TUF 18: Jessamyn Duke Fighter Blog, Episode 7

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistOctober 16, 2013


Note: All quotes and material were obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report through a one-on-one between Jessamyn Duke and Bleacher Report's Riley Kontek.

Living in the TUF house and dealing with the aftermath of a fight is a completely different situation than I've ever had to deal with before. Normally after a loss you are surrounded by your friends, family and the people closest to you, and they help you cope with the loss. Basically, they help pick you back up.

But at TUF, you don't have those people. You can't even talk to them on the phone. They are nothing but a memory at that point in time. After that loss, I was never more grateful for the team/family bond that those of us on Team Rousey had built. Those people were there for me during the hardest loss of my career and I'm forever thankful for the support they gave me. 

I got back to the house and took a shower immediately before finally got a good look at my battle wounds. My eyes were already black and swollen, my nose was pretty smashed (I thought it was broken, but as it turned out, it wasn't), and my heart had pretty well been stomped on. Since she had to get stitched up, Raquel didn't get back to the house till a little bit later.

When she did get back, she came straight into my room, and we gave each other a hug and she thanked me for the fight. I said, "You really brought out the best in me," and she said that I did the same. I've never been able to talk with an opponent like that after a fight. It was a pretty crazy experience. Having my opponent's respect after a fight definitely helped to soften the blow.

We spent the rest of the night feasting on ice cream, s'mores, every other treat we had denied ourselves over the last few weeks and just reliving the fight and appreciating what we just went through. 

On Father's Day, Ronda Rousey and (assistant coach) Marina Shafir came over to the house and brought some gifts to all the daddies in the house, even the ones that weren't on her team. I thought that this was an extremely thoughtful gesture and a testament to Ronda's character.

Cody Bollinger had even been asking his coaches if they could maybe get him something for Father's Day and they had told him no. So he was extremely appreciative when Ronda brought him a gift as well. It was a very emotional time for all the dads in the house and you could really tell that it was weighing heavily on their minds. 

Back in the gym, Team Tate had apparently come up with another not-so-clever "prank" targeting Edmond (Tarverdyan, another assistant) and Ronda that involved posting pictures all over the gym. At this point, it had been more than a week since Dana (White, the UFC president) asked both teams to knock it off and focus on the athletes, and this was the second time Team Tate tried to instigate.

Fortunately, Dana caught wind of it this time and came down to the gym to do damage control. We had showed up for practice, but we weren't allowed in the gym and we had NO IDEA why. They just didn't let us in on time like normal and Team Tate was already long gone. So we really had no idea what had happened. Dana did his best to try clean it all up, but he had missed one picture in the sauna and we finally figured out what had went down. 

Honestly, on our end, we don't really know what happened past that. I know that Dana was sick of the "pranks" and that our coaches didn't appreciate being poked at and not being allowed to respond. It caused a lot of tension, which is I guess what Team Tate's goal was. I was just sick of all the childish stuff, honestly.

It seemed like a shallow attempt at being a "mean girl" on Miesha's part and in my opinion was pretty immature. But in the end, nothing came of it. Dana dropped the hammer again and it was all back to business as usual.

Wootten vs. Josh...I was 100 percent confident in Wootten for this fight. I didn't think it would be easy for him, but I knew he had the tools to win. The first round, Josh came out and did exactly what we expected him to do and he very nearly submitted Wootten for it. But Wootten kept his composure, worked out of some tough spots and by the end of the round had begun to find his range with Josh.

Second round, Wootten came out and threw a jab/right knee, which was the exact combo Edmond had told him to start the round with. You can even hear him screaming "Go, now, now!" when the round starts, and it landed cleanly and dropped Josh. I thought the fight might be over at this point but Josh showed a lot of resilience and survived the round. Now they were one and one.

Third round, Josh came out and threw a spinning back fist that resulted in him being taken down. Wootten finished the round on top raining down some serious ground-and-pound and I didn't have a doubt in my mind that he had won the fight. It wasn't easy, but he definitely proved he had the tools to beat Josh.

I was excited to see the next two matchups. Peggy vs. Sarah was gonna be interesting.

Peggy is the biggest 135-pound female fighter out there and poses some serious problems for any opponent based just on that. However, Peggy also had the most time to maintain weight and she was definitely working harder than anyone else to make sure that she made weight. Sarah's game plan is no secret to anyone. She likes to take people down, ground-and-pound them and then submit them. So, winning the fight depended on Peggy's ability to defend that. 

Cody and Anthony make for a crazy exciting matchup. Anthony is scrappy, tenacious and doesn't quit, and Cody was pretty much viewed as one of the toughest guys in the house. I was expecting a scrap that would possibly rival the kind of fight that Raquel and I had. 

The dynamic in the house had started to change quite a bit at this point. Almost everyone had fought and the normal day-to-day routines had started to change. None of us really expected what was coming next. The whole experience was just impossible to predict. Stay tuned to find out why I say that. 


**Tune in two weeks from now (next week is a recap episode) to hear Jessamyn's thoughts on the continued tension between coaching staffs, more in-depth stories from the house and her thoughts on the fights between Peggy Morgan and Sarah Moras, as well as the bout between Cody Bollinger and Anthony Gutierrez.