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Inside the Octagon


Mike Dolce’s “Ultimate Fighter 7” Blog – Week 4


Down but not out…

So this episode picks up on the tail end of my fight with Jesse.

Jesse fought hard and was an ox in the cage, especially in his comfort zone – on the mat. I should have been able to execute my game plan better, but could not, and paid for that. The opportunity gave me a great reference to pull from in the days and weeks to come in an effort to put myself back into contention, which was my only thought from the second Herb Dean woke me up on the floor of the octagon.

With that fight behind me, I knew I would not be fighting in the foreseeable future. Mine was the first “tournament” fight of “The Ultimate Fighter 7” and there were seven more fights to go in this round before I would be eligible to re-enter the tournament due to default. If I was truly out of the tournament, then I was out for good. But if I had any chance at all to get back in, I was not going to squander it by getting drunk and blowing my diet.

In my mind, someone was going to drop out, and a spot would open up.

My spot.

And I would be ready.

Walking back into the fighter house that afternoon, I was embraced by my peers, who all offered accolades and notions of encouragement. Among most, the consensus was that I fought my heart out to the very last second, opting to pass out rather than tap out. It’s a move respected by true fighters, and not yet understood by casual fans, though I didn’t quite grasp what was being conveyed until later that night while lying alone in my bunk.

I thanked the guys, grabbed a shower and a bite to eat, and took a much needed power nap. Team Rampage was training at 5 p.m. and I’d be damned if they took the mat without me!

Dante and Riddle

Dante Rivera is one of my good friends from back home in NJ. I was his first strength coach nearly five years ago when he was training with Kurt Pellegrino under the legendary Renzo Gracie and Ricardo Almeida. Team Renzo/Almeida is very much a family, and each of the students are bonded as brothers.

Dante and I became very close in those days, and I was excited to see him make the house with me, as well as my other good friend and Team Quest teammate, Gerald “Hurricane” Harris.

It should be of no surprise that the three of us teamed up right away and grabbed the best three-man bedroom in the house. The only room with its own full bathroom!

In the bedroom next to ours, Matthew Riddle, Matt Brown and Amir Sadollah planted their own stakes, sharing a bathroom with Brandon “Mohawk” Sene, Cale Yarbrough and Dan Cramer.

Matthew Riddle is a big, bungling kid. Kind of like a sweet rottweiler puppy that keeps crapping on the floor, but you can’t really get mad because he just doesn’t know any better.

Riddle and I got along right away. We’re both southpaws from the East Coast and the only two guys with knockouts in the 32-man tournament. We argued as to whose KO was better and both agreed that mine was more technical, but his was more memorable. Fair enough (but I still like mine better!)

What you saw of the “Dante and Riddle Show,” as it came to be known, was a pretty accurate depiction of the events as they transpired.

But more about that in the weeks to come…

Jumping to the action, I knew Tim Credeur had his hands full with Riddle. By fight time, both teams had been training together for a full week, and for us that meant 14 hardcore workouts together. I had seen Credeur fight my teammate, Chael Sonnen in Bodog, and I spent the better part of 30 hours battling Riddle in the gym. I remember thinking that this was a good match-up for Team Rampage.

Credeur is a legit Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and had been tested in international competition. His confidence was pretty high going into a fight with some punk kid who had one more MMA fight than hairs on his chin…exactly two!

But Riddle was a high school national wrestling champion and had been drafted by one of the top wrestling colleges on the East coast. Plus, he’s a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt with numerous submission victories over a few black belts in grappling tournaments. Not too shabby.

I was fortunate to corner Riddle for his fight and was impressed with his composure during the warm-ups. This kid had competed thousands of times in his, and today was just another competition.

Through the thin walls of our locker room we could hear Tim and Team Forrest screaming, yelling and slamming each other around. Not good before a fight. It seemed to me that Tim was activating too soon and starting the adrenaline dump way too early, while we on Team Rampage were keeping things fun but focused on the job at hand.

The fight itself was a battle of attrition – a seesaw of events with both guys left bleeding.

Tim proved to be too grizzled for the newcomer and exploded on a textbook armbar when Riddle lost position while trying to hit an Eddie Bravo “Twister.”

Ya can’t fault a kid for trying!

Afterwards, Riddle kept to his “Chipper” persona, especially after Credeur came into our locker room and promised to buy Riddle a brand new X-Box 360 with the $10 G’s he had just won by tapping Matthew out of the tournament.

Credeur took one step higher in my book for being a true class act.

Tune in next time as the house and the cage explodes!

Mike Dolce is a cast member of “The Ultimate Fighter 7.” He is a professional fighter, strength coach and sports nutritionist. For more information, and to read past blogs, go to www.MikeDolceMMA.com

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 24th, 2008 at 10:36 am by lvollmer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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About this blog
Web programmer by day, practicing mixed martial artist at night, Larry Vollmer Jr. brings the latest news from the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the rest of the mixed martial arts world - a fast-spreading obsession on TV and online. These are the bouts - they occur in an octagon-shaped "ring" - that test men's souls.