When I first heard that a season of The Ultimate Fighter featuring female bantamweights was being planned, I wasn’t sure I wanted to try out. I knew it was a huge opportunity and that I would regret it deeply if I didn’t at least attempt to get on the show, but I had serious misgivings.
The first of these was obviously my son: I knew it would be difficult for me to leave him for six weeks, and I was concerned about how my absence would affect him.
My second concern was the weight class.
I’m a big girl. I’m six-foot-one and if I’m eating whatever I like, I walk at around 165 pounds. Prior to my elimination fight, I’d fought three times at 135, so I knew I could make the weight. I also knew that making 135 pounds is incredibly difficult for me and hard on my body, and I was nervous about making that weight multiple times in a six-week period. In the end, though, I decided that the benefits of being on the show would outweigh (pun totally intended) whatever sacrifices I would have to make. So I went for it.
Long story short, I knew the weight thing would suck. But like many things in life, I had no idea just how badly it would suck until I actually experienced it. I kept a journal while I was living in the house. If I’m ever diagnosed with a terminal illness, my first act will be to burn said journal because it contains a whole lot of whining that I don’t want to be remembered for. Much of that whining has to do with how hungry I was.
“The car rides to and from the gym are torturous. We pass so many restaurants: IHOP, Outback Steakhouse, McDonald’s, In-and-Out Burger. I would do some morally questionable things for a cheeseburger and a chocolate milkshake right now. I am literally starving to death.”
“I’m not happy about being the last female fight. I’m starving and edgy and I just wanna do this already.”
So anyway, I was pretty miserable. To make matters worse, the house was a fat kid’s paradise. There was pizza and ice cream and cookies and cake and potato chips and cheese doodles and every other class of junk food imaginable. And if a treat we wanted wasn’t there already, all we had to do was write it down on a list and it would be on the kitchen table the next morning when we woke up. It was like a gastrointestinal fairyland… unless you were starving. Then it was like a hell populated by demons wielding quesadillas and ice cream sundaes instead of pitchforks.
I dealt with the temptation by avoiding the kitchen as much as possible. And by “avoiding the kitchen,” I mean “spending most of my time lying in bed, pouting.” Seriously. Ask any of my roommates and they’ll tell you: I slept nearly all of the time.
Cody and Anthony, on the other hand, took the opposite approach and ate pretty much whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Pancakes for breakfast? Yeeaaahhh buddy! Pizza for lunch? Why the eff not? Wanna make a steak? You know it, bro. Oh, and that ice cream Jessica was saving for after her fight? Yeah, we’ll just go ahead and eat that, too.
Obviously, both teams were concerned about Cody and Anthony’s diets. Pretty much the worst thing a fighter can do on TUF is miss weight, and none of us wanted to see either of them make that mistake. Everyone on Team Rousey, but especially the women, nagged Anthony about his overeating. We’d ask him about his weight. We’d remind him that he could be fighting within the next few days. We’d tell him that he was just going to make things harder on himself. He wouldn’t listen, or he didn’t care. “Peggy, baby,” he said, “why would I wanna have an easy weight cut when I can have a dramatic weight cut.” So I, for one, gave up. Anthony’s an adult, I figured. He’s had more pro fights than I have. Let him do his thing.
One of the reasons it was so difficult to stop ourselves from eating everything in the house was that we really didn’t have much else to do. As I’ve mentioned before, we didn’t have television or radio or Internet or anything to distract us. Other than training and sleeping, the only thing we had to do was hang out with each other, and it didn’t take long for us to run out of things to talk about. After awhile, we started having the same conversations on repeat. Popular subjects included: how much we wanted animal fries from In-and-Out Burger, the movies we wanted to see as soon as we “got out,” the lyrics to songs we could only half remember, and how much we missed our families, friends, and cellular phones.
Not surprisingly, whenever someone new was introduced into our environment, we more or less attacked them. The woman who braided our hair before fights probably felt like she’d been thrown into a shark tank because the minute she came into the house we’d surround her and start chattering. The same was true for our guest coaches, the first of whom (for Team Rousey, at least) was Ronda’s mom, AnnMaria De Mars.
If we freaked Dr. AnnMaria out with how eager we were to talk to her, she freaked us out a little, too. In my journal, I described Ronda’s mom as “a little intimidating.” I wrote: “She demonstrated an armbar drill on me and for a second I was afraid she was going to tear my arm off. She’s a very intense, very caffeinated woman.”
Ronda herself said we’d “understand her much better” after meeting her mother. And it’s true. After talking to AnnMaria, I can see where Ronda gets her fierceness and competitiveness. You don’t want to end up on Ronda Rousey‘s bad side, but I’m pretty sure it would be a far worse thing to piss off her mother.
As for the fight itself: I don’t know if you remember Davey Grant’s elimination fight, but he is a squeaking beast. Outside of the cage, Davey’s the funniest mammerjammer alive, but in a fight, he’s about eighteen different types of crazy. So I knew Louis-Who-Lives-With-His-Parents was doomed… it was just a question of how quickly and brutally Crazy Davey would finish him.
Although there are no words to describe how devastated I was when Ronda chose Jessamyn to fight next instead of me, I was excited to see her and Rocky rip it up in the cage. As soon as the announcement was made, I knew that this match had the potential to be Fight of the Season.