Amanda 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.
The announcement had been made, I will be representing Team Claudia next against one of the toughest opponents from the red team, Jamie Moyle. As we squared off, immediately after the fight selection, Joanna made the comment, "Easy fight Jamie." This remark only added to the excitement for me as I knew it wouldn't be an easy fight and they were making a big mistake in underestimating what I bring to the table.
To my surprise, once I had been chosen to compete next, I felt more relieved than stressed. I had gone multiple weeks of not knowing when I would fight or who it would be against. Finally, I had an opponent to focus on. The best part for me was that I had wanted to fight Jamie as I felt she was one of the strongest competitors on Team Joanna and securing a victory over her would not only boost my team's morale but also give me the confidence to know I can win this entire show. I believe in never backing down from a challenge and by taking the difficult route, I become the best version of myself.
Fight day had finally arrived and shockingly, it felt the same as most of my other competitions. When you initially wake up, you have nerves knowing that today is the day and one of us will experience victory. The other, heartache. Unfortunately in the sport we are in whenever someone has their best day, it's often the worst day for the other competitor. As the day went on, I became to feel more and more confident. I constantly visualized the fight and repeated self-affirmations. I desired to have my hand raised more than anything else in the world on fight day, I kept all of my thoughts and focus in that direction.
My mind is often at ease due to the overwhelming amount of love and support I receive from my friends, family and boyfriend. This makes dealing with the pressure that goes alongside with fighting a little bit easier. It reminds me why I am fighting and who I am fighting for when I'm getting ready to get in the cage.
I found a unique way of bringing my family and team in spirit during my warm up. I had written down sections of the letters my family had given to me to bring to the house on note cards and used this as motivation to conquer the challenge ahead. Reading their words of encouragement and hearing their belief in me made it as if they were in the locker room cheering me on.
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My warm up went extremely well and as it was time to walk to the cage, there was a relative harmony which is strange for this sport as it's usually chaos before you compete. Everything was organized and it was my time to shine.
Since the moment Claudia had said that I was the next bout, my entire energy had changed from the fun loving, laid back Amanda Bobby Cooper, to the focused, driven fighter who needed to secure a win for myself and my team.
Now was the time, everything had lead up to this moment, the door opens backstage and I'm walking out to the biggest fight of my career against a woman whom I've had respect for since I became a professional in this sport. And nothing else mattered.