It felt like Christmas in springtime this week as I waited for my DHL delivery that contained my advance copy of this week’s episode. I was anxious to see how the whole thing with coaches Rampage Jackson and Forrest Griffin went, and of course, seeing my fight. Even knowing the results, I was anxious and nervous all at the same time.
The episode begins with Forrest crushing that door. I was warming up and getting ready for my fight, and I hear furniture breaking and doors slamming. Then I have Rampage and Dana White in my dressing room discussing the rules and how scoring went down.
So here I am, preparing to fight in the craziest tournament format you could imagine, and the world champ and UFC president decide to use my dressing room as the conference room. To say I was distracted would be an understatement. The only person that had it worse than me was Nick Klein as he was in the eye of the storm.
I thought Pat Schultz did the right thing by apologizing to Forrest for his post-fight comments. Forrest is a good coach, and Pat let the emotions of the event get the better of him. Forrest did not even seem to start processing the comment until after he tested the structural soundness of the UFC Training Center. I am sure Pat was glad Forrest wasn’t “King Konging” him.
Heading into this fight, I wanted to accomplish three things. I wanted to get in and get out without injury, I wanted not to show a lot of my skills since my potential future opponents were surely taking notes, and I wanted to look impressive. I think I accomplished one of the three goals (not showing a lot).
When they begin telling the background information on Nick and myself, they used footage of us training over time. Our fight was immediately after Pat and Cale Yarborough’s bout, which aired last week. I wish I could sit here and somehow blame me talking in third person on the editing, but CB can’t lie; CB pulled the “douche-bag card” out on national TV.
I was surprised to see Nick speaking to his teammates about his doubts in his ability. I can tell you first hand that Nick has good jits and is a tough, tough fighter. He should hold his head higher and believe more in his abilities. I know I do.
When I train for fights, I try to peak my performance for the fight. In this situation, in which you have no idea when or who you are fighting, it is very difficult to peak or get ready. Leading into this fight, I was sidelined a bit and had very little opportunity to do much more than cardio, so to say my training was out of whack was an understatement. I was lucky that Team Forrest was also working hard and none of us was at our peak performance.
When the fight began, I could not get my hands moving. When they did, I could feel the strikes were sloppy and had little or no snap. When we went to the ground, I wanted to go for the finish. Nick did a good job moving and transitioning, but I was able to stay with him.
When I was throwing punches from the top, I hit Nick a few times in the back of the head, and I could tell the referee was close to taking a point away. It is real difficult to strike a moving target, and Nick was definitely moving. When a fighter covers up like that, you do not want to waste your energy on hitting his gloves, so you need to pick and time your shots. Obviously I was having some difficulty doing that.
When he got me in the knee-bar, I was in trouble. I felt the knee ligaments stretching, and if I didn’t do something quickly, my chance at winning was going to be over. That was the only time he had me in serious trouble, but it was indeed serious.
In my mind I said, “He almost knee barred me.” And at that point I decided this was a tough fight and walking through Nick wasn’t going to happen. He was here to win the show, and if that meant tearing off my knee, he was down for it.
No way I was going to lose this fight, though. All the pressure was on me, being the first guy picked and having Rampage telling me he needed me to win. It was a lot of additional pressure in an already pressure-filled environment.
Nick showed how tough he was in Round 1, and he really surprised me with all of his submission attempts. He was working hard for the win, and with that fighting style, he is going to be able to catch a lot of people. I was glad to have made it through the first round and knew I needed to get him out of the fight without leaving this to the judges.
In between rounds, when the referee told me to watch the strikes to the back of the head, I knew that I was going to have to adjust my game plan a bit. “If I can’t put him out and I lose a point, I could loose this fight,” I thought. So I wanted to either go for the KO or submission.
As the second round begins, he and I trade a few strikes, and then he pulls guard. At that point, I am thinking, “Great, now I have to watch where I strike again.” Every time I was behind or on top of him, the referee was reminding me how close he was to deducting a point.
I heard a lot of talk about wrestlers not being able to handle being put on their backs. While in the early years of the UFC that was true, I think most fighters today are fully evolved MMA fighters. They may excel in certain areas, but they are able to adapt to all the arts (see Amir Sadollah, for an example). At my gym we have some of the best jiu-jitsu guys in the world, and they are teaching me jiu-jitsu for MMA while I am teaching them wrestling for MMA. The guys at Arizona Combat Sorts teach a well-rounded version of MMA with an emphasis on striking from every position.
I think, if anything, I was stronger then Nick that day and my strength and determination helped me secure the submission early in the second round. It felt great to submit a guy that pulls guard on you. He is basically saying, “Your ground game is not good, and I want you on the ground.” So beating a guy at his own game makes the win that much sweeter.
If I could have had one thing in the house, it would have been women, but if we could have two things, I would have also wanted the ability to watch the tape of our fights. We are on the show to become better fighters, and seeing the mistakes you make and analyzing tape is a big part of improving. I made a lot of mistakes in that fight and waiting 10 weeks to see them is different than picking it apart while it is fresh in your mind.
It was pretty flattering to hear all of the coaches and even Dana give Nick and me so many accolades. I think it was a good fight, and I was very impressed with Nick and his toughness. As for me, I showed that I am well-rounded with a lot of learning to do. I put myself in positions to lose that a more-experienced fighter would make me pay for. I guess I should be thankful this is “TUF” and not the UFC.
Post fight we get to go in and speak about our match-ups for the next round and whom we as fighters want to fight. I had Cale spending a lot of time talking smack about me, and I wanted to fight him and soon. I was glad they gave me the fight I wanted.
As for Cale, he was just jealous that he had not figured out a way to procure such cool sunglasses. They were likely too difficult for him to spell, so he did not put s-u-n-g-l-a-s-s-e-s on the shopping list. If he had an issue with me, he should have come to me man to man. Instead he corralled his posse of homophobes and tried to be cute. I want to make him pay for his remarks; I want to do that in the octagon.
The deal with the sunglasses was that I was able to convince the producers to allow me to get them. They had no visible logos, and the producers were OK with them. Once the guys on my team saw them, they wanted them. The reason they went with the same color and look is likely due to not wanting to be told no. Why reinvent the wheel?
On this episode they show me catching Rampage in a submission. But that was not a peruvian necktie—that was a basic guillotine. As fun as it was catching him, it is not like we were going 100 percent in a real live fight. The great thing about Rampage is that he is as interested in helping you as he is learning from you. He has no ego, and he never took any of his frustrations out on us.
He did say I have a big head, but looking at him, I think the pot is calling the kettle black!
When Dana made the quarterfinal match-up announcement, I was stoked. I get to fight Cale, and I think this is the first time that I had a real personal issue with a potential opponent since my pro debut. When in life do you get to kick and hit someone who has talked smack about you—and potentially earn $10,000 for doing so?
The other fight that really piqued my interest was the Matt Brown vs. Amir bout. Both of these guys are bangers, and I knew this fight could be the best one of the entire season. I had a feeling this fight was going to be an all-out war. I was happy to be cageside for it.
Finally, I wanted to thank Nick for coming into our bout and giving me a real fight. You are a great fighter and should hold your head high like the warrior you are!
C.B. Dollaway (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) pens his weekly blog exclusively for MMAjunkie.com. Catch his and castmate Luke Zachrich’s weekly columns each Thursday morning, or join the fighters each Wednesday night at their public appearances. Also, be sure to catch “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rampage vs. Team Griffin” Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Spike TV.
Check out more UFC News at MMAjunkie.com. This story originally appeared on MMAjunkie.com and is syndicated on Yahoo! Sports as part of a content-partnership deal between the two sites.
Think its always interesting to read what these guys have to say.