After moving into The Ultimate Fighter house, the realization set in that I was so lucky to be living out a dream! I MADE IT! I felt like it was the first week of school, the excitement and adventure was through the roof. Everyone has their job in life, whether it’s in an office cubicle, construction site or classroom; I escaped the everyday rat race and now could train without distractions—or so I thought; there are a lot of distractions. All in all, I felt good to be in the house and it’d been a long time coming. I’m finally here.

We got right to work in the gym. There was no time to waste because the first fight was only four days away! Shane Carwin brought an all-star cast of trainers and I knew right away that this was going to be a real training camp. Loren Landow—our strength and conditioning coach—has a huge resume training Olympic athletes and NFL superstars. Leister Bowling is one of the most intense competitors I’ve ever met and his training is just as hardcore! Trevor Wittman is well known for teaching MMA fighters technical boxing. Pat ‘HD’ Barry is just as crazy as his fights are in the UFC—he let us leg kick him with no pads! Nate Marquardt is a world champion; sparring with him was scary because I knew he was going easy.

Teams in the house were very divided—black and yellow (Team Carwin) versus blue and grey (Team Nelson). Team Carwin stuck together as a ‘real’ team. We would organize big team dinners and everyone had their job. Mine was BBQ’ing because I can cook anything on the grill! The team dinners really brought us together and gave us a sense of family. We would make the best meals. French-Canadian Mike Ricci would prepare the best salads and New Yorker Matt Secor would bake bread. We would drink wine and sit at our dinner table for hours talking about home and our families.

Team Nelson was the enemy and tensions were on high alert! Team Nelson gained control of the first fight pick and they weren’t afraid to hang that over our heads. Michael Hill joked, “Bristol, you and me buddy, we’re gonna fight!” It wasn’t that funny, this is serious business and I’m ready for war! I don’t think those guys would talk to me like this in the outside world. It was really irritating the way those punks were walking around the house as if they did something special.

They acted all tough only because they knew who was fighting. This left Team Carwin on edge, as we had no idea who was going to be picked for the first fight! My roommate, Nic Webb, was really pissing me off, acting tough and walking around all cocky like he was some kind of world champion.

I hardly slept at all the first week. I found myself struggling with anxiety—all I could think about was fighting. I’d lie awake in bed going over techniques in my mind, extremely uncomfortable and away from home. I chose the top bunk-bed for some stupid reason, and come to find out it’s just a small mattress on top of a sheet of plywood…no sleep for me.

Despite no sleep, I quickly discovered how good our food situation was. We wrote down our food request and it was filled overnight and stocked in the fridge or pantry. I wanted to order everything, but I had to keep my weight less than 190 pounds as I might have to fight again in a couple days. The temptation was just too much at times as I walked by the pantry filled with all kinds of junk food and snacks. I cheated a few times and my craving for chocolate ice cream was almost too much to bear.

Fight Pick

We arrived at the gym knowing that one of us was going to get picked to fight. My stomach was in knots. I had no idea if Roy would choose me because he doesn’t like me or if they’d go after a weaker teammate. The unknown factor was very frustrating and I hate not having control of my fights. As we sat in the bleachers waiting for the big moment, I was practically holding my breath! Team Carwin bands together—it’s us versus them and we have each other’s backs!

Roy stands up and says that Cameron Diffley is their fighter to face one of us. Roy looks our team over and I’m ready to get it settled, whether it’s me or not, I want to know! Roy chooses Neil Magny since it’s his birthday. Phew! Big sigh of relief—finally I know! I was secretly relieved it wasn’t me because my weight was still an issue. I had my first cut to 170 pounds just a few days and I didn’t know if I was ready for another big weight cut this soon.

Fight Day

Being at the gym for the first fight made me nervous as if I was fighting! I looked at my teammates and they were all just as anxious as I was. Winning the fight was so important to everyone that we felt tremendous pressure. Team Carwin was already a unit and we wanted Neil to win and cheered him on as if we had known him for years. Neil won and it gave us the power back. Our team’s morale was high and we all shared in celebrating his victory.

My comments about Roy Nelson concerning his shabby appearance and negative demeanor didn’t originate from the TUF show. We both live in Las Vegas and have trained together frequently over the last several years. About two years ago, I tried to have Roy make a guest appearance at my MMA promotion in Seattle. I assumed he would be easy to work with, but after three weeks of trying to get him to sign a contract I just called it quits and decided not to do business with him. Several months before the TUF show, I was ‘helping’ Roy get ready for one of his fights and during a sparring session he threw a giant uppercut that smashed a big hole clean through my bottom lip that resulted in nine stitches. That’s like me injuring a 145-pound fighter; I’d feel like an asshole if I did that. Roy’s a negative person and he feeds off of chaos; I’m the opposite and I don’t want any part of either… enough said.

Check out Bristol’s video blog as well:

Photo: Bristol Marunde (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

About The Author

Bristol Marunde
TUF Blogger

Bristol Marunde is an American mixed martial artist who is competing on The Ultimate Fighter season 16. He was formerly signed with Strikeforce and is the current Superior Cage Combat (SCC) middleweight champion. Bristol holds notable wins over Jay Silva, Victor Moreno, Chuck Grigsby, Shane Primm and Rich Attonito. He currently resides in Las Vegas where he trains at Throwdown Training Center. Bristol also owns Reign Promotions in Washington state. Each week during the reality show, the Team Carwin member will blog about his experience, leading up to the finale on Saturday, Dec. 15, where the show's winner will be crowned.