The Ultimate Fighter has been a roller coaster lately as far as ratings go. The last several seasons have seen an almost constant decline, with the exception of a small fluctuation here and there. A lot of that is due to several network and time/day changes in a two year span, which can be detrimental to a show in its 18th season.
Despite the tale that the numbers tell, I have a renewed interest in the show. The contributing factors to my willingness to make a conscious effort to watch the show boil down to two things. Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate 's never ending feud and the fact that the house is now in co-ed status.
That is a pretty volatile atmosphere, and I'm pretty sure the fans won't have to wait too terribly long for it to reach the boiling point. After watching the premiere this past Wednesday, I was hooked. Great fights and tons of ego reeled me right in. Of all the males in the house, one fighter in particular stood out to me, and that was Cody Bollinger.
'Bam Bam' has been around the regional circuits for more than seven years, and has even seen the inside of a Bellator cage, but for the most part has flown under the radar. At the ripe old age of 22, he boasts an impressive 14-2 record. If you've done your math, you'll realize that Cody has been fighting since he was 15 years old.
Recently, my MMA Sentinel co-host, Iain Kidd and I interviewed Bollinger, who detailed his overall thoughts going into the house, what the coveted daily requests list covered and if there was anyone in the house that managed to become the pariah of the season. Here's what he had to say:
Was Team Tate the right team?
You know honestly, at first, I'm not gonna lie, I was bummed. I wanted to be on Rousey's team. I had worked with her before and I knew her coaches real well. I just really wanted to be on that team. After a couple days of being a jerk, and finally pulling my head out of my butt, I realized it wasn't that bad. I can still work with Ronda any time. I live 45 minutes from where she trains.
Miesha brought in some incredible coaches, so like I said, once I pulled my head out of my butt, I realized it was actually better that I was on Tate's team, I think. Those are coaches I would never usually work with, and it was good to get another look that I would have never gotten.
Was there one person in particular that drove the house crazy or became the house pariah?
There was this female that really got on my nerves. I'm not going to speak for everybody else, but hopefully they will show how everyone else reacted to her. This chick really, really pushed the limits. I kind of had to pretend she wasn't there towards the end of the show.
Did having women in the house sort of help to diffuse that aggressive, alpha male vibe that tends to go hand in hand with the show?
I really think everything evened out perfectly. It did sort of diffuse the attitudes a little bit. The typical guy that wants to make everyone fear him was shut down, because it's hard to walk around and try to intimidate people when 1/2 the house is a bunch of chicks that you're never gonna fight. That would be kind of stupid [laughs].
It was a pretty chill season. I'm not gonna lie, there was some drama, and things got crazy for a couple minutes, but it was a fun, chill atmosphere. Pretty much everybody got along.
Did Ronda and Miesha's beef ever spill over into the training sessions or affect them in any way?
No, I wouldn't say it got in the way of us training. I mean, it could have a little bit. I could tell that some of the coaches might have been, but the coaches I was working with never played into it. It didn't really bother my training at all.
When we all went out and got to relax and have a little fun, that's when some stuff went down. The drama that you're going to see this season between Ronda and Miesha -- if I wasn't actually there, I would have to call BS -- what you see is real. As a matter of fact, imagine it times 10, and you might get an idea of how it was. It's all real, I promise you that.
Was there any added pressure for you being married and moving into a co-ed house for six weeks?
I hate to talk bad about the women that were in the house, and they're all beautiful in their own way, but my wife... I'm not the best looking guy, I can admit that. I got lucky as Hell to marry the woman that I did. There's no way I would ever mess that up. My wife is 10 times better looking than any chick that was on that show.
As far as the 'missing the family' aspect of it, I didn't know I was going to be there over Father's Day, so I broke down on that day, obviously. Besides that, I stayed real focused and didn't let it bother too much. I just talked to them in my head, and maybe I did go a little crazy [laughs].
What was the most surprising thing about the TUF house?
The unlimited chew. I didn't have to pay for any of my tobacco. It was two cans a day, every day, for free. That was the coolest. They really took care of us while we were there. We had a blank piece of paper where we could write anything we wanted, as much as we wanted. Every morning, that stuff would be waiting for us. I was really surprised by that.
What were some of the extraordinary requests on the lists?
Well, I ordered a pair of cowboy boots [laughs]. Yeah, I took advantage of the opportunity, and picked random stuff that I would never pay for, but thought it would be cool to have, so I got those cowboy boots [laughs]. A couple other people ordered some random stuff, too.
Cody has agreed to do more follow up interviews for our readers, so be sure to look for them in the coming weeks.
You can follow Cody via his Twitter account, @CodyBollinger