Well, first things first. To recap last week’s episode, you see me at the board pointing out the awkwardness that might be fighting your own teammate. And when I say awkwardness, I mean it is only awkward if you make it awkward, but it really got into the head of some of the other people on the team. Whoops. I mean, in my defense, it was really just pointing out the obvious and, of course, they have to show my goofy ass as the one who said it. Damn. Thanks, guys.
Anyhoo, back to this week’s episode! So far Roxy Modafferi has moved on, I have moved on, and now Montana Stewart moves on after taking out Ariel Beck. Not going to lie, watching that episode last week gave me some of the feels. Ariel is such a great person and to see her hurt from being out of the competition really, really sucked.
One thing you didn’t get to see was, after the fight I was in the bathroom (actually in the stall) and Ariel was in there using the mirror. Roxanne came in and gave her a huge hug and was saying some really comforting things. My body apparently hates emotions and let out a marathon toot (we’ll call it that to sugarcoat that I let out an over 30-second fart). It went on so long they actually both stopped and asked me if I was making the sound with my mouth or what. Moral of this story: my flatulence ruins sentimental moments. But hey, it actually helped lighten the mood and Ariel got a good laugh out of it.
You can go ahead and put that story in the TMI category, or NMI (need more information) column if you are my kind of people. I am actually not sure what my point is with telling that story, but we’ll just say it is because humor, usually of the awkward, inappropriate or gross variety, helps in coping with tough times. And like I said, she got a laugh out of it, even if it was just because she was horrified and/or concerned for my well-being.
Now to this week’s fight between Team Alvarez’s Lauren Murphy and Team Gaethje’s Nicco Montano. The episode started with Lauren talking to Barb Honchak about the match-ups on their side of the bracket. When I was on TUF Talk one of the things they asked me was about what did I think about Lauren wanting to work on things specifically for Barb. Honestly, even though we were all friends, it boils down to the fact that this is a competition and she was thinking in the long run. There is nothing wrong about making plans and doing everything you can to make it to the top. The issue comes with not focusing on what is right in front of you first. She got too ahead of the game for a minute and then, when she calmed down and thought about it, she focused on the task at hand, which was her fight with Nicco.
Lauren was the only fighter in the competition that was already in the UFC, where she fought in the bantamweight division. She fought some tough people in the division, and she is a tough competitor in general. Lauren is a strong person and like Eddie Alvarez says in the episode, she has a lot of dimensions to her game.
Nicco was someone I didn’t have too much interaction with on the show, because she was on the other team. But there was something about her that made her stand out. The times I did talk to her, I found her interesting — and I say that in a genuine and good way. She had an energy to her that really stuck out and was unique. You could tell she was there for the competition and was focused.
One of my favorite parts of the show was getting to know everyone’s backstory, hearing about their lives and what drives them and why they were there. I actually knew a little bit about Lauren’s story, specifically her history with drugs and alcohol, before the show. My good friend and teammate Court McGee is also a reformed drug addict and had actually talked to me once about her. Hearing her story and how far she had come to be the athlete she is was inspiring. She went from being kicked out of nursing school because of drugs and alcohol to now competing in a tournament to win a UFC belt! That is a dramatic turn around and is amazing.
Also, her story about her father really resonated with me, which is why you see her show me the picture of her and her father. She knew about me losing my father, who was my hero. Her father was her hero too, and he was taken much too soon in her life. Our losses were something that bonded us and, like I said in the episode, I wholeheartedly believe he was there watching and looking over her through this.
Fight time! Fight day for Lauren was also her birthday and her wedding anniversary, and she was ready for a battle. This fight was the first back-and-forth war we’ve seen on the show. The first three fights were first-round finishes! Both of them went out looking for the win, but in the end, Nicco was able to grind out the victory and stopped Lauren’s game plan. It was not the way us on Team Alvarez has imagined it going down, but such is the fight game.
Fight four was now in the books and the scoreboard stood at Team Gaethje 3, Team Alvarez 1. The locker room was emotional, not going to lie. It was a rough day for all of us and obviously for Lauren herself.
Gaethje had the next pick, and with it he chose No. 5 seed Maia Stevenson against No. 12 seed Sarj [Sijara Eubanks]! Stay tuned to next week, because it’s going to be a good one!