In the beginning of episode 12, it was good to see some of what had been going on for weeks, and that was Team Nelson complaining about the training they had been getting.
Roy had his philosophies and listening to him in this episode it was clear that he wanted to see these guys come in and push themselves on their own. He didn’t think they needed to have a coach telling them what to do at every practice.
Maybe he is right, there is a lot to be said for a guy that is self motivated. Colton didn’t let it get to him and it seemed to work for him. His workouts for the semifinals consisted of drilling and hitting the bags on his own and he still pulled it off. However, I think every other guy on their team wanted more structured training. As a matter of fact, six of the eight guys from Team Nelson specifically told us that they wish they were on Team Carwin.
At about week four, we had three of the guys from Team Nelson basically join Team Carwin. Nic Webb and Dom Waters were the first two to start training with us, and Jon Manley was the third. Jon Manly was training with us and even had two guys from Team Carwin corner him for his semifinal fight.
I was surprised that they never showed any of this because to me it was the real drama of the season. You had a team of guys who Joey Rivera referred to as the “Bad News Bears,” (which was ironic because in an interview that I did that wasn’t shown I called them the same thing!), and a team of guys who loved their training, and every time they bring it up they praise our structure.
It was awesome to hear the guys from Team Carwin compliment us as coaches, and I am glad we were able to give them even more than they expected out of this experience. I feel for the guys on Team Nelson that didn’t feel the same way.
Like I’ve said all along, Team Nelson brought in great assistant coaches who have proven to be successful and have trained some of the best fighters in the world. I am not sure if the styles didn’t click, the structure wasn’t there, or the guys just didn’t buy into what Team Nelson was doing.
I will say that it was probably a lot easier for Team Carwin’s coaching staff to be focused only on training the guys on TUF, as we were all far away from home, jobs, other fighters we train, etc. and the Nelson coaches were in their hometown and still had other obligations to their gyms, fighters, and families. We basically up and moved our whole team to Vegas for six and a half weeks and wanted to give these guys the best training we could. We had nothing else to do while we were there. We had no other distractions. We wanted to be at practice every day because if not, we were crammed into some condos doing nothing, or losing money gambling!
Over six weeks, we developed a TEAM. I know this is not a team sport, but our goal was to have two Team Carwin guys in the Finale together. Obviously, Roy felt the same way. It only made sense to both sides to let us find out! I wish for both teams that we would have been afforded that opportunity.
Colton Smith vs. Jon Manley was a great fight and both of them are awesome fighters. This was the first time we saw Colton get tired and he fought through it like the warrior he is. Jon is the terminator. I think in time Jon will develop into a force and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him
Even though Dana said that he thought Neil and Colton were the best two in the house, you can’t ever count Mike Ricci out. He is a 155 pounder, which I think actually benefited him in this experience because he didn’t have to cut weight every week. He is a southpaw and that presents a lot of problems for some guys. He is very technical, and he trains with two of the best welterweights in the world on a daily basis.
Neil Magny is like the energizer bunny that keeps going and going. He gets better in the later rounds. He is very fast, very durable, a good wrestler, and very coachable. Having the two of these guys fight each other in the semifinals was horrible. They handled it well and knew that only one of them could win the show so they put friendship aside and threw down.
The end of this episode told the whole story of this show to me. Mike Ricci cried because he knocked his TEAMMATE out. These guys trained together for six and a half weeks. They ate every meal together as a team. They prayed together. It would have been a lot easier for them to fight each other after going home for 10 weeks and getting to train with their own teams and forget about all of the time they spent together.
When Ricci cried, I pulled him aside and told him not to let the outcome of his fight ruin the moment for him. He won four fights in seven weeks. He had two spectacular knockouts. He was on his way to becoming the first ever Canadian TUF Champion and he should be proud.
I was proud to see that we accomplished our goal as coaches to turn these guys into a team. Even in individual sports you need a team behind you to be successful. Without a team, you don’t have coaches and you don’t have training partners that you can count on. Without a team, you have to worry about your training partners trying to hurt you in practice because you have a room full of selfish egos. Our team supported each other from the beginning to the end and it was awesome to be a part of it.
I want to say first of all, thanks to Shane Carwin for asking me to be one of his coaches. Coaching alongside guys like Trevor Wittman, Loren Landow, Eliot Marshall, Nate Marquardt, and Pat Barry was an honor and I learned a lot as a coach. I also want to extend a thank you to everyone on Team Carwin for making this experience unforgettable. Every one of the eight (11 by the end) fighters on our team was a pleasure to work with and I hope that our paths cross in the future.
To everyone that has been reading this, thanks and I hope you enjoyed it!
Leister Bowling: Wrestling/MMA Coach at Grudge Training Center and Easton BJJ. You can follow Leister on Twitter @LeisterBowling or Email [email protected] for training tips/seminar information.
(Photo courtesy of Leister Bowling)