Like, I’m the kind of nerd who secretly thought doing homework was fun. The kind of nerd who stayed up way past bedtime to read fantasy novels under the covers with a flashlight. The kind of nerd who sat next to her cello every day on the school bus. We’re talking really, really painfully nerdy stuff.
And as a painfully nerdy nerd, I know many nerdy things, such as the definition of dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is a literary device in which the audience’s knowledge of individuals or events surpasses that of the characters’ knowledge. Granted, the concept of dramatic irony doesn’t really apply to the latest episode of TUF 18 because the general audience was not aware that Anthony would end up missing weight (though I’m sure quite a few guessed that’s where the episode was leading). As someone who had already lived the events and who knew the ending, however, my own experience viewing the episode was rife with dramatic irony. Watching Anthony repeatedly assure our coaches that he would make weight and hearing him talk about what an amazing opportunity it was being on the show made me cringe.
If this episode had been a story handed in to me by a student, I probably would have suggested they tone down the foreshadowing. It was almost too heavy-handed, too obvious. Yet, at the time, I really didn’t believe that Anthony would miss weight. I mean yeah, he was eating like a donkey, but I really believed he had the weight thing under control. And to be honest, I think he could have made it if he’d pushed through the cut harder.
Manny weighed Anthony at the gym the night before and he was 144 pounds. If he had refrained from eating or drinking anything that night (which is what most fighters do the night before weigh-ins), he should have woken up around 140. From that point, he could have made 136.
I didn’t see much of Anthony for the rest of the night, but I heard that he was in the hot tub drinking kombucha. In fact, after he was sent home, many of my housemates reported seeing Anthony hanging around the kitchen drinking and/or nibbling on food.
I didn’t realize anything was wrong until that morning. Anthony and I were jogging on the treadmills when Ronda came in and asked what was going on. In my mind, everything was fine. I didn’t know that Anthony had woken up a pound heavier than he was when we’d left the gym the previous evening. As the morning went on, things became increasingly tense. The coaches continuously pushed Anthony to keep going, but it was clear that he was slowly giving up. When he stepped on the scale at 140 pounds, I knew it was over.
After weigh-ins, Anthony ran immediately into the sauna, but came out a few minutes later and went into the bathroom. Then he went and sat alone in the kitchen. I walked past and saw him sitting on the floor looking defeated. Part of me wanted to go in and talk to him, but I didn’t know what to say, so I just kept walking.
As everyone saw, Davey got emotional after Anthony was disqualified for missing weight. I’m not sure, but I suspect this is another one of those things that’s hard to understand if you haven’t been through it yourself. Davey himself was thoroughly embarrassed about having cried on camera. “Now me bird is going to think I’m a minge!” he lamented. (English-to-English translation: “Now my girlfriend is going to think I’m a p—y.”) Everyone should know that Davey Grant is not a minge. I think the pressure of the situation got to him.
Think about it: he’d already had two fights in a little over a month, had just finished cutting weight for the third time (and his weight cut was by no means an easy one), and was mentally prepared to go out the next day and fight a teammate to get to the finale. This was something he’d been dreaming of his entire adult life. It was something for which he’d spent countless hours working and making sacrifices. And then it ended like that. Not with a bang, but a whimper. All that energy had been building up inside him, and it had to go somewhere. He couldn’t fight, so he cried instead. I know it sounds silly, but it really does make sense.
So it turns out that this was, indeed, an historic season of TUF. Not only was it the first to include female fighters, but it was also the first in which two fighters missed weight. At the coaches’ challenge, Dana was talking to a group of us and said he thought having a co-ed cast had made the guys “soft.” Too much domestic harmony. Not enough competitive animosity among the fighters. Maybe this is true. I don’t know.
One thing that this season has shown is how much of the sport occurs outside of the cage. When you’re watching a fight, you’re seeing far more than two people trying to overpower and outmaneuver each other. You’re seeing years of hard training and discipline, months of careful dieting, weeks spent continuously visualizing how the fight will play out, and many sweaty hours dehydrating in a tub or sauna. As many fighters have observed, the fight itself is the fun part. Everything leading up to it is the real work.