TUF 16 Coach’s Blog: Ron Frazier On the Difficulties of Coaching the Show at Home in Vegas

October 18, 2012

Ultimate Fighter 16 assistant coach Ron Frazier talks about the difficulties of coaching the reality show and living in the same city, plus wondering why so much attention was paid to Team Carwin’s “special guests”.

Before we get to the fights in episode 5, let’s get the back story. Team Carwin and Team Nelson are taking different approaches to training the fighters. Shane has brought the guys that train him for his fights from Denver, Colorado. And they are taking the approach like a regular training camp for a team. Team Nelson is looking at it like a 6 week tournament with only one guy being able to win.

Team Carwin coaches made sacrifices to leave their families to coach on the Ultimate Fighter while having the luxury of having a 6 week vacation of everyday life and obligations. With the Ultimate Fighter taking place here in Vegas, Team Nelson had to balance around work and family obligations.

Roy Nelson is an expectant first time father so he needs to balance the needs of his 7 month pregnant wife, training for the guys and his own training schedule. Myself, I have to balance being a dad to a 3 year old, train my pro and amateur fighters at the House of RYU training center whom have upcoming fights. Also get treatment for an autoimmune disease called Myasthenia Gravis.

Anthony “Downtown” Brown is a full time metropolitan police officer that has more than 25 years in the kickboxing world. James Johnson is one of Roy’s closest friends, sparring partner and has spent years in the boxing and kickboxing world. Jeff “No Labels” Mayweather has a stable of boxers he must attend to as well. We fought twice a week. On those days, morning practices were the rule of the day. Then everybody attended the fights. The two others days, we did two a day practices, so this notion Team Nelson sat around 21 hours a day is BS.

While some of these guys are young, they are grown men and professional athletes. We have guys who are active military with kids. Others spent time in war zones or are just parents and they are fighters, no shrinking violets here. If we did not have special guest coaches in then we designated one person to warm everybody up each session. People wanted to do their own stuff then complain about structure.

I should only have to tell you once what to do, if you do your own thing fine. It is really not this hard maybe it is my short comings as a coach and former professional athlete. You know what’s needed you know what you were told, so do it. You are a professional and an adult. As stated from day one if you need something just ask, we as a staff will get you what you need.

Team Nelson watched film as well. We knew the strengths and weaknesses of both teams. Trying to implement a game plan in 1 to 3 practice sessions for a particular fight is what it came down to. If you have control you had a little leg up but mostly it was evenly matched guys, it came down to the will and mental power of that fighter that day.

It is not like the UFC told Team Nelson and Team Carwin bring us 8 welterweights a piece, hold tryouts and come in with guys you know. Guys you like and have chemistry with. No, they fight to get into the house, then we pick but not totally blind cause we get a glimpse of what they can do. But not much time to evaluate talent. So instead of trying to convince them of the team and buy into the coaches. We shared knowledge and tried to get them to believe in themselves.

Team Carwin is in control of the pick. Back at the house tension is at a boiling point as Julian is still emotional about his loss to Bristol. Matt Secor adds fuels with what he thinks are innocent comments. Really more like trying to push an emotional kids buttons. Oh wow it worked. Julian wants to punch him in the face. Matt came off as an ass more than a innocent victim of Julian tirade. Considering Matt survived his fight to get in the house. The kid he fought was beating him, gassed and got submitted. Props to him for perseverance but as Matt pro claimed how great he was after the fight, coaches were looking at how not to pick him.

On to the fights Team Carwin takes their No. 7 choice, Igor Araujo, and puts him against Team Nelson’s sixth selection, Nic Herron-Webb. Shane believes the two are well-matched in the grappling department, but he thinks Igor’s striking will prove to be the difference. The stare down is spirited, and Igor puts his forehead on his opponent’s. Nic responds with a little slap to the face. It’s like one big show for the cameras but neither really want to fight.

Back to the show, it’s time to meet Igor, who comes from Brazil but now lives in New Mexico to train with Team Jackson. He reveals he’s the son of a journalist who started jiu-jitsu in 2000 and took an MMA fight in 2004 to have money to pay the rent. Now, he says, he fights to provide for his children. Shane Carwin brings in “TUF 8? veteran Eliot Marshall who comes in to help Igor prepare for the bout. Which is weird since we brought in UFC guys to help like Nick and Nate Diaz, Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez, but we just don’t get any love at all.

Why not show UFC guys to help promote? Plus Nick who came in to help the show and show his softer side. We chalk it up to the big guy knows what fans want to see. It is always so confusing.

While Shane believes in Igor’s stand up I cornered him to get into the house did not see much in the stand up department. He too was getting controlled in his fight until his more gifted foe gassed and went to empty. Igor got the submission he wanted and needed to move on. But I know Igor like many others do this to put food on the table. It is a hard way to make a living. Mean while Team Nelsons likes this match up. Nic is a talented kid self adamantly lazy. Decent Jits so we did not fear him getting subbed, Also has above average hands and wrestling when he so desires. So for Nic in this fight he told us he needed to unleash the beast. His saying to get himself going to amp him up to fight. So the game plan was to keep the fight standing and grapple only to get the fight back standing.

Round 1 – Igor opens with a knee and a high kick before slipping a punch and driving in for a takedown. Nic gets taken down and is in guard and brings his left leg up in a threatening position before Igor pulls back and then presses into half-mount. He patiently passes his right leg as well and settles into mount. Roy yells for Nic to push on his opponent’s hips and shrimp to work for a better position, but he instead opts for a body lock, and all that does is keep him mounted. Nic finally bucks, but he simply settles on to his knees, and Igor takes his back. Igor lands a few punches but makes sure not to lose the position. Igor looks to get his hands under the neck. Nic defends well, but he’s offered nothing in the way of a counterattack. Roy pleads and begs for Nic to try anything in the final minute of the round, but he simply turtles and settles for survival.

Round 2 – Between rounds, we want Nic to step things up. Igor opens with another takedown attempt, and Nic tries to counter by defending and moving to a kimura, which puts him back on his back in a bad position. Igor counters with a transition to an armbar. It looks threatening, but Nic pulls free and settles into top position. Igor is busy underneath as he looks for triangle chokes and opportunities to sweep. Nic keeps dominant position, but he’s not scoring much as he should, with a few elbows and punches. Igor finally hits a sweep a little past the halfway mark of the frame. We don’t want Nic to settle for fighting from his back because he needs this round to make this to go to round three. Nic scrambles as time winds down, and just when it looks like he’ll hit a sweep, he transitions instead to his opponent’s legs. He looks for a few options but lets it go in favor of working back to top position. Still, he’s complacent once there, and the round ends before he can do much damage. Round ends, and as a team we think it should go to a third round. UFC President seems to think a third round is on the way. Except it isn’t.

The fight is over when it should have been a third round. Igor is clearly gassed and relieved the fight is over. While Igor controlled Nic the first round. In no way shape or form was that a 10-8 round. And while Nic did not do a lot of damaged he controlled Igor for about 75% of the second round. When Igor had his moment he did nothing. Judges are professionals and they have a job to do and should get it right. But time and time again we see them fail. It is not right, I know people say finish the fight but sometimes that is not possible. So the judges that are paid should know how to score a fight. If they get decisions wrong on a consistent basis, maybe they should not be judges anymore.

Team Carwin maintains control. How long will it last? Will Team Nelson rebound? Tune in Fridays on FX.

You can follow me on twitter @RonFrazier22 or Stop by The House Of RYU Athletic Center if you are in or passing through Las Vegas.