Last week, I dreamed that I fought Sarah Moras again, but I had to do everything exactly as I’d done it the first time. I knew all the mistakes I was about to make, but I couldn’t do anything to stop myself from making them. Basically, I was trapped inside my own body watching myself get beat up for a second time.
I’m fully aware how much of a head case I sound like right now, and I don’t care. Y’all have seen me in some pretty unglamorous situations. I mean, seriously. You’ve seen me in my underwear at 135 pounds. You’ve seen me trapped underneath another woman eating elbow after elbow. At this point, I couldn’t feel much more vulnerable than I already do, so screw it. Might as well start revealing my neurotic dreams to you as well. Especially since this particular neurotic dream pretty accurately sums up what it’s like to lose a fight on The Ultimate Fighter.
No matter what, losing hurts. I’m not talking about the obvious physical pain, which to be honest isn’t that bad. I’m talking about emotional stuff. After that loss, I looked back at all the hours I’d spent training, all the work my coaches and training partners had put into helping me, all the sacrifices my family and I had made, and all the time I’d given up with my son. I felt like I’d thrown it all away. I felt like I’d let myself down. I felt like I’d let my coaches and training partners down. More than anything else, I felt like I’d let my son down.
For a few weeks after, I was pretty freaking depressed. But I got over it. Now, four months later, the fight is finally airing for the first time, and I’m living the whole thing over again.
The worst part is anticipating how other people are going to react. Although this was my first MMA loss, I’ve lost before as an amateur boxer and kickboxer. That was different though, mostly because it wasn’t on TV. No one was tweeting or blogging or even talking about it. No one cared. For the first time in my life, I have to deal with losing on a big stage.
I know I’m going to get feedback from people saying I should have done this or I could have done that. I’ve been to plenty of fights and heard the stuff spectators say. It’s usually pretty obvious advice. Stuff like, “Don’t let him take you down!” or my personal favorite, “Punch him!” As a fighter, I’d just like to say: we know. Trust me. We say the same things inside our own heads. But sometimes it’s just not that easy.
You know how sometimes you have a bad day at the office? Well, the same thing happens to fighters, too. Some days, things just aren’t clicking. You can’t get the rhythm, can’t find the angle, can’t gauge the distance. You miss a shot. You sprawl too late. You grab an underhook when you should have kept the whizzer. You make one mistake and then another mistake and the next thing you know, you’re being elbowed in the head and then armbarred.
I don’t want to make excuses, and I definitely don’t want to take anything away from Sarah. She’s a tough chick and a good fighter. But long story short, I screwed up. I know I screwed up. That is all.
￼And while we’re on the subject of screwing up, this is probably a good time to talk about Cody Bollinger missing weight. Anthony, Cody, Sarah, and I had been cutting together in the sauna the previous day, and I’d had no idea anything was wrong. I knew Cody was having a rough weight cut, but so were the rest of us, so it never occurred to me that he wouldn’t make weight.
But then the next day I was lying on one of the sofas in the Team Rousey locker room waiting for it to finally be time to weigh in when I heard that Dana was at the gym. That was the first indication that something wasn’t right. Dana didn’t spend a lot of time hanging around the gym. He was mostly only there for fights or if somebody was doing something they shouldn’t be. A few minutes later, Team Rousey heard the news: Cody had given up. It wasn’t that he missed weight. He wasn’t even trying to make weight anymore.
You all heard the explanation he offered: “I broke.”
It’s hard to understand, I know. Even other fighters who know how mentally and physically challenging a hard weight cut can be will have a hard time understanding what could impel someone to give up such an amazing opportunity. It’s probably even harder for the general public to understand.
Few people will ever endure the sort of deprivation fighters go through during a weight cut. I’m not complaining; it’s what we choose to do. Still, it’s more difficult than anyone who hasn’t been there can understand. You might think that the hunger is the worst, but it’s really the thirst that becomes unbearable. After a while, you get to a primitive state where you really don’t care about anything except getting some moisture back into your body. Your mind starts doing some strange things.
I don’t know what was going on in Cody’s head when he decided to give up and take a drink, but I’m pretty sure it’s a decision he’ll regret for the rest of his life.