In episode six of The Ultimate Fighter, we were graced with the best fight of the season thus far, as Team Rousey’s Jessamyn Duke battled it out with Team Tate’s Raquel “Rocky” Pennington. In the end of a hard fought, rarely seen, three-round war, Pennington brought the “W” back to Team Tate. This was much to the dismay of Team Rousey, whose head coach, UFC champ Ronda Rousey, has come under scrutiny by the public, again, for her emotional post-fight reaction.
Viewers were also given a glimpse into the difficulty of being feminine for some of the females in the house. This is another first for the series, as we’ve never witnessed the fighters “dolling” it up in heels and makeup before. Anthony Gutierrez also seems to capitalize on the females being in the house, as they have become a target of his nagging.
MMAWeekly.com’s TUF consultant, Team Tate Assistant Coach Ricky Lundell uses our weekly interview to not only talk to us about the aforementioned events, but also about some of the other goings on in the Ultimate Fighting Championship right now.
MMAWeekly.com: Coach, let’s start by talking about what’s been going on in the house. Ms. Pena is certainly having fun with the other female fighters, isn’t she?
Ricky Lundell: Ha, I would say that she is finding ways to entertain herself, yes. I thought it was great to see the willingness of the other girls to play along and step outside of themselves too. You could definitely see that they were not comfortable wearing stilettos and makeup; I think that they would rather be barefoot throwing punches. I don’t think she convinced them to turn to the girly life after this, but I laughed, it was fun to watch.
MMAWeekly.com: What about watching Gutierrez tormenting the females of your team? How does that feel watching it as a coach? What does it do for the team dynamic?
Ricky Lundell: It’s certainly shows that Anthony (Gutierrez) is exploiting the reality aspect of the show. I think that part of it is him trying to get more camera time. I mean, if you act out that way, the cameras follow you. I think the reason he did it to the females and not the guys was because the guys wouldn’t have reacted in quite the same way.
As a coach, it is really disheartening to watch a teammate do that to someone the night before someone’s fight. I mean, we all know how important mental awareness is in a fight. The situation is already tough on TUF, and to have a fellow teammate toying with your sleep is not what you need, you know. The girls handled it a lot better than they could have. When they came to the coaching staff about it the next day, they were really mad. They didn’t show that to him. I was proud of them for that. I don’t think the reaction would’ve been the same had it been done on past seasons or with the guys. I think that’s a gender thing.
I do think it plays a part on the team dynamic because it adds a stress to the team. I think that the team becomes frustrated, not just with the guy doing it, but because they are now mentally not where they should be in their home. That’s something that we, as the coaches, have to deal with.
MMAWeekly.com: Do you think that it hurt Rocky in her fight? This was Team Rousey’s official fight pick, but you guys wanted this match-up also, right? Was she ready?
Ricky Lundell: We (Team Tate) thought that Rocky was definitely ready for this fight. Yes, this was the match-up that we wanted for Raquel. We didn’t think that Jessamyn Duke would hold out as well as she did against her. I think that despite the lack of sleep, Rocky was ready, and she proved that with the win. It just wasn’t as easy as anyone had predicted it would be. Duke is tougher than she looks!
MMAWeekly.com: How much preparation went into working with Pennington and what was the plan?
Ricky Lundell: Well, no one thought that this would end up on the ground. We were right about that. We worked with her on the clinch defense, and trying not to get caught in that game. We wanted her to use her power and not let Duke use her length too much. It was important for Rocky to be able to close the distance.
Raquel Pennington is one of the strongest females I have ever met. She really surprised me with her power from the beginning. I have to say the fact that Duke was able to withstand that for three rounds is a true testament to her heart.
MMAWeekly.com: So, talk about the fight a bit.
Ricky Lundell: We won. Ha. It was a war. Fights like this are what will make WMMA continue to make history, and this one was on a TV show. I truly think this was the equivalent to Griffin-Bonnar.
When the first round was about a minute and a half into it, and Duke was still up and taking strong, I knew that we were in for a war. They were going all out. The first round was really close, we knew that. We knew that she needed to have a really strong second in order to take the fight. The second round, however, another all-heart battle. Jessamyn was able to connect with that length, and Rocky got caught up with that a couple times throughout the fight. I think that the strikes that Rocky was throwing had such force behind them that by the end of the second, it was wearing Jessamyn down, but it was so very close. I am definitely glad that it went into a third. I think it really helped that Rocky didn’t really take any visible damage until the very end, but I wish it would have gone five rounds. That was an amazing fight to coach. I watched two females give everything they had and not stop. That’s why we coach, and that’s why TUF exists. Those are fighters.
MMAWeekly.com: What about the sportsmanship at the end, from the other team?
Ricky Lundell: Yeah, I mean, Ronda shook my hand. I know that what she did with Miesha was emotion-filled. It wasn’t exactly the best thing to do, but it wasn’t directed at me. She wasn’t unpleasant toward me. I wish that things were handled differently. People don’t understand how it feels to have all that emotion as a coach, because you cannot do anything. You feel everything, as though you’re fighting, but have no control. It’s really hard sometimes.
MMAWeekly.com: As a black belt in BJJ, getting your third-degree in March, I’d like to know your opinion of the Rousimar Palhares controversy surrounding his submission of Mike Pierce.
Ricky Lundell: Well, I think that he is a professional. I think that as a professional, you know the limits, and you know when to stop. As someone who has competed and won world submission grappling titles, and competed with the best in the world, I can say that I know when I feel my opponents extremities hit that point. I also know that when competing, one has to be in tune with the surroundings of my match: my opponent and my referee. When it’s over, it’s over. I mean, this is not Palhares’ first encounter with this issue. I think, personally, he may hold a moment longer as an intimidation factor for the next opponent that may be watching. It’s fine, until it isn’t.
As a professional, my personal opinion is that you have to maintain a level of class and a standard of behavior. If you go back to the fight with Henderson and Pettis, that was a verbal submission, I believe. It happened so fast that no one even realized the submission took place. Did the ref even call it? I am not sure, but he let go because he knew he had the submission and there was no need to continue. Class. Burkman and Fitch was a 40-second submission that the referee definitely didn’t stop. There is no need to put someone into a hospital or potentially ruin someone’s career to prove that you are tough.
As a professional, to go beyond the point of necessity, especially when your opponent taps out, you’ve been told to stop, etc., is uncalled for and classless. I want to clarify that I am basing my opinion on what we have been told, and what I saw on television. I wasn’t there. If facts are different, then by all means, maybe things are different, but that is my opinion of someone going beyond to seemingly hurt a fellow professional athlete for what seems like future intimidation… it’s classless and they deserve what they get.
MMAWeekly.com: Do you have any predictions for the big UFC 166 this weekend?
Ricky Lundell: I’ll say Velasquez, Cormier, Melendez (will win). Those are the only predictions I will make.
MMAWeekly.com: Do you have any other comments for the readers?
Ricky Lundell: Well, I would like to make a little announcement. I hope that while you all are watching UFC 166, you are getting excited about UFC on Fox 9 – December 14 in Sacramento, California. I’ll be cornering this guy named Carlos Condit when he fights Matt Brown that night, so that’s been added to my schedule. I’m excited about that.
Also, if you think TUF has been good so far, get ready. Things are definitely heating up this week. I can’t wait to talk to you all about what happens on this week’s episode! Just from watching the previews, I am starting to remember that week in filming. I can’t wait to see what makes it on the show.
I’ll talk with you again in a few days! Thank you for all the time!
Ricky Lundell, Assistant Coach for Team Tate, will be checking in with MMAWeekly.com readers each week as the season progresses. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and Instagram and let him know your thoughts.
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