So, um, yeah. Sometimes it may seem like I’m stir crazy, but no, it’s not stir crazy. It’s just actual crazy. Haha.

After Roxy [Modafferi] and Shana [Dobson]’s fight, we were sitting around, Team Gaethje inside the house and Team Alvarez outside. Everyone is relaxing and just hanging out, and I apparently get a surge of energy. It might have been excitement that I was the next fight, or just me coming out of my shell (hint: it was both), but hey, when you’re cutting weight, any surge of energy is great.

My friend Brittany at home usually is my voice of reason in these situations. She always tells me, “Damn it, DeAnna, stop humping things,” or, my favorite, “Ah, stop chasing me around the grocery store with the family-size summer sausage!” But hey, she’s not here in the house, so boom! Free range to do what I want! Needless to say, I danced out my feelings (since I couldn’t eat them) and what you couldn’t see, I also sang to the lot of them.

Is that not how you make friends? Do you not straddle them on a couch and gyrate awkwardly? Well, I do apparently, and it works.

I was nervous that the ladies in the house would not get my weirdness, but they did! Or at least they tolerated it! And that night, when Barb [Honchak] poured water on me Flashdance-style and climbed the tree making those monkey sounds, I claimed her as a friend and as one of my favorite humans.

Now to the serious stuff!

Can I just say, being able to work with Eddie Alvarez, and every other one of the coaches he had with him as well, was amazing. Leading up to the fight, we did some one-on-one training and I felt better than I ever have. Stepping up into The Ultimate Fighter cage and feeling the lights beat down on you is truly a surreal experience.

My strength is wrestling and ground control — mostly because I am a fat kid and I just wanna take people down and sit on them for the win! — so I worked a lot of setups with the coaches for that. Sometimes I can be like a bull in a china shop, but, hey, if we can channel that to the right use, that’s good, right?

I just need to say it again, though: Eddie was such a great coach. I am truly grateful that I was on his team and got to work with him and his coaches. Every day that passed in the house, I grew more and more grateful — which means a lot, because one day in the TUF house equals month in normal time, haha.

I also want to say, though, Karine [Gevorgyan] was great, and I can’t imagine how tough it was to not really speak the language being in this competition. She’s tough, though, really tough, and thankfully Roxy is amazing and took it upon herself to help Karine out. I had several interactions with Karine around the house, but nothing crazy because of the language barrier, but I could tell she was a good and kind person.

It’s weird to see how Emily [Whitmire] was hurt so early in the competition. Being on the opposing team, we were completely unaware that she had an injury at this point, obviously for good reason. That was tough to watch, though. Emily was great and to see her in so much pain, it was terrible to see.

So, the weight cut went great. In fact, I did a little weight-cutting in the hot tub the morning of weigh-ins and it was great. I rigged the pool noodle with an innertube and I floated around in there. The sun was beating down on me and I felt relaxed and happy. I actually had my eyes shut, relaxing, and I was singing show tunes to myself, haha. In particular, “What I Did for Love” from “A Chorus Line.” Seemed fitting to me. My favorite rendition of that is on Josh Groban’s show tunes album, but that’s just because I have a huge fangirl crush on him. Super talented, adorable and pretty dang nerdy? Sign me up for that, haha.

Weigh-in went great, 126 pounds on the dot, and I did my rehydration. Usually at this point my friends and corners have to help me take my mind off of the fight for a minute, because I tend to get super nervous and freak out. Yeah, I’m a headcase. Is that even a surprise at this point? Haha. But it was different this time. I relaxed at the house, did my thing, and I actually liked the opportunity to think about the fight and what was at stake.

The biggest thing going through my head was how I wanted this more than I had ever wanted anything. I wanted this for me, and I wanted this for everyone who’s ever supported me, and I wanted this for my father. Man, I miss him. Not a day goes by that there isn’t something I want to talk to him about and share with him.

Fight day! I feel fabulous. I got a good night’s sleep and I’m ready to do work. In the morning, I went to the team practice just to get my nerve out and move around, and it made me even more excited to be in there. I thought I’d feel nervous, or even a bit scared — usually I do before fights — but I felt so good. Moving around in the cage and feeling it out, I knew that this was the place I was meant to be in. I felt at home and happy.

Getting my hands wrapped and then the warm up, man, I felt like I was in a dream. We move around and I feel great. I can’t say it enough: Eddie is a great coach.

It’s just about time to walk out and the door opens and, oh hey, it’s Dana Mother-Effing White! Oh, hey, I see you, Dana, I see you, haha. No pressure now. I get a fist bump, which is good because if left to me there would be awkward hugs and face-petting (it’s a thing, don’t ask). That was the final moment. Now I know I’m going to go out there and get that W.

Staring across the cage at Karine, I had never been more comfortable in the cage. I feel the coarse mat under my feet, Dana White is watching right behind me, and I am ready to go. I am ready physically, mentally and emotionally, and I had Eddie Freaking Alvarez coaching me in my corner. I knew that things were going to go my way.

The fight went just how I wanted it to. I mean, there’s always room for improvement — and I did and am still working on that — but I felt great out there. I felt her out a little bit and tried to get her to engage, and she did land some good punches, but I had my game plan I was going to execute. I did my thing and listened for Eddie’s cornering and, hey, victory, victory! Did I say yet that I was grateful to have him in my corner? Haha. He was excellent. I listened for what he had to say and followed it and came out with that first-round TKO. Fabulous!

Man, I felt on top of the world. It was great to bring the positive energy after the fight to Team Alvarez. I absolutely loved the fighters and all the coaches on the team, and on top of getting the win for me, I wanted to get it for them, too. I got that win for me, for my father, and for Team Alvarez.

And because I was excited, I did what any normal person would do and became the Oprah of locker-room lap dances: You get a lap dance. You get a lap dance. Everyone gets a lap dance! Totally a normal thing to do.

The next match-up was set. With their pick, Team Gaethje chose No. 6 Montana [Stewart] against No. 11 Ariel [Beck]. I got excited, because Ariel is my buddy and she’s tough as nails. Stay tuned for next week when another member of the Rosé room goes to war!

About The Author

DeAnna Bennett
TUF 26 Blogger

DeAnna Bennett is a mixed martial artist competing on the 26th season of The Ultimate Fighter. The show will crown the UFC’s inaugural flyweight champion. DeAnna is a former Invicta FC title challenger who trains out Four7 Training Center in Provo, Utah.

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