I remember watching previous seasons of TUF and seeing fighters cry because they missed their wives, girlfriends, kids, or dogs and thinking to myself, “what a p—y.” I mean, most seasons of TUF are only six weeks long. How hard can it really be?
The answer, I discovered, is really effing hard. Probably the corniest lesson I learned from the whole experience is how much I rely on my friends and family for support. I’d only been in the house a few days when I started feeling homesick, and that homesickness only got worse as the season progressed. I think everyone in the house felt similarly, but it was definitely hardest for those of us with children.
As you probably know, we weren’t allowed to have contact with anyone outside of the house. This meant that we couldn’t call to check on things back home. For me, the most difficult part of this was that I had no idea how my son was dealing with my absence. Before I left, I’d tried to explain to him what was going on. He’s only three, so explaining that I was about to spend six weeks in Las Vegas filming a reality show presented some unique challenges. Ultimately, I ended up explaining the whole thing in terms of The Lion King. The conversation went something like this:
Me: What’s your favorite movie?
Oliver: The Yion King.
Me: Okay, so you know that part when Simba goes away to live with Timon and Pumba for a while and none of the other lions see him for a while, but then he comes back and everything’s cool? Well, mama’s going to go away for a while like Simba did, but I’ll be back just like he was.
Oliver: You’re going away with Simba?
Me: No. I’m going to Las Vegas.
Oliver: You’re going to Las Baygus with the Yion King???
Me: Yeah. Kinda.
Long story short, I wasn’t sure how thoroughly my own personal man-cub understood the situation. Did he think I was living it up in Las Baygus with his favorite Disney friends? Did he think I’d abandoned him? Did he think I was dead? Had he forgotten about me altogether? I had no way of knowing. And to be honest, I tried to avoid thinking about it too much because I knew it would only distract me. But the brain has a way of traveling down paths we wish it wouldn’t, so it was on my mind a lot.
On Father’s Day – the same day Cody Bollinger was caught crying on camera – I wrote the following in my journal:
“Last night I was falling asleep and I dreamed I was home and seeing Oliver for the first time. Like I really saw his little face in my dream, and it was like being sucker punched in the stomach. I woke up crying. Even writing this now, I’m fighting the urge to cry.”
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that Cody wasn’t a p—y for crying. I promise you, being on The Ultimate Fighter is a lot harder than it looks.
Fortunately, we had each other for distraction. Many people have asked me if Anthony is as much of an a-hole as he seems to be on TV. He is. But he’s an endearing and amusing a-hole. I think most of the members of Team Rousey came to see him as an annoying little brother.
Every morning, someone would have to go upstairs and make sure Anthony was awake so that he didn’t sleep through morning practice. He always forgot to bring his gear. He never ordered his own food, but just pillaged other people’s. Instead of washing his dishes, he’d throw them in the sink for someone else to clean later. He pestered us. He harassed us. But he also entertained us.
For example, the day after Jessamyn and Raquel’s fight, I woke up to discover that the house had been flipped inside out. Everything that had been outside was inside, and everything that had been inside was outside. The entryway between the kitchen and the bar area was lined with potted shrubs, and the barbecue and all of the patio furniture were wedged awkwardly into the kitchen. Meanwhile, the kitchen table was outside, and the chairs were at the bottom of the swimming pool.
I knew something had happened overnight because when I opened my bedroom door, the cameras were right there waiting to film my reaction. I probably disappointed everyone by not really caring. I stepped over the shrubs, maneuvered around the tables and chairs, and found the coffee maker. I brewed some coffee and that sat in the middle of the chaos drinking it, while Jessica Rakoczy scrambled to impose enough order so that she could cook breakfast.
I think it’s fairly obvious that Dana is not a fan of Josh Hill’s wrestling – er, I mean, fighting – style. After the fight, Dana pulled Mike aside and said, “You’re exactly the sort of fighter I like! Someone who can keep guys like that from taking you down and wrestle-(expletive) you to death!” It was a good win for a good guy, and Mike deserved the praise.
The announcement for my fight against Sarah Moras was pretty anticlimactic. Obviously, as soon as the fight between Jessamyn and Raquel was announced, Sarah and I knew we would be facing each other. One thing I never realized as a viewer is just how awkward those staredowns are.
You guys only see a small part it; those staredowns go on for-freaking-ever. Seriously, they’re at least a minute long. And it’s really hard to look tough for a whole minute, especially when the person you’re trying to make I’ll-Kill-You eyes at is someone you’ve lived with for four weeks and with whom you ate breakfast that morning.
Even though the fight announcement wasn’t a surprise, it was still a relief to know I would finally, finally, finally be getting into the cage. Waiting and waiting and waiting to fight was starting to make me truly nutty, and I was excited that my moment had finally come.