TUF 26 Episode 1

First of all, okay, holy WHOA with the damn close up camera. My goodness. I knew those interviews would be close up, but it still caught me by surprise to see my big ass face all up on the screen. Note for future contestants, wear some fucking makeup.

 

Secondly, YAY!!!

Yay, all of us! Yay for all us women on TUF 26, kicking off this new division! Yay for all of us that had the balls to go for the belt right out of the gate, to put our bad selves on the line, throw ourselves out there for the whole world to see (close up to the camera and everything). We weren’t afraid to shoot for the stars! One of the women you saw in that episode is going to land among them and be the FIRST female flyweight champion of the UFC!! How fucking bad ass is that?!?!

 

So! All us bad mofos went to the gym for our first time to get picked for our teams.

Eddie Alvarez, coach for the green team, had an amazing coaching staff around him. I knew of a few of them:
Amanda Leve, she’s the blonde woman in the background, and she is a baaaaaad mama-jama. Her grappling is off the hook. He also brought Marlon Moraes, I really enjoyed training with him. And of course, Mark Henry. Mark Henry’s the man.
In my last UFC fight last year, I fought a woman named Kaitlyn Chookagian. Mark is Kaitlyn’s coach and he cornered her. Mark also cornered Frankie Edgar when he fought Ben Henderson, so my coach has met Mark a few times (I train at The MMA Lab with Ben). I know my coach really respects Mark, and I do too. He’s an excellent game planner and all around good dude. The first thing he did when he saw me was ask how my coach was doing, how Ben was doing, etc. He had nothing but great things to say and made me feel very comfortable, and that was before we even picked teams.

As you saw, Eddie had us spar, and they took notes and videos of ALL of us. Not only could they see what we were good at and what kind of fight they could expect from us, since they had notes and videos on everyone, they would have notes and videos of anyone who ended up on the other team, and would be able to use that to plan for the fights in the tournament. I thought that was brilliant.

Sparring was a little nerve wracking. None of us knew each other or what team we would be on, and no one wanted to lose in front of the coaches…but also no one wanted to be that asshole who goes apeshit. So it was a little weird, but we all got through the awkwardness and nerves and were able to show what we had. I watched some of the women spar that day when I was done with my rounds. I was so, so impressed immediately with several of the women- many of whom I didn’t recognize. I thought I would know who most of the women were, or at least have seen them before, but I didn’t. My first sighting of these women was of them whooping someone else’s ass. It really hit me how deep the talent pool really was on this show, and in this division. I guess it hit Eddie, too, because he talked a little on how surprised he was, and how he had a misconception until that day about female fighters.

After sparring, team Alvarez checked our conditioning. They put us on a treadmill to run some sprints and then checked our heart rates to see what kind of shape we were in cardio-wise. After that, they weighed everyone. Coaches on both teams wanted to know everyone’s weight, so we all weighed in, one by one, on the scale kept in the gym. I was really surprised to hear the weights of some of the other fighters. I thought, coming down from 135, I would be one of the bigger women in the house, and hopefully one of the strongest. I weighed about 134 and thought that was a perfect weight range to be in. It was huge surprise to hear some of the other women were quite a bit heavier- some weighed in the 140’s, or even more! I was told by a bunch of people that being a lower weight would be advantageous in the later rounds, so I was still happy with where I was at; I was just surprised to see I wasn’t even close to the biggest in the house. I was somewhere in the middle, a little bigger than the smallest girls.

 

Justin Gaethje was the coach for the blue team. His coaching staff I wasn’t as familiar with, but he had Trevor Whitman, who I had heard of, and two men, Matt Lopez and Luke Caudillo. Both were UFC vets, and in fact, Matt still fights in the UFC today.
When I met Trevor, I was stoked. He was very kind, and put me right at ease. I liked that he and Justin were so focused on our mentality-Why do we fight? Why do we deserve the belt? What kind of experience did we have, and what did we learn from it? Those were some of the questions they asked us. They also had us do wrestling drills, and some bag work. Nothing too competitive with each other, really. I got the impression that these coaches were more interested in our minds than our skills.

Then they picked teams. When it as over, I was happy to be picked for Eddie’s team because I really liked Mark Henry, and Amanda. They were the only two coaches I had met before, so I was already more comfortable with them than anyone else, and I really respected them both.
I also thought, Damn, we have a good team! I couldn’t believe me, Barb, Sijara, and Deanna were all on the same team, because I thought we would be some of the strongest competitors. I was really surprised to hear Sijara was seeded 12th. I thought she would be in the top 4, maybe 5 at the lowest. Another thing that stood out was how talented some of the lower seeded women were. I remember watching some of the women seeded 10-16 spar at the coaches tryouts and thinking Whoa, that girl is really good, so I knew some of the women in the lower seeds were really tough.
When Eddie talked about picking me for his team, he mentioned my Twitter feed, which I thought was pretty hysterical. I mean, I am always willing to fight, and in fact, almost exactly half the fights of my 12 fight career have been against short notice opponents-I just never really thought my Twitter feed would be a factor in…well, in anything really. My Twitter feed is straight up obnoxious sometimes, and I have definitely used it to try and get fights, so to hear Eddie say, “If you go look at a Lauren’s Twitter….”

Joe and I looked at each other and just started cracking up.

Shameless Plug: Go follow my Twitter @LaurenMurphyMMA 😉

After team picks, we went to the house. Listen y’all, I have NEVER been in a house like this. The pictures don’t do it justice. You know when you got statues and shit in the front yard, you’re in a nice house.

statues and shit

That’s a sauna

 

 

 

 

 

Before I left for TUF, my coach told me, “Lauren, if you want to get a good room in the house, sit by the door of the van so you can be the first one in. If you’re the first in the house you can have your pick  of good rooms.”

Barb and I had decided to room together. Barb and I actually really met at tryouts, and we didn’t know each other very well, but we both were Invicta champs and had met in passing a few times, and we respected one another, so we started sticking together. We figured whatever room had a bathroom attached to it, preferably with a bathtub, and four beds, would work for us. I was nervous I would end up rooming with some jackball that I couldn’t stand, so to me, it was really important to get a room with people I liked. I sat by the door of the van like my coach had told me and fucking booked it into the house to get a good room. You can see in the episode I’m the first one in. I remember thinking, “Where is everyone else?” I didn’t understand why not everyone was clamoring to get inside and get a sweet room.
When you walk in the front door, there is a hallway to the left, and one to the right. I went left first, and the first room I came to was a bedroom with a bathroom attached and four beds. I threw my shit on a bunk and yelled to Barb, “How about this one?!” She said, “Sure, works for me”. I was worried if I went exploring and looked into other rooms, the bunks would fill up and we wouldn’t be able to room together.

Yeah, I totally fucked that one up.

The hallway to the right led to other bedrooms wayyyyyy sweeter than the one I picked. Both the other rooms had huge closets and carpeted floors and way bigger bathrooms. Even the bunk beds were better on the other side, much sturdier and nicer. In my hasty quest to get the first/best/sweetest room I picked one of the shittiest rooms in the house. The women who hung back and didn’t give a fuck about it too much ended up wandering down the hall to the left and scored the best rooms.

This was our room:

As I write this, I’m smiling and shaking my head at myself. LOL I am high strung sometimes, people. If I ever end up on TUF again *coughRoxannecough*, lesson learned about picking rooms: look until you find the master bedroom. A huge mansion is going to have one or maybe even two laying around, throw your shit on one of those bunks. Duh, Lauren.

There were four bedrooms in the house, each with two bunk beds in it, so four beds a piece, in four rooms, for 16 of us. Christina and Melinda took the other two bunks in our room, and I can tell you that I am so glad I got the chance to hang out with them. They are both really great chicks, so I did end up having all great room mates, even the room itself wasn’t exactly A plus.

I can’t talk about the house without mentioning the pantry. The pantry was enormous, and when we got to the house, it was all stocked up with food already. It was packed with healthy food, stuff I eat normally, and some stuff I had never heard of. All of us just kept wandering in to the pantry for the rest of the night, and really, for the rest of the season. Sometimes we would go in there and just look around at all the good stuff that was stocked on the shelves. They seriously could have put a couple couches in there for us to sit on, that’s how much we would hang out in the pantry. A-plus for the pantry, and A-plus for the food stocked up in it when we got there.

↑This is the pantry, and this is NOT what it looked like when we walked in. When we walked in, there was a bunch of really good food neatly stocked on every shelf. It was the best room in the house, in my opinion lol

 

 

LOL  I can’t get over that close up camera. Yeesh. That part does NOT get an A plus.

 

Already in this episode, they cut to a scene of me talking about my family and how much I missed them. Separation isn’t new to Joe, Max, or myself-We’ve all travelled by ourselves to see family, and I’ve been gone for long periods for fight camps, or to fight forest fires, once a million years ago. But we’ve gotten closer as a family in the last couple years, and TUF is different because there is NO contact while you embark on an extremely difficult and emotional adventure. Your family knows what you’re trying to do, and they worry too. Knowing that my family was worried about me, made me worry about them even more. And, especially in the beginning, when everything was new and awesome, I wanted to share it with the people I love the most. It actually kind of hurt that I got to be somewhere so cool and different, and do something so unusual, and not be able to share it with the people who helped me get to it. So in the beginning, yeah, I missed them, and even felt a little guilty. And it didn’t get better as the season went on, in fact, in some ways, it got worse-but I will detail that more in later episodes.

So Roxy was slated to fight Shana first.
I was glad not to be the first pick, because I wanted to see how everything worked and get a feel for the fights in the house before my turn. To this day, I am in awe of Shana and her awesome attitude throughout the competition. She didn’t have any more idea about what was going on than any of the rest of us. In fact, the only person who had any idea at all what to expect was Roxy. You wouldn’t have thought it bothered Shana at all. She was ready to fight. She made weight really easy, and when fight day came, I thought she looked great. She was relaxed and confident, it seemed to me.
We all thought she rocked Roxy pretty good with that hard right hand, and maybe she did, but Roxanne has a lot of experience. After Shana tagged her, Roxanne closed the distance ASAP and got Shana to the ground, where Roxy did what Roxy does- she showed off her ground game by getting mount and keeping it. The fight was stopped and that was that. I honestly thought both women looked great.
Shana’s attitude stayed as good after the fight as it was before it. She’s naturally really hilarious and always looking for stuff to do to keep occupied, so after her fight, she was a life saver around the house when the rest of us would get bored and antsy. She was also a good training partner to have on the mats, and always willing to help and learn.

Next week, stay tuned for Deanna vs Karine! Same TUF time, same TUF channel. On to the next!