September 27, 2008

by Matt Riddle – special to MMAWeekly.com

What is up MMAWEEKLY
readers? My name is Matthew Riddle and I have been asked to come on this site
and share with you my thoughts on this season’s Ultimate Fighter 8.


I know you are thinking
who the F is Matthew Riddle and why should I care what he thinks?  Truth is, you shouldn’t care what I
think. I agree with you MMAWEEKLY is crazy for giving me a weekly blog.  Since they did, what I can tell you is
that I love The Ultimate Fighter. 
The Ultimate Fighter is one of the things that made me want to become a
fighter and being on The Ultimate Fighter is making
sensible MMA websites do the unthinkable by letting me write for them.


For those of you that
do not know I was a member of The Ultimate Fighter 7 and I am 1-0 in the
UFC.  During the fights to get into
the house I broke Dan Simmler’s jaw in like three places.  It is important that you know that
because if we ever meet I will likely tell you that story and there may be a
test involved. 


Before TUF, my friend
and I rented a two-bedroom apartment and we converted one of the bedrooms into
a makeshift MMA gym.  We self
taught ourselves MMA using B.J. Penn’s book and watching MMA and of course
trying to never miss an episode of TUF. 
I have watched every season from start to finish and even some episodes
over and over (not just my Simmler knockout, but if you haven’t seen it you
should) and I am a huge fan.  


What I will write about
this season is my views on the show and the fighters that make up the 16
housemates.  My teammate Ryan “Darth”
Bader is on the show, so I will see if I can get any juicy details he may have
and share them with you.  I will
also share with you (very little I promise) what my life has been since
TUF.  I still have my UFC contract
but I am making some changes and adjusting things to try to get myself as close
to top as I can get.  My blogs will
be from a TUF fan, a former TUF cast member and current UFC fighters


This season they are
bringing in 155-pound and 205-pound fighters into one house.  The coaches are amazing and the
assistant coaches and guest coaches they bring in are some of the best fighters
and grapplers in the world.  This
season the fighters are going to rub elbows with the pound-for-pound best
fighter in the world and be coached by two UFC Champs (one a former and I guess
the other now an “interim” champ) that are icons in the sport of MMA.


What you likely do not
know is the 32 cast mates have met before you see them walk into the gym.  About a month or so before they start
taping the show, Spike will fly in a group of guys for medicals and final
evaluations.  All of us stay at
Palace Station Casino and we go through some final interviews and medical screenings.  They bring more than just the 32 they
want because they always want to have alternates.  At this point if, you do not screw up, you have a great
chance of being on the show.  When
I went out I saw C.B., Jesse Taylor, Amir and most of the guys that ended up in
the house.


After you are selected,
Spike will fly you back to Las Vegas and this time you are stripped of all of
your personal belongings (within reason), all communication devices, and we are
put in single rooms.  We are told
we cannot come out of the room and we had no phones in the rooms to
communicate.  If we wanted or
needed anything, we had to slide a piece of paper under the door.  If we opened the door we would be sent
home, it was like being a juror on a major trial.


After about three or
four days of that, they bring us all to the gym to explain the process and
allow us to get on weight.  We all
were weighed when we get off the plane, but if you sat in the room and ordered
a ton of junk food and did not exercise you could easily put on a few pounds.


When you get to the gym,
things go pretty quickly and it is a lot like a wrestling or BJJ
tournament.  Everyone is off in his
own little zone getting ready.  No
one is really making eye contact or even really acknowledging that anyone else
is even in the room.  At this point
it does not matter who they pair you up with, you are
either ready or you need to be ready to go home.


I like this new aspect
of the shows. I think it separates the guys there for TV and the guys there to
fight.  I am not going to lie; I
also liked and miss the challenges from TUF 1.  So all of the fighters are in this warehouse that has been
converted to a gym.  It is loud and
very distracting inside that gym. 
They are about to have the biggest fight of their MMA careers.


As this season’s cast
pours in, we see 16 guys in each weight class.  Ryan Bader, one of my teammates, is seen chewing gum
(something my mom told me not to do) and everyone looks like a gamer.  As we get to meet the guys over the
first two episodes the two ringers (Evans and Guida) that I thought would have
easily made the cut, got sent home. 
One of them went out like a warrior and the other, well not so much.


I think if you made it
that far there is no reason not to be on weight.  You were clearly told what weight to be at and you are
taking someone else’s spot.  Making
weight is MMA 101, and if you cannot do that you have no business to be in this
sport let alone taking the spot of another fighter who would of done just about
anything to get there.  I wonder
what he thought the weight classes were? 
If that was me, I would have been shaving my
head or pummeling in the sauna, not laying on the ground like I was giving


The rest of the fights
are pretty non-eventful.  My
teammate Ryan Bader looked nervous and out of place in his fight against a very
game Kyle Kingsbury.  Having had my
ass handed to me by him on numerous of occasions, I
can assure you that Ryan will impress you this season.  He has great stand up (we did not see
it this time) and he is one of the most dominant wrestlers I have
encountered.  What stood out to me
were the characters that were on the show.  They seemed cocky, but you have to love guys that are calling
out moves and then finishing with them.  


When you get your TUF
contract, aside from being about a million pages too long, I can guarantee you
will never hear a Zuffa attorney on the UG bitching about their pay. Dana must
pay them by the word.  The contract
clearly states that we CAN and WILL edit you and your actions to portray any
character that they see fit.  Spike
has a ton of control over how they portray the fighters.


Amir was not some off
the docks 0-0 green horn. He had been training for almost 10 years.  He had a very successful amateur career
and an extensive Muay Thai background. 
He was the guy that they feed to USA Today early on, and while the
people at home were made to think that he was green, those of us in the house
and those that knew him know differently.  


So with that knowledge
what could any reasonable person be thinking when he compared himself to
Hitler.  I mean, come on. If you
want to be all “gangsta” about things, at least pick someone hardcore that is
not responsible for atrocious acts against other humans.  You know going in that they make you
look like a total asshole and you respond to that by acting like a total
asshole.  I am glad that guy lost,
it is just too bad that we can’t fight to the death sometimes.  You know like American Idol style, if
the guy is a total tool the fans can text and have you finish the guy off.  


I have heard a lot of
talk about the next Anderson Silva being on this show.  After watching the first two episodes,
I did not see it.  I saw a high level
of talent, maybe more overall talent this year then we had last year.  I see a lot of guys that are going to
demand the camera time and seem to have the fighting styles to back it up.  I think this season we are going to
have some of the best fights in TUF’s history. It looks like the Eminem wannabe
steps to Ryan Bader and Dana said that no one can leave unless they get beat
off, which was a perk we did not have last year!


I look forward to
sharing my thoughts with you this season. 
I am also currently getting ready for my next fight at UFC 91 here at
Arizona Combat Sports in Tempe.


Matthew Riddle is a UFC fighter who will join MMAWeekly.com
each week to give his recap of the latest episode of the "Ultimate
Fighter" on Spike TV.  For more info about Matt check out LG Sports Marketing.