Anton Berzin, 24, fights out of Philly and will compete on season 19 of the The Ultimate Fighter. Each week throughout the season, he'll be sharing his experiences right here on philly.com.
When we got into the house, everything was very new - even the people. We weren’t quite sure how to act with each other, especially the other team. It was all so exciting.
During the first week, it finally starts to sink in. You say to yourself, “Wow. I can't believe I'm in the Ultimate Fighter house!”
The first training session in the UFC gym was unreal - all the best equipment, anything you’d want. Looking at the wall, covered in plaques and pictures of the previous contestants, you realize you’re one of only a handful of people to have ever trained there.
More impressive was meeting our incredible coaches.
Our head coach BJ Penn really needs no introduction. Seriously, if I need to explain to you who BJ is, please take out your phone, Google it and prepare to have your jaw dropped. He is unquestionably one of the all-time greats.
Mark Coleman, our wrestling coach, is one tough - and crazy - guy. Here's the type of man Mark is: While demonstrating a drop step take down, he aggravated his previously injured hip. He yelled and screamed in pain. Then he stopped, looked around, and did it three more times. Great!
My favorite, however, and one of the best trainers I've ever had the pleasure to work with, is Andre Pederneiras. He is an incredible coach - and more importantly a special person. He was showing me things I've never seen before. Andre and I had a connection from the beginning.
Now back to this week’s episode…
The first fight was between Cathal Pendred and Hector Urbina.
Hector is a very tough fighter. In the words of Ed Gordon, he’s “a true Mexican fighter.”
Cathal, my teammate, is much stronger than he looks. He’s a brutish, well-rounded grinder that’s as tough as they come. He has the heart of a lion.
The more the week went on, the more I got to know Cathal and the closer the whole team got. Already, we began to develop a bond with each other.
Then, on the day of the first weigh-ins, my tooth was bothering me so much that it was effecting my sleep. I thought I could just suck it up but that wasn’t the case.
Like everything else we were experiencing, the weigh-in was new to all of us, but Hector and Cathal did their thing. The face-off was one of the most intense stare downs I've ever seen - their flags up, Hector yelling things in Spanish while we chanted Ole! Ole! back at Team Edgar. It was crazy and all civilized thoughts flew out the window. All of the sudden, we were barbarians yelling for our teams with the rush of the moment fueling us, creating anger and happiness all at once.
Then came the fight. The first round, at least to me, seemed one-sided in our favor. However, after watching it on the screen, it definitely belonged to Hector. Hector almost stopped Cathal in the first round and eventually scored a dominant position. In the second, Cathal got the best of Hector, scoring punches, kicks and a few take downs. The third round was dominated by Cathal, landing some knees to the head and more takedowns. Ultimately, it was Cathal getting the win by decision, keeping the pick with Team Penn heading into the first light heavyweight fight.
We decided to send Dan Spohn against Todd Monaghan, the preacher.
Originally, however, our plan was for me to fight first so I'd have time to rest and heal. We planned on me fighting Edgar's first pick, Corey Anderson. I was very excited and pumped to fight him. However, on the day of the fight I couldn’t take the pain anymore and had to go to the dentist to get my tooth pulled. Turns out I had an infected tooth.
Even though we couldn't get the fight we wanted - and I wanted - Spohn vs. Monaghan was far from a bad backup plan.
Can't wait to see that one again when it airs next week.