It was the first day in “The Ultimate Fighter” house, and let me tell you, it was pretty crazy. The house was huge, full of liquor and food, and, right away, Jeff Lentz and I went to drinking, just a few shot here and there to celebrate our victories.
After exploring the house and chilling in the pool, everyone began to share a little bit about themselves, and I threw in a couple of far-fetched stories about hunting and killing wild and dangerous animals. I don’t think I convinced them, and, by that time, everyone thought I was in over my afro, which was good. I thought, “Now, they won’t take me as seriously.”
Anyway, we all found our own place in the house. I was stuck in an upstairs room with about six other dudes, which made it hard to sleep every once in a while. The fact that the beds were two sizes too small did not help, either. We took our last drink -- at least Cody McKenzie and I did -- and it was off to bed to prepare ourselves for the team selection process the next day.
The following morning, we were all very excited, and it was not long before the vans arrived to take us to the gym. Once there, they had us line up and wait for the coaches. There were 14 fighters, two coaches and, of course, UFC President Dana White. It was time for the picks. Dana flipped a coin, and Josh Koscheck won the first pick. With it, he selected Marc Stevens. It was nerve racking. I wanted to be on Georges St. Pierre’s team so badly that every time it was Koscheck’s turn to pick, I kind of hid behind the other fighters, hoping my chances of ending up on Team GSP would be maximized.
At the end, even though I was the fourth pick, it was awesome to wind up on his team. After all the picks were made, they sent Koscheck’s team home and gave us the gym for our first training session. It was great, and before we knew it, the time had come for the first fight to be made. Georges called a team meeting to discuss who would fight first, and the minute the question was thrown out, everyone began to tell him what was ailing them. It was ridiculous, so I stepped up and told him I wanted to fight first since no one else was going to.
When GSP asked me who I wanted to fight, I answered: Jeff Lentz. All we had to do was wait until the next day to make it official. Once Jeff found out I picked him, he began to pick me apart publicly and started watching me like a hawk. For someone who said he was going to break right through me, he seemed awfully nervous. The day before the fight was really easy -- no words, no worries and no hard training. I just mentally and spiritually prepared myself with some meditation and a little yoga.
Fight day came, and it was time to show my team what I was capable of. Inside the locker room, I was so excited that I did not really warm up. All the anxiety floating around took care of that. It felt like it took ages, just sitting there waiting to fight. When they gave me the signal to enter, I made my way to the cage and awaited my opponent’s arrival. Jeff came sprinting out of the double doors and forward rolled into the cage. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to be intimidating, but to each his own, I guess. Referee Herb Dean asked us if we were ready, and we both nodded. It was time to fight.
I took the center of the Octagon and began testing the waters with some fancy kicks and movement. Jeff rushed at me, but I caught him with a nice inside leg kick that happened to check him between the legs. He shrugged it off and proceeded to hold me against the fence for almost the entire first round. I must admit, it really frustrated me. Towards the end of round one, we broke apart and exchanged. As I tried to push forward, he caught me in a nice hip throw and won the first round decisively. I couldn’t really hear anything from the coaches in my corner, except reminders to breathe. Then Jeff cried out from the other side of the cage, “I got you buddy.” I thought to myself, “Not for long.”
With that, the second round began, and I tried desperately to turn the fight into a striking match. Once again, Jeff pinned me against the fence. After some time, he tried another throw, but I was ready, spun around behind him and brought him to the floor, where we scrambled. He wound up on top. This was the beginning of the end for Jeff Lentz.
He landed a couple of elbows that really hurt, but I regained my guard, secured one of his arms and locked in a triangle choke. He slammed me and squirmed, but I knew he would never get out of it. I coaxed the tapout, even after he had said he would never tap out if he found himself caught in a submission. So much for that. From there, it was back to the house. It was my turn to talk smack.