Taking a look at the first episode of The Ultimate Fighter 13
I want to welcome everybody to this little backstage pass to this season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Getting an opportunity to compete on this show was a blessing and quite a journey, one that I look forward to sharing with you over the next couple of months, both on Spike and here at Heavy.com
I promise that all of these blogs won’t be this long. This is just the first one, and I’m in the episode a little bit, so there is a lot to talk about.
I was excited leading up to that day, having done a training camp for that fight to get in the house. You don’t want to make it that far through the try-out process and then lose your fight to get in the house and be sent right back home.
There was some anxiety as far as that was concerned, and walking through those doors, knowing I’m probably going to have to scrap one of these guys to get in the house. When Dana White made that announcement [that we were already in], it was a relief to know that I was there, but at the same time, I had trained to fight, so I was disappointed and overjoyed at the same time.
I’m a big fan of the show, and every year, listening to Dana give his speech to the guys, he has a way about him that’s real motivating. He makes it very clear that if this better be what you want because if this isn’t what you want, you shouldn’t be here. To hear it in person, it was a realization that I’m finally here; this is the beginning of my journey, the journey that I’ve waited for for a long time, and now its time to put in work.
Going through the evaluations, just like they were taking notes about us, I was taking mental notes about the coaches too; how I got along with the coaches, what their styles were like.
We did an hour with each coach; I started out with Brock, and I thought the guys weren’t that bad. They were all business; there was no joking. I was cool with that if that’s what it took, but then working with Junior’s coaching staff, they knew how to push you, but knew how to keep it fun at the same time. That’s more my style to training and getting ready for fights, so at that point, I knew I wanted to be on Junior’s team.
Getting hurt is definitely one of your worst fears as a fighter, especially when you’re this close to something you’ve been hoping for and working towards for a long time.
I saw Myles get hurt; I saw it take place, and it was real sobering to me. I didn’t know how serious it was because he was able to get up and walk around, but at the same time, I figured that would be one of the guys you want to go after right away as far as picking fights.
Being Junior’s first pick (second overall) was added motivation; you don’t want to be the guy that is picked first and loses first. I didn’t feel any added pressure though. I felt that’s where I belonged, being picked first. That’s not to be cocky or anything, I just thought I was one of the better guys in the group. I was happy that it worked out the way it did and that Junior saw me as one of the best fighters.
Our wrestling coach Lew Polley ran most of the practices, even the non-wrestling ones, just because he’s the most fluent English speaker on the staff. He approached everything with that wrestling mindset; grind, grind, grind, drill, drill, drill and keep doing whatever technique you’re working on until you get it right.
That approach was good to me, it made us tougher, but I think you’ll see over the season that not everyone would agree.
I train with Chris Lytle and Matt Mitrione in Indianapolis; they’ve both been on the show and they were both big on trying to be the first guy to fight. That way, you don’t have to sit back and wonder when you’re going to get picked to fight.
I went and asked if I could fight first, and the coaches thought I was in the best shape of everybody, so I was really happy to get picked to fight first. I was very motivated to set the tone and start the season off right for Team dos Santos.
Having the cameras around all the time was a little tough to get used to at first. I’m a real private guy; I like to do a lot of things on my own, I live by myself, so having the cameras around all the time took a little while to get used to. But I take this sport real seriously, so anything I have to do to get to the next level and have a career in the UFC, I’d do it. Not only will I deal with it, but I’ll try to look good on camera too.