I almost didn’t even try out.
I didn’t want to be on the show. I was the RFA champ and I was coming off an impressive fight and I was told the UFC would be calling me within the week.
So I started training like I had a UFC fight. I was training balls to the wall ready to take a short-notice fight.
I waited and weeks went by and then months went by and nothing.
My manager and my coach told me TUF tryouts were happening, but I thought it was a bad idea.
It was a risky thing in my eyes because the UFC already wanted me and if I went to tryouts and went up a weight class and lost the fight to get into the house it would look bad. Not just that, but I thought the whole experience would suck. I am not a reality TV guy. I am low key and just sit around and hang out with my friends. I don’t like a lot of attention and I wondered what the show would make me look like. I didn’t even like hearing my interviews, so I couldn’t image having to watch myself on TV too.
But they talked me into it and when I get there — I’m not gonna lie — I was half-assing it. I half-assed the interviews and the tryouts, but I guess they saw I was a good fighter and put me through anyways.
Then I thought, shit. Now I have to do it.
When I finally got there I knew there was no backing out. I saw the guys who were there, and they were the top guys. I knew it was going to be tough. Basically every guy I hoped wouldn’t be there was. I knew I had to give it my all.
My goal was to just win the first fight and get into the house. And of course the one who I was most worried about I got paired with first. I knew I needed a lot of mental toughness going into that fight. He was the one everyone thought would be the hardest to beat.
But then I won.
After that I became the one everyone else needed to beat. I was the lion in the room and that took a lot of the stress away. I knew I was supposed to win.
And all the things I had worried about in regards to being on TV ended up being fine. I lucked out. I wasn’t picked on, didn’t have any issues back home, and they portrayed me correctly on the show.
And now that I am The Ultimate Fighter champion I realize what a blessing the show was. Not just the wins, but it was kind of like a boot camp, training us to be part of the UFC army. They taught us how to do interviews and the USADA. They even had accountants come in and talk to us. We were also taught how to have a social media presence.
Now I have a huge fan base, one I didn’t have before TUF. I was able to show my personality to a whole new fan base.
Obviously my career will be forever changed because I did well. I went in and I dominated every guy, and everyone saw that. I feel comfortable saying I was one of the most dominant fighters in the history of TUF.
And now I am in the UFC. Can’t get much better than that!