Eric Spicely is a contestant on Season 23 of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Joanna vs Team Claudia. He will be offering episode previews and insights from his time on the show throughout the season.
Episode 2 preview - In the beginning ...
Our coach Claudia Gadelha chose to pick the first fighter, so Joanna Jedrzejczyk had control of the first match up. She Chose Khalil Rountree vs Cory Hendricks.
I kind of figured they would have picked Cory because of the injuries he sustained during his elimination fight. He had welts on his foot from the heavy leg kicks he threw. When Claudia picked him to be on our team he limped up to get his jersey.
I had a good feeling it would be Cory considering he seemed like a sitting duck.
It was my first time really meeting both of them but I’ve heard Cory is more well-rounded. Still, it was hard to put my money on him.
I was happy that I wasn’t the first pick because I knew I’d have trouble settling in. A new place, new environment, and a new climate as well as new coaches would ultimately spell disaster for me.
As I predicted I had trouble sleeping. I was getting sick right away because the air was dry and I usually get sick when I fly. So it was only a matter of time, especially after a big adrenaline dump after the elimination fights.
I did not get hit much less break a sweat so I was ready physically to fight. I also felt like I had really put everyone on notice that my grappling was high level so I didn’t think they’d throw someone at me right away. But I’m glad I didn’t get picked first.
I’m not sure if everyone knew Rountree and Hendricks were teammates, but I did. Tom Lawlor, who also trains and coaches at Syndicate MMA, and I are good friends. We used to train together here on the East coast, and I stayed with him when I came out for tryouts.
He told me that he had a few guys trying out – two being Cory and Khalil. So I was immediately shocked when they were picked first. I couldn’t imagine fighting my friend and training partner – especially in the first fight.
One of the first things I said at the dinner table is “Damn, it’s heating up – starting off hot.” I don’t believe Joanna knew they were close friends and training partners as they had no time to deliberate on fight picks.
The mood in the house was a little weird as we all didn’t really know each other. But obviously we’d like our teammate to win so that we can gain control. I don’t think the blue team has a lot of faith that Cory has a chance tonight.