed in then found out who we were fighting. Sure enough, I end up fighting the Irish fella that I was eating dinner with just hours before.
Fight day was pretty crazy! 16 fights in one day! 16 people in each locker room gets pretty crowded. I began getting ready and just didn’t feel on. I started to do a warm up with the coaches they had in there, but it is difficult when they have no idea who you are, how you fight, and how you warm up. As I was warming up, they had power trouble in the TUF training center and were delayed for about an hour and a half, so I had to cool down for a while then start up again. My nerves now were sky high.
I went out there and the fight started off good. He came in wild and I got the take down pretty easily. We had a couple good scrambles where I got his back at one point and he shook me off then I swept him again to regain top control. I must have took him down about 4 or 5 times in the first, mostly against the cage. After the round was over I was gassed. I came back to the corner and could not lift my arms. I am not sure if it was the adrenaline dump and maybe over-trained but usually my cardio is top notch.
The second round sucked, it was just pretty much me taking him down continuously against the cage and constantly getting top control. I felt if I broke away I would not be able to keep my arms up. I was that tired. I wish the fight was more exciting but I did what I had to do to secure a spot in the house and that was the ultimate goal.
After the fight I was disappointed with my performance but happy that I was moving on into the house. Immediately, I went out and sat with my parents, girlfriend and manager and received the bad news. My one grandmother had passed away the day before the fight, but my parents didn’t want to tell me before my fight. It was a rollercoaster of emotions that was hard to deal with but I had to press on and keep chasing what I came there for.
When it came to team picks, I thought I would have been last pick just because of how I felt out there and I didn’t really get to see the other fights. However, I was picked fifth out of eight for Team Tate. I did not really have a preference of what team so either one was good to me. The feeling that I was about to go to the TUF house was surreal and couldn’t believe I was about to go. I was watching this show before I even began training in the sport, and now I am here myself.