Ask Bristol Marunde about his time on The Ultimate Fighter 16, and he will recollect a number of things. He will remember defeating George Lockhart and Julian Lane. But he will also recall falling to Neil Magny, who eventually lost to runner-up Mike Ricci.

After the season, however, only Magny, Ricci and Jon Manley came back for fights, whereas the rest of the cast went on to take fights in other promotions. The inability to fight in the world’s premier MMA organization slightly detoured Marunde, who most knew for his lone appearance in Strikeforce against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza last March.

“Unfortunately, the UFC didn’t bring back a lot of the TUF 16 members for finale fights, which was really disappointing,”  Marunde told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “That kind of took the wind out of my sails.”

When Marunde signed on for season 16 of TUF, he knew that his purpose didn’t include topping the antics of past cast members such as Junie Browning and others, nor did it include the thrills of appearing on television.

“I didn’t want to go on that show and be a reality star, or be on TV,” Marunde admitted. “I went on there with the single purpose of getting in the UFC, so it was a big blow to me.”

Not knowing what to do when the UFC didn’t call him about a fight at the season finale, Marunde went back to the gym and focused on improving everywhere so that if a short-notice fight came along and either [of UFC matchmakers] Joe Silva or Sean Shelby called, Marunde would prove ready to go.

Bristol Marunde (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

“What else can I do, other than work on my ground game, and just become a better MMA fighter?”

Marunde’s fight with Souza is memorable for a number of reasons. At the forefront of the list stood the need for a short-notice opponent after Souza’s original adversary, Derek Brunson, suffered an injury that forced him out of the fight. After the loss to Souza, Marunde would appear on TUF 16, and while he did attempt to create some exciting bouts, he will admit that his willingness to stand and bang led to his downfall.

As he prepares to fight Clint Hester at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale on three days’ longer of notice than when he took on “Jacare,” he knows what type of fight he will want to give the fans. However, he also knows what he will need to do to beat the physical specimen that was the first fighter selected by Team Jones.

“I need to use the ground more effectively to win fights, because I have wrestling and I have submissions, and I need to do more to incorporate that into my game,” Marunde said.

Marunde, responding to a call from Silva after Hester’s original opponent could not compete, will aim to deliver fireworks, but he will look to remain technically sound in doing so. He will aim for an opportunity to set his moments up before he strikes, whether on the feet or on the ground. This will mark a return to middleweight for Marunde, and he will not need to cut a single pound to fight Hester.

However, where will Marunde end up after this fight? Will he remain at 185 or return to welterweight?

“I could stay at 185, but I would definitely have to put on some weight. I got down to welterweight, and I have the intention of staying there…but we’ll see how this feels,” Marunde explained. “I’d like to see how that extra weight feels, especially carrying it in the cage. If everything goes as planned, maybe I’ll stay at 185, because I think there are more opportunities in the UFC at 185 at the moment, just because it’s so many welterweights.”

“I’ll be able to answer that question better after the fight.”

Bristol would like to that his team and coaches at Syndicate MMA, as well as his sponsors and the people at Paradigm Sports Management

Photo: Bristol Marunde (BristolMarunde.com)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.