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.
This week's episode has several highlights, most of them involving food. Some good, some bad. Let's start with Armenian barbecue at the house, because for me personally this was one of the best nights of the whole TUF experience for me. Not just because of the amazing food, but because it was actually my birthday!
The coaches had told us that they were gonna do an Armenian barbecue for us from the very beginning of the show, but they were waiting for the right time to do it so that the most people could enjoy it and not be cutting weight. It just so happened that my birthday fell on the perfect day for this. The only people that had fights left were the semifinalists, and even they had a full week before their fights, so timing was perfect.
They don't show any of the birthday festivities on the episode, though, which is a real shame! Rakoczy baked me a delicious red velvet cake, Ronda brought over about 15 different types of ice cream and Shayna orchestrated an amazing magic trick for my entertainment. That magic trick actually explains the ridiculous top hat she was wearing, too. She comes out on the back patio after dinner wearing a top hat and a cape and blindfolds me in a chair. After some monologuing about magic, I hear everyone start beat boxing and they take the blindfold off. Shayna drops the curtain blocking the doorway and suddenly confetti explodes everywhere and two male "strippers" that look a whole lot like Anthony and Josh and are wearing nothing but fedora hats, bow ties, and speedos come bursting out of the kitchen and give me a proper birthday lap dance.
It was one of the most hilarious and entertaining things I've ever seen. Not only that, it was incredibly thoughtful. Apparently for weeks Shayna had been planning this and ordering in stuff like speedos and recruiting the others to help with the show. In the TUF house there isn't much to do for entertainment, so the fact that the others went through all that trouble just for a one-minute lap dance that made me laugh on my birthday really meant a lot. Throwing that on top of the absolutely amazing food from the Armenian barbecue and that made for one of the most memorable birthdays I've ever had.
Now that all that's out of the way, let's talk about Davey and Anthony's fight... Or lack thereof.
Anthony had made weight for his fight with Cody exactly one week prior to his fight with Davey. They didn't show it, but I saw him step on the scale at 136 for that fight. After that weight cut, though, he kind of went crazy with the food. That whole week he kept treating himself and making exceptions. One week was the longest any of us had to prepare for a weight cut. One of the toughest parts of the show was having to always be so close to weight because if you were picked to fight, you only had 24 hours to make weight... And since you had no guarantee you were gonna fight, you had to cut weight just in case.
So the fact that he had a whole week to prepare really was a luxury, and he had no excuse not to make the weight. He just lost discipline and lost focus during that time, and it cost him the opportunity of a lifetime. It had nothing to do with him not being physically able to cut the weight either. This is why Ronda made the decision to make weight in 24 hours. The editing of the show makes it seem like Dana talked her out of it, but let me tell you what really happened...
Anthony tried to say that it just wasn't possible for him to cut the weight because he had screwed up on his diet. But here's the thing, he could have made it. He left the gym the night before at 144, which is well within a range to make the weight. There is a science to cutting weight and lots of things that we as fighters can do to make it easier on ourselves, but the BIGGEST factor in the weight cut is your mental fortitude...and this is what Ronda wanted to prove.
She jumped on the scale after Anthony missed weight and was 152 pounds. Without any sort of prep (diet, water loading, sodium loading/cutting, etc.) jumped in the sauna and was in there for FIVE hours before it was time to go to the coaches challenge. Yes, Ronda Rousey cut weight in the sauna for five hours, went to a rock climbing challenge, won, and then went BACK to the sauna that night and cut some more.
The next day when it was time for Jessica and Raquel to fight, she was at the gym before anyone else arrived and was back in the sauna cutting weight. When the rest of us arrived she was sitting at 136 pounds in the locker room. I watched her warm up Rakoczy for her fight while on weight and then step on the scale in front of Dana and be 135 pounds. She did this to prove a point.
Cutting weight is mental. You can't use screwing up your diet or your water loading as an excuse. If you miss weight, it's because you mentally broke. The fact that she pulled this off really showed that Ronda is on another level mentally. It was inspiring and motivating to see this happen in front of me. It made me realize that I never have to be afraid of missing weight... you just have to be mentally strong and never give up.
Unfortunately, Anthony gave up. He gave up, and he robbed Davey of his chance to earn his place in the finale what he wanted.
Davey trained harder than anyone else on the team and he was so motivated and excited to fight in front of Dana White and put on a show. He just wanted to make everyone proud for all the hard work and time they put into him. This is why he was so upset. Some people may not understand why he was so upset, but as a fighter, I totally understood. You put in all this work for weeks. You cut the weight. You dream about your shot...and then it's stolen away from you. It's such a letdown and so discouraging. We dream about that moment when we get to step in the cage to fight, and without that moment, all of the hard work we put in feels wasted.
So, onto next week and the ladies fight. Jessica vs. Raquel. I remember when Jessica got this fight and I saw that gleam in her eyes and heard the excitement in her voice when she talked about it, and I couldn't help but get pumped for her. Both fighters were dealing with injuries, which adds some X-factors, but this was absolutely the semifinal fight I was most looking forward to.
Jessica was a teammate and a good friend and I was confident she had the tools to win the fight...but I had also fought Raquel, and I knew fully what she brings into the cage and respected her skills and determination as a fighter. So tune in next week to see how it all unfolds. You don't want to miss it.
**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 Jessica Rakoczy and Raquel Pennington.