| | Joe Scarola Interview
Conversation with TUF6's Joe Scarola - 9/21/2007
by Ron Merrill
This season's cast of The Ultimate Fighter 6 reality show had barely dropped their gear when it as time to get down to business. Sixteen of the welterweight division's most promising up-and-comers were gathered in Las Vegas to prove with emphasis that they indeed had what it took to be the next Ultimate Fighter. East Meadow, NY native Joe Scarola (6-0-0 in MMA) was among
"The first day I got there they brought us right to the gym and that was it. The first day we got there. We had to try out for two hours. Training, sparring -do everything like that. Then after that we kind of took a little break and went back the same day after that and did the team picks. The next day was fight picks. The day after that was the weigh-in and that Sunday was the first fight when I fought."
A small comfort perhaps was the presence of Scarola's real-life coach, Matt Serra and training partner, Pete 'Drago' Sell. No stranger to the reality show experience himself, TUF 4 winner and current welterweight champion Matt 'The Terror' Serra would have plenty of advice for his protege in advance of his arrival to Las Vegas.
"He was just trying to tell me how it was going to be with the cameras and just everything. Everything he went through he kind of coached me through it and toldme how it was going to be basically."
One thing Serra may not have prepared him for was the gamesmanship of former welterweight champion and opposing TUF 6 coach, Matt Hughes. Scarola found himself the subject of Hughes' feigned interest during the recruit evaluation period, a move that would later reveal itself to be a masterful ploy.
"There was a little concern [about being picked by Hughes] but there wasn't a huge concern. Like you saw on the show, Hughes was like, 'what if I picked you, what are you going to do?' But I wasn't too worried about it. It worked out and it worked out the right way. [Fighting against Serra] would have been a tough one. The fight's tough enough, but having to do that would have been real tough."
For better or for worse Joe Scarola was Matt Serra's first pick. And though free from the potential
conflict of interest that facing his own coach would have created he found himself in the inauspicious position of being targeted once again, this time for early elimination as Hughes matched him against the formidable Mac Danzig.
"It was a lot of pressure, man! I was picked first and it felt good, but being picked to fight first is even more pressure. You're trying to acclimate to living in the house and you don't really get to train or anything like that. You get picked, weigh in and thenit's time to fight."
With less than four days between his arrival and fight in which to train and acclimate, Scarola reflected on his reason for being there in the first place.
"One of my big goals was to get into the UFC and this was a great way to expose myself and do it," he said. "I wanted to go in there and fight a big name and just test myself in that way. But all the drama and stuff like that with reality TV I wasn't looking forward to.But I was ready to deal with it."
During his pre-fight preparation Scarola seemed at times vacuous and distant, and admits that he beat himself mentally long before Mac Danzig's triangle choke would finish the job physically.
"I saw the fight for the first time last night during the first episode. I didn't watch it before hand, and
just...even in the house it wasn't me. Like just being myself, I looked so out of sorts and I got picked to fight and it just wasn't me. Before the fight and during the fight. Not to take anything away from Mac.Mac's tough as hell. He's a real good fighter, butthat just wasn't me fighting in there."
Despite his coach's comments to the contrary, Scarola is adamant that he was not seeking an early exit. "I definitely wasn't looking for a way out of the fight. I wasn't in the fight to begin with. I was just kind of going through the motions. That's what it looked like to me when I saw it. Even when he put the triangle on, it wasn't like 'alright, good.' No, I wasn't even thinking straight. I just froze up and my nerves got to me. I was out of it even when the fight started."
"To me it would have been better if it wasn't a fight on the Ultimate Fighter, if it was just a fight in
general. Just in the UFC or something like that. I just think that with the house and the stress of being on a reality show it definitely got to me."
One man's loss is another man's learning experience,and Joe Scarola remains humble yet optimistic about his future.
"With fighting I know that it's just as important to be mentally prepared for a fight as it is physically.
You can't listen to any negative comments from anybody about anything. Surround yourself with positive people and stay positive. That's what I learned."
"I thank my fans for watching and supporting me. Definitely keep looking for me because I'm gonna be back and show everybody what I know, and what everybody else knows I can really do."
Seems like he has a good head on his shoulders. Hopefully he can improve his mental strength and show what he can do come fight time.