EXCLUSIVE | Raquel Pennington’s Official TUF Episode 10 Blog For BJPENN.COM
I felt bad for Sarah because it seemed like the spotlight never got to shine for her. First Cody missing weight and everyone was so distracted with that then when she won usually we would go in the locker room and celebrate a little bit but this time we entered the locker room and the coaches started talking about the semi final match ups.
Julianna was on one side of the room all quiet, I was on the other and the guys didn’t have a whole lot to say. You could tell that Sarah was looking/wanting the attention that she deserved for her victory.
Now the semi final match ups were chosen. Jessica vs. myself, Sarah vs. Julianna, Davey vs. Anthony, and Chris Vs. Michael. The stress of knowing who my next opponent would be was a relief. I didn’t know if I would fight Jessica who is on the opposite team or if I would fight my own teammates who are also my roommates.
The tension was high with Team Tate because it felt like the coaches played favorites toward Julianna and Chris but no one spoke of it.
Sarah opened up a little about it when Rhonda came over and celebrated with all the fighters who were done in the tourney and we were trying to avoid eating the crappy food so we sat outside. I just told her that she needed to believe in herself and what got her this far in the first place and that I would help her train and not to over think things and have confidence she has already fought Julianna, beat her, and has been training with one another this whole time and knows how one another fought.
At training Julianna was working a lot with Miesha and Chris was working with the other coaches. I was kind of in my own world struggling with the injuries of a broken hand, my forearm, and just the overall soreness from my fight with Jessamyn. It was hard to train throwing punches and wanting to wrestle or grapple when I felt like my body was just falling apart as the minutes passed.
Josh and Louis kind of just sat around and Roxy and Sarah did their own thing as well. For me it felt like things were getting very tough overall having to fight so many fights back to back, remain focused, not have the chance to take time to actually let the body heal the way it needs to and keep your mind on the prize while others got to do as they pleased. By the end of practice I spoke for the rest of the team and brought it to the coach’s attention and told them it’s affecting everyone.
That night at the house it was another typical evening just hanging out and the coaches came by and had a silly string war. It was a lot of fun to do something different, actually have fun and let loose with our whole team and kind of bond again and break some of the tension.
Then the coaches brought Kenny, who talked to us for over an hour, told us his life struggles and it was a list of things that just really hit home with me and reminded me of a lot of things in my life and many struggles. It was a perfect time for something like this because I think a lot of people were mentally breaking including myself. I know our coaches had wonderful intentions for us and one thing was they were very positive and always tried to keep us motivated in some shape or form. I think some just had their comfort zones with knowing one another prior to TUF 18 and favoritism wasn’t intentional and it just happened that way, so communication was needed.
At training the next day Kenny came and watched. I again focused more on trying to heal my body, took an ice bath and did more cardio to try to get my muscles to relax. Sarah still struggled with emotions but trained on one half the gym while Julianna was on the other. Chris just remained focused on sharpening his skills and getting a sweat going to cut weight, he had the perfect game plan to use his technique and wanted to get Michael to the ground.
Weigh-ins came and of course both fighters had the discipline and did the hard parts of the job made weight and went home to replenish.
I could tell that Chris was beyond focused and nothing was getting in the way, I had a wonderful gut feeling for him. I finally felt relaxed for the first time at the fight because I had the confidence in him. I knew Michael was struggling with recovery and starting to get home sick and that takes a toll on you along with all the stress mentally, physically, and emotionally that came from the house the rest of the time.
Fight began and Chris did exactly as he had planned, he took control after punches were thrown, he tied up with Michael and from there Chris did exactly what he was good at and went for submissions and transitioned well, then became a spider monkey, jumped on Michael, worked his way to his back, got the body lock and just worked the rear naked from there.
It was great to see a team-mate get the win again, but it’s always hard to watch a friend, someone you have lived with for weeks and built a relationship with, take the loss and go through the emotions and the heart-break!
Chris is now one of the male finalists and he deserved it! Remained disciplined the whole time focused and determined. Now to prepare Sarah and Julianna as they go into battle and try to get my head and body ready for my fight.