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.
Maybe this week's episode will surprise some people, but then again, maybe it won't. Before I get into the obvious issue that was focused on this week, I'll talk about the matchup between Cody and Anthony.
I expected this matchup to be one of the best fights of the season. Anthony had proven that he was tough, scrappy and could come back to win a fight even if he had a slow start. Cody was clearly one of the top guys in the house. Not only was he a large guy for 135, he had one of the most impressive fights to get into the house against a very good opponent. So we all expected this fight to be one of the best so far. There wasn't much else to do besides train and look forward to fights, so the general consensus in the house was that we were all excited to see this matchup.
However, looking back in retrospect, it's no surprise that the things that happened, happened. Cody and Anthony were good friends. They always hung out together in the house, and they both played the role of partner in crime when it came to eating crap food. These two were ALWAYS struggling with their diets.
As a teammate of Anthony's, we came to him concerned about this, and he assured us that he knew his body and that he would make the weight just fine. I know that cutting weight is a very individual thing and every athlete can get away with cheating to different degrees. So, after Anthony insisted that he knew what he was doing, we all backed off and just let him do his thing. Cody wasn't on our team, but he basically told everyone the same thing. "I'm a wrestler, I don't miss weight" was said often.
On the day of weigh-ins, as far as Team Rousey knew, everything was going fine. We didn't have much reason to think that any serious problem was forming. We all thought that Cody might be having a hard cut, but I don't think any of us really expected to have that meeting called in the gym that day.
We had gone to our morning training session, and once it was over and we were in our locker room, we were told we had to hang out in there for a bit and no one told us why. Immediately we all started assuming there had to be some sort of problem with Cody's weight because the weigh-ins were that afternoon. Why else would Dana be at the gym when he normally wasn't?
So after being on ice for almost an hour, we finally got called into the gym and we had seen Cody drinking water and stuff in the hallway. Right away we knew the fight was off. Weigh-ins were over four hours away and he's drinking? It was obvious what had happened.
The only way to describe what happened was that Cody gave up. He made a choice. When it comes to fighting, I believe that the process of making weight is the real work. It's the part that isn't fun, it isn't pleasant, but we HAVE to do it in order to be allowed to do the part that we all love.
My good friend, the Queen of Spades, says it best. "I get paid to make weight. I would fight for free." There is no excuse for missing weight. I think Cody is a great guy, an incredible fighter and he was absolutely one of the biggest threats on the whole show...but he couldn't make weight so none of that mattered, and that's a real shame.
The other unfortunate part of missing weight is that it doesn't just affect you. It affects your opponent as well. Anthony had cut all the way to 136 at the time Cody gave up. By the time weigh-ins had arrived, he would have been sitting perfectly on weight. Cutting weight like that is extremely hard on your body. Fighters have it down to a science so it's as healthy as possible, but it's still not something you want to do to your body on a regular basis.
The whole thing put Anthony in a lose-lose situation in my opinion. His choices were either cut weight again in three days, fight and have less than a week to recover for the semifinals or take a bye. He made the intelligent choice and took the bye into the next round of the tournament, and none of us on the team really blamed him. It obviously wouldn't be something that any of us would have bragged about, but we all understood.
So, that left it to Peggy Morgan and Sarah Moras to save the day. Both ladies made weight and were ready to go at it. Peggy was finally acting like a normal person once she got some actual food into her system. For weeks she had lived off broccoli and berries so that she could make the weight. Quite honestly, if I would have been asked to make a prediction on a fighter missing weight, I would have probably said that Peggy would be the one to miss. She had more to cut than anyone else. But she proved everyone wrong and made the weight like a pro.
The fight didn't go at all like we were hoping. The ladies had some decent exchanges in the first part of the round. Sarah went for a takedown and Peggy defended it and continued the striking exchanges. However, Sarah timed a jab from Peggy and landed a solid takedown. Peggy did the right thing and sprawled great at first, but instead of clearing the distance, she actually just went ahead and pulled guard. Once this happened, Sarah just methodically worked on passing Peggy's legs and eventually got mount, inflicted some ground-and-pound and then took the armbar for the finish. Sarah employed her game plan almost perfectly. We said from the beginning that it was just going to be a matter of who could impose their will, and Sarah proved to be the better fighter that day.
As usual, as soon as the fights were over, it was time to determine the next matchups. However, this time it was for the semifinal fights. The coaches and Dana spoke to all the semifinalists and asked them who they wanted to fight. My favorite part of the episode was all the women asking to fight Jessica, and when it was Jessica's turn her answer was that she would gladly fight any of them.
The final decision was that it would be Julianna Pena vs. Sarah Moras, Raquel Pennington vs. Jessica Rakoczy, Chris Holdsworth vs. Michael Wooten and Davey Grant vs. Anthony Gutierrez. For the first time since the show started, we would have a full week of no fights so that everyone could have plenty of time to prepare for their opponents and make weight. On Team Rousey's side, we were all motivated and focused for our teammates that had won their fights. Practices were productive and positive, and we all felt really good for what was to come next.
**Tune in next week to hear Jessamyn's thoughts on the continued tension between coaching staffs, more in-depth stories from the house and her thoughts on the fight between Chris Holdsworth and Michael Wootten.