by Dean Amasinger, Special to MMAWeekly.com

The Eliminators

(Dean Amasinger
is one of the U.K. team members on season nine of The Ultimate Fighter and is
blogging for MMAWeekly.com throughout the season, providing his thoughts and
behind the scenes take on the show.)


The Eliminators.


So here I am at the Wolfslair and Dana and Mike arrive, what
the episode doesn’t show was that when we were waiting we had already done our
weight cut and were waiting to be weighed in, ergo some of the gaunt faces in
the opening shot when the 16 fighters are lined up (Dave, I’ve seen you look
better mate, LOL). My weight cut for this fight had gone really well and I woke
up the morning of the weigh-in at 177 pounds, which meant I only had to sauna 6
pounds. I did my usual albolene/sauna suit routine, but James Wilks was also in
the sauna with me and showed me the trick of breathing from a bag of ice to
cool the air you breath whilst still keeping your body hot and sweating while
in the sauna. Sometimes half the battle of being in a sauna is how hard it is
to breath and this technique definitely made it more bearable.


At this point Dana gave the speech that you see on the
episode, but also matched us with our opponents. Before getting to the
Wolfslair, I wasn’t sure of who the other fighters where going to be. I
obviously had an idea from who was in Vegas for the medicals, but not a
definite 16. When Dana was calling out the names I was excited to hear who I
had to fight because, from the moment they had gathered us in the gym, I was
trying to second guess who I would be matched against. At first I thought they
might make a rematch between Dave and I, or match me against Nick because we
have similar records, but to be honest, I thought of a reason why they would
match me with any of the other seven guys.


When Dana announced that I would be fighting Alex Reid, I
had mixed emotions. I felt happy because I knew I matched up well against him
stylistically and, as I had seen him fight before, I was determined to beat him
as I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I lost to a person who had worn
pink sequined hot-pants in a fight. In fact, the first live MMA show I went to
Alex was fighting and even then I thought I’d love to beat him. To give Alex
his dues, he has been in with some of the best and a win against him would be a
good scalp.


While we were waiting around for medicals and to be
weighed-in, I took my opportunity to remind Dana of a bet we had made when I
was last in Vegas. I bet him $100 that Pacquiao would beat De La Hoya and I
wanted to collect my money! I walked over to him and said, “I told you Pacquiao
would smash him!” He nervously smiled and I realized that he hadn’t remembered
the bet, but I wasn’t going to let it go. “Remember, we bet $100 on the De La
Hoya fight.” He was like, “Oh (expletive), yeah!” He pulled out a wad of 100’s
and gave me one off the top. I thought to myself, “(Expletive), I should have
said we bet $500!”


Once we weighed in I was able to rehydrate, although the
waiting around for the medicals and the filming had meant that from the time I
had made weight to being weighed in was about three hours. Anyone that has cut
weight before will tell you that that would not be nice! When I had my first
sip of water, I looked at it in astonishment at how good it tasted. I had to
read the label to check whether it was holy water, it tasted that good!


On the day of the fight I felt really good. I had
rehydrated, eaten plenty of food, and was ready to go. I was happy to find out
that Dave Jackson and Mario Sukata would be cornering me, as they would be the
assistant coaches on the show. At this point I didn’t feel nervous at all and
the warm up went well. When the producers called my name I knew the next 10
minutes could change my life, this is when the nerves kicked in.


I could hear Alex shouting in his changing room, “Woo! It’s
Reidinater time!” but that only gave me more of an incentive to beat him. It
wasn’t the fight that was making me so nervous though. I was confident in my
ability to beat Alex. It was the situation and how much was staked on it.


I walked to the cage and looked to my left to see Rich
Franklin (aka Jim Carrey), Dan Henderson, Dana White, and Michael Bisping all
looking at me. The UFC music was pounding out from the speakers and I just
couldn’t believe my dream was becoming a reality. It’s like having to score a
penalty at Old Trafford (albeit an empty one) in front of Sir Alex Ferguson,
Ronaldo, and Rooney… the pressure was on!


I was disappointed to see that only highlights of my fight
were shown. I think if the whole fight were televised, people would have seen
that I won the first two rounds and it should never have gone to a third. In
short, I think my nerves played a massive part in my performance. I was in the
best shape I had ever been for that fight, but you cannot account for the
effect of adrenalin. I think I respected his stand up too much and didn’t
respect his ground game enough. (i.e., Nearly being put to sleep and gargling
on national TV from a triangle!) Like Mike said, I was getting the better of
the stand up and I should have kept it there and maybe I could have finished
the fight. I am happy with the win and after watching the episode I have to
wonder… What did Alex see in my soul that made him lose the fight?!


The other fights were as exciting to watch live as they
appeared on the show. The two match-ups that stood out on paper were the Ross
Pearson vs. A.J. Wenn and Che Mills vs. James Wilks fights. Having trained with
Ross on a regular basis, I knew how good he was and what he had to offer. I had
also seen A.J. fight Andre and I knew he was game. Ross showed composure,
technique and aggressiveness that ultimately was too much for A.J. A.J. was
lucky to make it out of the first round and Ross made short work of him in the
second with a lovely one-two combo.


The Wilks/Mills fight was interesting because Mills was an
early favorite to go all the way, but having previously trained with James, I
knew what a ground wizard he was and Che was in for a hard day. Unlike the
other U.K. fighters, Wilks has had all his professional fights in the U.S., so
no one had seen his fights or was familiar with his style. The fight was quick,
with Mills being aggressive and coming forward, but after an initial exchange
and a scramble, Mills somehow ended on top. A leg lock and heel hook
specialist, Wilks pounced on Mills’ stray leg and got the submission, but not
before taking some heavy shots.


The standard of the eight fights was very high, with great
performances from both winners and losers. I am confident that we have a great
team to go over to Vegas and do the U.K. proud. Although they’re going to have
to put sleeping powder in a burger or something because, “I ain’t getting’ on
no plane!”