Were you surprised? I was. I thought I was going to win that fight. In fact, I thought I was going to win that whole fucking tournament. I didn’t think it would be easy, but I thought I was going to do it. I’ve rarely felt so sure about anything in my life, and the times that I have, I haven’t been wrong. One of the worst aspects of losing that fight, was that I spent a lot of time afterward wondering how I could have been so wrong about something I felt so good about and had worked so hard for. I still wonder, and I still don’t have an answer for that.
The episode starts with a conversation about the goddamn fucking brackets AGAIN.
Look, if I had known it would be such a HUGE deal, I might have kept my mouth shut about them. Okay, actually, I probably wouldn’t have, but I was still surprised that it turned into such a big thing. Here’s a newsflash: everyone in the house was looking at those brackets 5-10 times a day. They were hanging outside the locker room on a 6’ by 10’ poster board. You couldn’t miss ‘em. Everyone looked at them and thought about their next fight, who on their side was the toughest, who they matched up well against, etc. We all talked about it with each other, I was just the only one talking about it in front of a camera. If anyone, anywhere, talks about The Ultimate Fighter and says they ONLY looked at the opponent right in front of them, they’re lying. We all “looked ahead”, and to this day I don’t see too much wrong with it. If you’re going through a tournament and you’re NOT noticing the toughest people around you, you’re doing yourself a disservice. I was working hard to fight Nicco, so I didn’t see a problem, but still, at the time, everyone was like, “Just stay in the moment, don’t worry about the future, stay focused”. I didn’t want to sound like the world’s biggest asshole, so I tried to go with the flow- okay, sure, yeah, staying in the moment.
After telling our stories, we go to weigh ins. I said something about Nicco getting in my face, but when they showed us weighing in, it looked perfectly friendly. I thought, “What the hell was I talking about?” Looking back, if I remember right, Nicco weighed in and got dressed, and as soon as she was decent, she marched right over, kind of quick, and squared up. So of course I squared off too, right where we were. She didn’t just walk over, she came over with some intensity, you know what I mean? You all have seen weigh ins, I’m sure you know what I mean. I just kind of caught me off guard, and a couple people in the bleachers said something about it being intense. After a few seconds I just put my hands down, to show her I wasn’t intimidated. Nicco had already made her point, so she offered her hand and off we went. I don’t know guys, maybe I was just cutting weight and dehydrated, because it seemed pretty dramatic to me at the time. Now? Not so much.
The day of the fight, I was NERVOUS.
I would have acted like that guy if there weren’t cameras around……
Even before getting on the van to go, I couldn’t relax. Now that I’ve seen the episode, I think Justin was spot on- Whoever can control their emotions the best will have a good chance at winning the tournament. Unfortunately, controlling my emotions has never been my strong suit.
Yeah, control my emotions. Ha. Okay.
In the locker room warming up, the mood was really serious, and I was so tense I started feeling really emotional. I didn’t want to talk about it with the coaches, because I didn’t know them very well, so I just warmed up and kept quiet. I could tell Eddie believed in me a lot and I wanted to live up to it. While I was warming up, Eddie told me, “Lauren, when you get into a hard exchange, your next move should be to jab and shoot. I shouldn’t even have to tell you that, you should just know.” Which made me even more nervous. I thought, “I should just know? What do you mean? Oh fuck. What if I don’t know? You’re my corner, you’re supposed to tell me.” But I didn’t want to show any of that, so I just nodded. I kept thinking, “Just fight, no matter how you feel.”
I hated not having my regular coaches there-particularly Joe. I tried to prepare for it at home by having different people coach me during my sparring rounds, but I hated fighting without him. Mark Henry and the original coaches were gone and had been replaced with new ones. I liked the new guys, but I didn’t really trust them. I didn’t know them or their styles very well yet, and I didn’t have a chance to work with any of them much before the fight, except Anderson….. who didn’t speak English.
The fight was really close.
Nicco kicked a lot-I knew she would-but I still couldn’t time them. She also landed shots from weird angles, like back hands after elbows, and punches after kicks that I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t able to hit her as cleanly, so I clinched a lot, trying to get a takedown. But once we got to the clinch, Nicco was really strong. Like, REALLY strong.
Me getting in the clinch with Nicco
That’s probably the thing that really surprised me about her-how much stronger than me she felt. I made a lot of mistakes in the fight and it cost me a chance at the UFC championship. Nicco did surprise a lot of people. And, she was right-she got the victory, and it hurt. It hurt bad. I was sad for weeks afterward.
A couple people have said things along the lines of, “Well, you didn’t have your coaches there, and it’s a weird environment, and there’s no time to game plan really….”
But that’s the point of TUF-everyone is there without their coaches. TUF is about who can fight best, despite all the bullshit. Whoever can win while team training with your opponents, unfamiliar coaches, living in a sequestered house, and all the other weird shit-THAT person is The Ultimate Fighter. So yeah, maybe I would have won if I had had MY coaches-but that doesn’t make a damn bit of difference when the point is to do it without them. I should have been able to put all the nerves aside and fight the way I like to fight-happy, relaxed, having fun. I knew before the fight that that would be one of the keys for me, but when it came time to do it, I either couldn’t or didn’t. It’s the one thing I wish I could change: I wish I had just relaxed. I’ll never know if that cost me the victory or not, but it definitely cost me some peace of mind. Bare minimum, if you’re going to lose you want to go out there and at least have a good time, right?
Someone asked me recently, “If you knew this whole time that you lost, why have you seemed so positive on social media? You’re posting about TUF, and posted about your fight, and you seemed happy. Why so happy coming off a loss?”
For one thing, I’ve had 6 or 7 weeks now to process it. It’s news to everyone else, but I’ve had some time to think about it. And, it does me no good to be negative and shitty about it-it’s over. I have to look ahead and stay positive. Also, its pretty cool to see other women coming up in the sport, right? Nicco is a cool lady, with a good story, and despite hurting for myself, I am actually happy for her, and happy for women’s MMA. Look at us! Look how far we’ve come! Look how deep the division is going to be! There are plenty of underdog, unknown fighters out there that are coming up and are total monsters, and I, for one, can’t wait to see them. There’s plenty to be happy about. I wasn’t lying when I said on the episode that I have an awesome life. I do, and eventually I did get to come home and be comforted by my family. I’m sorry if I disappointed anyone by not getting the win, but rest assured I’ll be working on the things I did wrong and getting better. Life goes on and I will too. Thank you to everyone for all your kind words and support.
Anyway, fight fans, tune in next week! We have Sijara and Maia coming up on deck, and you don’t want to miss it.