Amanda Bobby Cooper is a strawweight contestant on Season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Joanna vs Team Claudia. This season Cooper has signed on to write weekly blog posts that offer the inside scoop on life in the house as well as previewing what’s ahead.
I won, I did it, I was going into the Ultimate Fighter house. In my life, I’ve found it a good practice to set short term and long term goals to reach my highest objective. My biggest desire was to be crowned champion of Season 23 of the Ultimate Fighter, but in the way of that goal was a series of small tasks that I needed to accomplish first. I read a quote that once said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit," - Aristotle. I tried to focus on making it a habit in my life to conquer small tasks to always build my confidence and to take another step in right direction. Winning that initial fight to get into the house put my mindset into a place where I felt that if I could keep focusing on the small goals, it would make the entire process a little bit easier.
After I won my fight was the only moment of sadness during this experience, I had to say goodbye to my boyfriend and coach. He was the one who talked me into trying this event and after seeing how excited he was, it was easier to say goodbye. I said to myself, “I know I’m going to be doing this for us and I am determined to prove I belong in the finale.” Seeing his excitement and hearing his words of encouragement made the goodbye a little bit easier, but it was still scary to think we wouldn’t speak for six weeks.
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Living in a mansion in Las Vegas having every need and want provided to you sounds incredible, however people don’t take into account the reality of missing your family, your friends, your animals, etc. It was such a shock to go from a normal routine around my loved ones to being thrown into a house with a new “team” which was a group of strangers that all have the same goal: win. Not being able to depend on my coaches, team or boyfriend made me really learn more about the strength I had within myself and made me learn to be more independent. I grew a lot as a person during this experience and gained a better perspective of my own psychology.
In the beginning, the cameras didn’t bother me and I actually felt like a rock star or movie star with the spot light being focused on even subtle details of my daily life. I wanted to share my story, I wanted people to see who I am, and I truly thought America would love getting to know me, as a person and as a fighter. Towards the end of the show, it did become difficult at times because I was at the point where I wanted my regular life back. The camera was always there for any difficult times or struggle within the house, you never felt secure in your environment because it was like being watched 24/7. I had my own “Truman Show.”
Before going into the house I told myself I would be involved in any activity and take away as much from this experience as possible. I didn’t necessarily set a goal to be friends with everyone, but I wanted to be a good person and have positive interactions with as many people as I could. I found myself very interested in hearing the new stories and learning about what each person had overcome or sacrificed to be sharing this experience with me, and of course, I wanted to share my story. I enjoyed everyone on my team and we all had our own differences which made getting along easier.
To be honest, to my surprise, in the beginning we didn’t have much trouble getting along. We all felt so grateful to be a part of this show but I knew when the fights began, and people started winning and losing, things would slowly change.