While living inside our TUF prison during the third week, I was feeling energized and ready to train—because that’s all there is to do—train, eat, try to sleep and repeat. I began growing accustomed to the routine of the house and gym. Team Carwin was becoming a unit and a damn good one too. The jokes were running rampant and the foul humor was only escalating to new heights. I remember apologizing to my mother on camera just in case some of the ‘casual’ conversation was aired on TV (but I knew it wouldn’t make it past the FCC).

The anxiety of waiting to fight was actually getting worse, because over the past 15-20 fights I’ve been in, I’ve always talked openly about being nervous or anxious for the upcoming battle. In the past I would spend the day on a nature hike, or find some other positive distraction to relieve the pressure. In the house I had little escape—other than talking with my teammates. Ultimately I did not want to confide in guys I might possibly fight. I put on a ‘tough face’ and made it seem as though I was having fun and could “stay here forever”, as I told Igor Araujo once. That wasn’t entirely true; I missed relaxing in my own home and sleeping in my own bed. But, a part of me was enjoying the escape from reality. I no longer missed my cell phone, or the letters from the IRS, or the perpetual stress of the tiresome rat race so many Americans—including myself—slave away in every day.

In the house, despite the constant anxiety and pressure of a fight looming and the shenanigans, I had a sense of living simple without any actual responsibility. This was especially refreshing for me because the last five months prior to the house I had become so immersed in my promotion, Reign Fighting Championships, that it had put a strain on my relationships, especially with my girlfriend Aubrey.

I had left no time for the necessary rest and relaxation; I was too busy chasing the ‘American Dream’. The house had become my own refuge as a detox from stress during the last five months of working four MMA promotions and three fights. The time spent in personal reflection was good for me; I wasn’t quite home-sick yet, with the constant threat of fighting kept my thoughts occupied.

Team Carwin’s morale was high because we had control of the next fight pick. It was our turn to keep control and smash Team Nelson. Their team needed a good lesson and our No. 1 pick Sam Alvey was going to administer that lesson! Sam was the team’s choice to fight because he had quite a few pounds to cut having only fought at welterweight once to get on the ‘show’. Sam and the coaches chose Joey Rivera to be the victim; I agreed with the match-up. Sam’s giant reach and knockout power would finish the fight early.

As many of you already know the outcome, Sam’s performance was far from expected. I was shown on the episode saying “Sam would destroy Joey and Team Carwin would maintain control”; I ate my words. Joey ended up forcing the action and won a unanimous decision. I did not see that coming, nor did any of Team Carwin including the coaches.

Sam has a great record of 19-4 and seemed so relaxed during his pre-fight warm-up that he had me wondering if he knew something I didn’t. I had kept a close watch on Sam as a potential opponent, even though we were on the same team. I viewed these men as obstacles standing in the way of my Ultimate Fighter plaque. After witnessing Sam’s loss I asked the question: was it Joey’s performance that won the fight, or was it Sam not ‘showing’ up for work that day?

I have to admit after going through this process, I take back all the negative comments I once shouted at my TV towards the Ultimate Fighter competitors on previous TUF seasons. Sam’s performance was a result of what most people, myself included don’t experience fighting outside of the house in normal conditions. The adverse conditions inside the house can kill a fighter’s performance; this is something I could never understand until I experienced it personally.

Although Sam said that his bed being thrown in the pool didn’t bother him, it only added to the long list of factors no fighter outside of the house has ever dealt with. Sam had to diet continuously and suck down his weight to make 170 pounds. His usual corner and fiancé were not there to provide the necessary support. Sam slept on the couch the night of his fight to avoid sleeping on a water soaked mattress that Team Nelson sent floating in the pool.

All of the adverse conditions drained Sam’s energy and prevented him from executing what seemed like a guaranteed victory. Joey fought well, but in normal conditions outside the house, would I still bet on Sam? Yes, of course. This ‘Twilight Zone’ we were living in claimed another victim.

How many more fighters would stumble under the weight of the tremendous pressure? Not me, I told myself. I will be ready, I will fight to the end, and I will throw bombs! I told myself over and over that I will not fall victim to the house. In my next fight I will be extremely aggressive, and I will be like a gorilla, savage and invincible!

I learned after watching Sam’s fight; a boring fight is worse than a loss on The Ultimate Fighter.

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.