Leading up to the first The Ultimate Fighter with both men and women living in the fighter house, a lot of people thought things were going to go haywire right out of the gate… that didn’t happen.
A lot of the women on this season and a lot of the men – but especially some of the women – have waited a long time for a shot like this. We’re not just kids on some reality show; we’re fighters, trying to make our way in the world.
Remember, a lot of the fighters in the house have a wife or husband, or a girlfriend or boyfriend waiting at home, while we’re here trying to capture our dreams.
Not that there wasn’t a little bit of jawing and flirting going on, but for the most part, as you can see, we got to the house and started settling in for the long haul. We came here to work and to win.
It was kind of different, however, especially for a guy like me that’s never really trained with women before.
Initially, I didn’t want to go full speed with my female training partners. But then I got hit smack in the face, and it woke me up.
Going less than full-on like I would with my male training partners would be a disservice to my female training partners and myself. And I can tell you this, they certainly weren’t holding back on me!
I learned right away, you better give as good as you get with these women… or they’ll take your head off.
Our team wasn’t surprised at all. Shayna is one of the top female fighters around and we knew, and she knew, that she would roll through the much less experienced Julianna.
That wasn’t hyped up on the show at all. Shayna was very confident heading into the fight, and so were Ronda and the rest of the team. We really felt there was no was Julianna could stop her.
But that’s why we fight the fights, right?
Shayna started off great, dominating the first round. Julianna popped her a few times to keep it honest, but Shayna was in control. I really can’t say what happened in the second round, maybe just a momentary lapse, but whatever happened, Julianna took full advantage and eventually finished the fight.
Julianna may not have had the experience, but she showed a ton of heart in the fight to upset Shayna. We were shocked, but you have to give Julianna respect for what she was able to do.
It was pretty tough to lose the fight, but Ronda and the other coaches did a great job rallying us and supporting Shayna.
I’ll never forget Ronda saying that, yeah, we’re here to win, but The Ultimate Fighter isn’t the only route to the UFC. She said, Look at me, I didn’t go through this and I’m a champion.
Team Tate took control with Julianna’s win, and so, of course, with my injured hand, they targeted me for the first men’s fight. Miesha made the pick and selected her top guy, Chris Holdsworth, to fight me, and made no secret that it was because I was injured.
I know Ronda was upset about that, and I understand what she’s saying, but hey, it’s a competition and Miesha’s trying to pick what they think is the easiest route for her team.
Really, it’s kind of a show of respect to me that they think they need to go after me when I’m at less than 100-percent healthy in order to beat me.
But injured hand or not, I’m going into that fight to win. I’m not backing down from anybody.