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.
It's been a little tough adjusting to life in the house. I myself have never lived with 15 other people. The two teams are on different training schedules. Claudia chose the early schedule for us so we would be training at 10am which meant we had to go to bed earlier to get up for training, which can be hard when the other team is up hanging out.
We've lived together for some time now. Everyone has kind of become friendly with each other even though we know we will potentially be fighting each other. It did feel like it was us vs. them even though we had all been chummy. We felt very confident that we could win every fight. As I'm sure they did the same. For us it felt like grapplers vs. strikers and maybe we were a little bias but we felt we definitely had the advantage.
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We went right into live training. It was very tough but I've been training for a long time now at many different places. I feel like I can tell the difference between good and bad training. Even though the training was very intense it was very good and smart training. I mean Claudia brought her team from home. Her full-time team that she works with and who have coached many people to great heights in the world of MMA. So the trust was there between us and the coaches despite how hard it was.
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We had heard horror stories about the Team Joanna practices. Her style is very tough and cold. I do believe that works for her and others but maybe it's not for everyone. I do like hard work, no bullshit coaches but that's not for everyone. Especially with some people being new to MMA and only having a handful of professional fights. A lot of us were stepping out of our comfort zones and I think that's where the real challenge lies. One thing I will say is that Joanna hand-picked her coaches. Most of them were famous well known coaches but they all don't work together in a team basis. I feel that disconnect might have led to their troubles in training. The trust wasn't there. Versus the solid unit of coaches who work together on a daily basis. It made for smooth sailing.
After watching the first two fights I was obviously happy with the results. I felt what really made the difference in those fights was the grappling. Obviously something I'm very big on. Cory showed a lot of heart and Tatiana came in and put on a grappling clinic. I was very impressed with her. The level of wrestling she possesses is very hard to match or obtain. At one point she was the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the country. That's something you can't learn in a short period of time and makes her style perfect for this tournament. I am very invested in everyone on our team and will be watching every single one with a close eye. We are a family, not just a team.