Anthony 'El Cucuy' Ferguson talks about the episode of Spike TV's 'The Ultimate Fighter' season 13, what it was like to be on the show, being picked by coach Brock Lesnar and the fight between Nordin Asrih and Shamar Bailey.
What's up, everyone? My name is Anthony Ferguson and I'm a cast member on this season of The Ultimate Fighter. Some of you might know me, but if you don't, be sure to check this link out to learn more. I just want to say I'm excited to be a part of the show and able to share my thoughts here at SB Nation MMA.
As you may have seen, I didn't get a bunch of face time this episode. It's all good, though. I figure I'll get my time before the season is up. It's hard to introduce everyone on the show to America in one episode.
So, it's official: I'm on Team Brock Lesnar. I couldn't be happier about it. Junior dos Santos is an awesome guy and his coaching staff is top notch, but I seemed to get along really well with Lesnar and his coaches. When I was wrestling in college, I used to look up to Lesnar and coach Marty Morgan. Those guys were big dogs in collegiate wrestling and I wanted to be as successful as they have been. During the evaluations, we gelled. I wasn't their first pick and that's cool, but I had a feeling they'd put me on their team. When Dana White said my name and tossed me the jersey, I felt very confident I was in the right place.
Speaking of coach Lesnar, I was star struck. I don't say that very often. I don't say that ever. I couldn't help it this time. When he and coach dos Santos walked into the room I was so stoked. I couldn't believe for a moment I was standing there being a part of the whole thing. He's a larger than life figure. Being in the same room with him and working alongside him lets you know you're doing something very special.
The evaluations weren't hard exactly, but I wasn't surprised Myles Jury was injured. When coach dos Santos evaluated everyone he put them all in the cage at the same time. I'm not sure why they did that, but I guess it was so they could keep a close eye on everyone. That makes sense, but it also put everyone too close together. People were bumping into each other a lot. Myles is a cool dude and a good fighter, so I felt really bad for him. I'm not sure in made sense to have everyone in close quarters like that.
Brock and his coaches put everyone into teams and did things separately during their evals. I'll never second guess either coach, but for me, that system worked better. It was safer and the coaching staff got to get a closer look at everyone.
What I noticed during these evals was that I was doing well. I won't say I did better than everyone, but I did well enough to know I belonged in there. I was competitive with everyone and that gave me a lot of confidence early. The talent on the show was strong, but working alongside them told me I was definitely able to compete with all of them.
Call it a gut feeling, but I knew that coach dos Santos was going to put his best guy against our last pick. I don't know why, but I felt like they wanted their best guy to get early practice. They probably wanted to set the tone early, too.
Some of the other fighters talked about it on the first episode and it was true: Nordin Asrih did have jet lag. We were in a hotel secluded two days before the show kicked off, but Nordin had a hard time adjusting. I know that he didn't look his best in his fight with Shamar Bailey, but Nordin can strike. He's got powerful punches and kicks and is game to the finish. We knew Bailey's wrestling would be a lot for him to handle, but we weren't counting him out at all.
In the fight itself, Shamar smothered him. He never really allowed Nordin to do much. He definitely controlled Nordin and that's why he won, but there wasn't a lot of damage or guard passing. I understand that approach on Shamar's end. In six weeks, there's a lot of training and a lot of fighting. It doesn't make sense to take a bunch of risks early. We saw what happened with Myles. We know injuries happen, but no one wants to take unnecessary risks.
Nordin also couldn't catch a break. The gameplan by coach Erik Paulson wasn't to rush anything. We wanted Nordin to wait for Bailey to get close because we knew he'd close the distance fast. When he got at the right distance, we thought Nordin had the power to end the fight if he picked his shots right. He tried, but when he slipped on the kick we knew it just wasn't his day. Like I said, he's an awesome guy and a great fighter, but between Shamar's wrestling and the jetlag he had too much to overcome.
No one was happy about the loss, but I won't say team morale was down because of it either. It was early in the season. Speaking for myself, I knew I was in capable hands. I'm sure other guys on the team felt the same. Even if things didn't kick off the way we'd hoped, we believed it was only a matter of time before the tide turned.
That's all for right now. Thanks for watching the show and keep tuning in to see more of me! If you want to contact me, get at me on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks again to SB Nation and I'll talk to you guys next week!