So, that's it. The season is over. It was a fun and strange experience, but I'm so glad I did it. I'll get into my fight from last night as well as Ramsey Nijem's battle with Chris Cope. Before that, make sure you read all of my recaps here at SB Nation MMA: there's week 9, week 8, week 7, week 6, week 5, week 4, week 3, week 2 and week 1.
This episode opens with me trying to talk to Chuck O'Neil the morning after the incident went down with me and Charlie Rader. I knew something was wrong, but like I said last week I wasn't really clear about what I specifically said. When Chuck wouldn't talk to me, I got a bad feeling. It must've been way worse than I thought it was.
What you didn't see was the time delay. After I cleaned up and no one was talking to me, I just decided to leave the situation alone. I talked to the show's producers to do some interviews and they filled me in. Obviously what I heard was not good.
I knew I had to apologize and acknowledge my mistake. I had to man up, but I wanted to make sure I apologized to everyone at once. How did they take it? Not great. They each took turns scolding me, one by one. I knew I had to take it and not walk away. I had to make sure they said everything they had to say. It felt like I was being lectured by my parents.
Here's what you don't know: my team made a collective decision to not help me train for my fight. They all told me that morning after the drunken incident I was on my own. I'd say there was almost a week's distance between that morning and the day of my fight. I spent a lot of time shadow boxing and training myself. It sucked and it was lonely, but I was left with no choice. I still had a fight, so I couldn't let it get me down.
Chuck had a lot of people to roll with and help him prepare. Me? I found my way towards the boxing ring and just prepped myself. And the guys on the team were watching me day in, day out.
The coaches, Brock Lesnar and Marty Morgan, mostly stayed out of it. I heard Len Bentley said something to them about how the team wasn't going to help me. The coaches never turned their back on me. They helped me as they normally would just without any training partners. That didn't bother me. I wasn't going to make any excuses about what happened. I was going to deal with it and still win.
The only two people who were really supportive of me was Javier Torres and Nordim Asrih. They decided they would forgive me and understood people made mistakes. I am very grateful for their understanding. You also heard them both cornering me in Spanish, which we knew would throw off Chuck. My Spanish isn't perfect, but I understand a lot. I heard all of their instructions and Chuck later told me he had no idea what they were saying to me.
To take my mind off of everything I wrote in my journal. I wrote to my parents and wrote to my girlfriend. Just being able to put happy thoughts to ink helped me smile and inspire me.
So what about Ramsey's fight with Cope?
I always knew Ramsey was tough. Like I said before, I fought his roommate Brock Jardine. Both Jardine and Ramsey, who train at the same team, have the same style and approach to the game. I saw Ramsey during the competition grow. There was no doubt in my mind he was a formidable opponent. I also knew Cope was really underrated. His takedown defense had come a long way, his cardio was on point and he had decent striking. It didn't surprise me at all that he stopped all of Ramsey's take downs in the first round.
But then Ramsey does what he does best: pressure, make it an ugly fight, suck guys into his game. Cope put up a decent scrap in the first round, but succumbed in the second. While Cope had improved takedown defense, we knew a wrestler like Ramsey had a few tricks up his sleeve to either get the fight to the floor or confuse Cope enough for him to make a mistake. That's exactly what he did. You can't win a fight on your heels, defending the entire time. Eventually Ramsey took away everything Cope uses to win and stuck him hard. That was all she wrote.
Then came time for me to face Chuck. Despite all that had happened, I was in the zone. I knew I could win and knew exactly what I had to do to win. More importantly, it was a reckoning. These guys had to know I was there for business. I had a statement to make. I had to win without controversy. I had to beat Chuck up and let everyone know I meant nothing but business.
I knew Chuck was going to try to counter off my jab, so I wanted to use more head and trunk movement to throw him off. Slowly but surely, everything started opening. My left hook started finding the mark, then my jab, then my inside lead leg. The plan was to pick him apart with a lot of different looks. You'll notice, though, I dropped Ryan with an uppercut. I feel like I've got a ton of different strikes that land in high percentage. I wanted to show them to Chuck, to Dana White and to everyone who wondered what was going to happen in the fight.
I dropped Chuck once, but backed off the first time. The second time it was different. I nailed him with an inside leg kick. That forced him to lean and look for the head hunting punch, so I went hard to the body. He crumpled from there and I jumped. Referee Herb Dean did his job and I don't think anyone would argue with how decisive it was.
You see me yelling on top of the cage after my win. I was yelling "it's my time". It was. For the longest I've been working for others or doing things that didn't really help me. Finally I was doing the right thing for me, my family, my loved ones and my career. I was putting it all together and it felt amazing. After that hard, long, lonely week, that was pure vindication.
It's me and Ramsey at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale. I already feel great, I've got a great gameplan and I've had a fantastic camp for this fight. I am not doubting Ramsey's ability to win this, but I will not let him take away my dreams from me. This is my time.
Thanks for all of the support over these past few weeks and watching me fight. Get at me on Twitter or Facebook. I want to say thanks again to SB Nation for letting me come here and tell my story on this journey.
This Saturday is the biggest fight of my life. Just like I've always done, I'm headed to the fight dressed well, full prepared with my dream box tightly clenched in my hand.
This is my time.