Dan Cramer’s TUF7 Blog – Week TwoBy Dan Cramer, Team Rampage

Fight selection days are always a little nerve racking. We were all here to fight, and there was no question we'd be fighting sometime relatively soon, but just going in there having no idea who until 24 hours before weigh-in always played with your mind a little.

Every night before a normal fight I lie in bed at night and play through scenarios in my mind of situations I might encounter with my opponent. Normally though, I know who my opponent is well in advance and what my game plan will be and what their style is. In the house, you needed to be ready to fight ANYONE within 48 hours notice. So instead of one fight matchup going through my head at night, I had eight different possible matchups and all the different scenarios. Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well.

At the end of the day though, we came here to fight, and all of us had already gotten one under our belts so that made things a lot easier in terms of anxiety. I think everyone thought they were going to get picked for one reason or another during the fight selections. After the first selection, I was just anxious to get in there again. Waiting around, not knowing, took a toll mentally. Another severe disadvantage of not having the ability to pick the fights is that you couldn't gauge your training at the right times. You didn't want to train really hard on Monday morning and find out later that day you'll be cutting weight the next day and fighting the day after. Without knowing when you'd be picked, it was really hard to coordinate the intensity of your training so it could be beneficial for the fight.

This week, Dante Rivera and Matt Riddle were shown getting into it, and man, the arguing between these two guys was hilarious. I don't think anyone really got too worked up about it. Both guys have a good sense of humor, but at the same time knew how to push each other’s buttons. I give Dante a lot of credit for getting into it with Riddle. There's not much you can say to the kid that he hasn't either already said about himself, or really cares too much about. It's hard to get under his skin. Also, as you'll find out later, Riddle WILL get his revenge on you. I saw Riddle the other day at the TUF 8 tryout and I had to lock myself in the car to take a nap for fear he would do something to me when I was sleeping. Watching these guys argue provided constant comedy for everyone though and helped loosen the mood a bit around the house.

As you can tell from the footage shown already, Rampage has been great as a coach. He really brought our team together like a family from day one. Even during some hard practices he was always cracking some sort of joke to make everyone laugh. At the same time though, he made sure we got our work done. He definitely found a perfect balance between work and play at practices.

Another great thing he did as a coach was understand that we were only there for six weeks. In such a short time, it would be impossible to switch around someone’s overall fighting style or teach them any new complicated techniques or styles. He helped us work the basics a lot, and for a guy like me with lesser experience than most of the others, it really helped a lot. He showed me a lot of basic moves that he is still using in his title fights. He always said stick to the basics because that’s what works, and I can now see what he means.

For me, training with the guys that I'm technically competing against was not weird at all. The way I looked at things was to take it one fight at a time. I really looked at our team like we were a team and there to help each other. I think if I got caught up in worrying about other guys on my team, it would have been a tough state of mind to train and live in. So I figured until they matched me up against someone on my team I would treat them like we were working together and not against each other.

This week’s fight was between Riddle and Tim Credeur. I knew it was going to be a good fight. Credeur is the most experienced guy in the house and is in many people's eyes the favorite to win the show. Riddle is probably the only guy in the house with less fights than me. But I knew Riddle would be
a tough matchup for Tim, and really anyone, because he is a strong wrestler who punches with power. I think Riddle could have won that fight, but his wrestling instincts took over a lot, and that’s why he took Tim down so many times. For a lot of fights that would be a good idea, but with Tim being a black belt in jiu-jitsu, he brought him to where he's most comfortable, on the ground. Riddle shocked everyone, including Tim, with his impressive performance and he really made a great fight out of a matchup that seemed lopsided on paper. I think the more experience Riddle gets, the less he'll make mistakes like that and he’ll be able to enforce his gameplan the way he wants. The kid has raw talent and is definitely a pure athlete. I also have to give credit to Tim, who really battled in a fight where he was probably expecting an easier time. He probably could have finished the round out on top and won a decision but he went for a risky arm bar that could have cost him the position. That's confidence in your submissions. Both guys fought a great fight and if all the fights keep up at this pace, we're in for a great season.

Every single fight had an electrifying atmosphere. All the guys, especially on Team Rampage, were screaming at the top of their lungs in support for our teammate. We all trained with each other and helped one another get ready for each fight so it was like we were there in the cage with them.

We’re down 2-0 but I think we were still upbeat that we could turn things around. We had a lot of guys who were anxious to fight, including myself, and we really wanted to go out there and get a W. I think after seeing Riddle put up such a close fight against their ace, it helped us realize that everyone is human and everyone is beatable. We were all ready to be picked next. At this point, I wanted to be picked next and was ready to fight. Although it was discouraging to drop the first two fights, especially since I think we could've won both (especially Riddle’s fight), at the end of the day we were still TEAM RAMPAGE!!!
source:UFC® : Ultimate Fighting Championship®

I've met Dan at UConn, he's a good kid. He's got very tough competition, but I wish him the very best.