(A face that will haunt your dreams. Props: Rich’s Facebook page.)
In the latest installment of his TUF 11 guest-blog for CagePotato.com, Team Liddell’s Rich Attonito discusses the challenge of fighting teammates, last night’s battles, and the Saul Soliz "fat fuck" incident.
With one quarterfinal fight down, we move right into the next matchup. This time it would be Noke vs. McCray, two guys in the house who were friends and training partners before the show. It was gonna be interesting to see how they would handle the situation. It no easy task to have to fight a friend, but with the stakes at hand the friendship would have to be temporarily put to the side so business could be handled. On top of that, the self-proclaimed gang "The Minority Report" was gonna have to deal with two of their street soldiers doing battle in the Octagon.
I knew when the show started that the possibility of fighting one or more of my teammates existed. I thought it would be an awkward situation since each of us would already know what our strengths and weaknesses were. After we got into the house it was only Charlie Blanchard and I left. When we both got picked by Chuck I knew the probability of fighting each other was greatly reduced, but still a possibility. I figured if we had ended up having to fight each other it would be no different then what we do in training every day, except a little more violent and it would count for a lot more then just macho points.
I always felt it’s necessary to have some degree of separation between myself and an opponent, and this wouldn’t change even if I did have to fight one of my teammates I was living with. For me it’s necessary to have some level of detachment from the guy I’m fighting so that I can get in the cage and do what’s needed to win, which could inevitably mean hurting the guy.
I remember Kyle and Kris were hanging out back at the house after the weigh-in, pretty much the entire night. Of course other people were around too, but I know I would have a tough time detaching myself from the guy I was fighting if we were sitting around shooting the breeze up until fight time. On the day of the fight before it was time to leave for the gym, they were sitting around kicking it like it was just another ordinary afternoon. Personally I found it strange, because of the reasons I stated above, but then again everyone is different so why question other people’s methods.
In the end Kris pulled off a big upset and defeated Kyle by unanimous decision. It was definitely a shocker to our team, and I’m pretty sure everyone else. But Kris did a great job and implemented his game plan on Kyle to grind out the win.
Next on the menu was Brad versus Seth. This seemed to be an exciting matchup that everyone wanted to see. I was certain these guys would both oblige a stand-up fight and go to war. But Seth surprised everyone on Team Liddell, including Brad, by charging in and going for a takedown. After Brad survived an anaconda-like body triangle for most of the round, he got payback by eliciting some serious ground and pound on Seth. Then in the flurry of action at the end of the round Seth thought he was kicking the winning field goal in the Super Bowl and booted Brad right in the face while he was on the ground.
Seth was immediately apologetic. I remember he felt horrible for what happened, he’s not a dirty fighter by any means. He just got caught up in the heat of the moment.
Speaking of heat of the moment, soon after the fight was called I got into it with Team Punishment coach Saul Soliz. He made some comments that I thought were disrespectful towards me and I let him know that I didn’t appreciate it, in the only way a guy who was born and bred in North Jersey knows how to do. I remember feeling like everyone in the room turned and looked at me. James Hammortree was right near me and I remember him telling me, "calm down, calm down. Its not worth it." I took his advice and walked clear off the bleachers and over to a far corner so I could regain my composure. I needed to get myself away from the situation before it escalated.
Surprisingly enough the situation escalated itself (thats sarcasm for all the stiffs out there). Everyone’s emotions were running high and soon the room erupted in what seemed like a near gang-riot. Chuck came across the room towards Tito and I’m honestly not sure what would have happened if he got in punching distance. People were everywhere trying to make sure that wouldn’t happen. Meanwhile, Jake Shields was real fired up and ready to pummel Tito himself. In the end, the crisis was diverted and everyone returned to their respective dressing rooms.
After everything calmed down a bit I took the opportunity to head over to Team Punishment’s room and make my apology to Saul. He gracefully accepted and apologized in return. I extended my apology to the rest of the coaches and team. I didn’t want there to be any bad blood or awkwardness over the situation. Everyone was cool and I was relieved that the situation was over and behind us. I felt like all was right with the universe again, at least in my world.
I remember the next time there was a fight Stitch Duran pulled me aside. He was laughing his ass off at the comment I made to Saul a few days prior. He said it was so funny that he went home and told his wife. My intention wasn’t humorous and I wasn’t proud of my reaction, but at least I got a laugh out of somebody.
Thanks to my sponsors: Buffalo Wings & Rings (Coconut Creek), Institute of Human Performance (IHP), and American Top Team. Be sure to follow me @ twitter.com/RichAttonito and on Facebook for all the updates on my life and training.