Welcome back to the third installment of my blog.
This week kicked off with my team coming off a loss — our first loss. I think people kind of took it for granted when we had control of the picks. When I won my fight, we all went back to the house, we knew we had control and when everybody was going to fight, so people could relax as far as who could eat, who could train a little easier versus who had to prepare for a fight.
Once Javier lost, it kind of made people a little more anxious. Everybody had to watch their weight a little more at that point, and everybody had to be ready to fight because you didn’t know who was going to be picked. It changed everybody’s mental attitude; everybody had to get a little more mentally tough, so it was definitely a little bit of a different dynamic.
Last week, Keon left us, and this week, Justin comes onto the team. For us, it was kind of like Dana White said: it was good that we lost Keon early so that we could get somebody that really wanted to be there; someone that wanted the contract, but also wasn’t sapping away the energy of the team too.
Justin came in there, he got after it real hard and you could tell that he wanted to be there. He fit right in. He wasn’t a punk or an attention hound or anything like that; he was just there to work hard.
To a lot of guys, Coach Lew’s hard practice probably felt like punishment for what Javier did and didn’t do; he didn’t perform the gameplan, he didn’t listen to the coaches, and he pretty much wasted a coach’s pick. So for a lot of guys it probably felt like punishment.
For me, it was just another day in the office. Like Ramsey said on the episode, he’s a wrestler too and we’re used to training hard like that every day. At the same time, I don’t think people realize that I didn’t get any time off after my fight; we had practice an hour after my fight.
In hindsight, training like that right away probably wasn’t the best idea for me either. It kind of wore on a lot of guys mentally. There’s a time and a place to train like that, and there’s a time and a place to kind of pull back.
I was never hard on Lew or any of the coaches because we’re all trying to find that balance. None of us has ever been in the position to fight three times in six weeks, so as far as peaking for your fight goes, that’s hard to get a measure on. I saw a lot of guys cracking mentally though after that, after Lew was putting us through it like that.
We thought they might pick Ryan just because his weight was a little up, but we were instantly happy with the pick; we think of Ryan as one of our better fighters. We thought Len was underestimating him going into that fight, and the coaches didn’t have a clue what they were in for.
Cope was definitely trying to be a spy; he thought he was slick. We’d all be talking in the kitchen and he’d be hanging out, acting like he was doing the dishes, but he’d be there for like 45 minutes; nobody washes the same dishes for 45 minutes. Or he’d go back into the pantry and act like he was looking for something for a long time, so everybody caught onto his antics pretty quick. The dude was not slick at all, and it was kind of annoying. I think that’s what made him stand out from everyone else.
It was cool seeing Brock tell Len to just focus on the fight and not worry about any of the drama because that’s the way I’ve looked at this whole process. I didn’t come here to make friends and socialize; I came here to win a contract with the UFC.
With that in mind, with no distractions in the house – no TV, no music, no women, nothing to read — you start going crazy, and you start paying attention to all the little details, and I think that’s when you see people start picking away at what everyone else is doing in the house, and that’s human nature.
I think the tension between our coaches really starts with the language barrier. When Junior started the competition, we all thought he was a nice guy and he had our best interests at heart, but his ability to communicate wasn’t that good. He was relying on Lew real heavily, and I think once Junior realize we could understand him, he didn’t rely on Lew as much to translate or run practices and that kind of thing.
I think Junior was trying to find a balance between how much he would control and letting Lew handle thing, and Lew was just doing what Junior asked him. It was interesting to say the least; we definitely saw some tension.
For people who have never gone through a weight cut or been around fighters who are cutting weight, here’s my take on things:
It’s definitely a difficult process just because you’ve got the stress of thinking about your fight to deal with too. When we’re overweight, it’s not like we’re out of shape, so trying to cut 10 or 15 pounds off a well-conditioned athlete is no easy task. In most cases when you sit in the sauna, you cook your insides; you’re already lean, so all you have left is water weight, and that’s the whole idea of cutting weight – to sweat that water weight out, get on the scale, and put it all back in you.
Instead of sitting in a sauna like most fighters and cooking your insides, we had the idea for Ryan to sit in a hot tub. There you’re relaxing and letting the sweat come out that way, so that’s what he was doing, and you see it worked because he made weight.
We were surprised that Brock wasn’t there for the fight; we didn’t know he wasn’t going to be there until Len walked out with his coaches and he wasn’t there. We caught wind that Brock was acting like he didn’t want to be there in the first place; he was always counting down the days until he could get back home.
At that point, when Brock wasn’t there, we kind of realized there was a little bit of weakness on that side from the coaches. That played in our favor in that fight for sure.
Just like Keon, Ryan was battling with missing his daughter, and seeing Keon leave definitely made Ryan miss her that much more. But Ryan sucked it up and channelled that energy into his fight, and it definitely made us proud.
As for that fight, I was on the edge of my seat.
I was pretty sure it was going Ryan’s way when they came back with a decision after two rounds. They were definitely close rounds that could have been scored either way, but Ryan finished both rounds strong. I think when you have a close round, I think its all about who finishes strong and Ryan did that.
Seeing Ryan get the win and letting that emotion go was great. We’re a real close team; everybody bought into Junior’s philosophy of needing to be a family in order for everyone to get the best performance possible, and it will come around to benefit all of us in the end.
We were real happy for Ryan; nobody wants to be away from their family, so we were all happy that he got the “W” and that his daughter will be able to watch that someday.
That’s it for this week; it’s nice to have control back on our side again.
See you next week,