Join The Rising Mixed Martial Arts Star Chase Hackett
Everyday around lunch time I'll browse the web at work and catch up on the latest MMA news or read some hilarious forums on the underground (www.mixedmartialarts.com). A little more than a month ago I saw the news that the next season of The Ultimate Fighter would feature both welterweights (170lb) and lightweights (155lb - my weight division). I then read that the UFC would be holding open tryouts in Vegas on Monday, December 5th. Needless to say I had a difficult time keeping my focus at work the rest of the day. Sorry to those I work with that read this! I was more excited than a schoolgirl that just got asked to the Sadie Hawkins dance.
December 4th. Chris Camozzi and I boarded our flight to Vegas around 730pm. As we're getting on the plane we starting getting hit with a nasty snow storm. I'm not going to lie, the fact that we could barely see out our window made me pretty nervous, "Are they really going to take off in this?!" Well they did but I made Chris hold my hand during takeoff. It was fairly late by the time we got in, picked up the rental car, and drove up the the Texas Station Hotel and Casino. Registration for the tryouts was at 8am the next morning so we got a quick bite to eat and headed to the room. Yes, I called big spoon.
The next morning I put on my singlet (actually Joe Warren's USA Wrestling singlet) along with some matching sweat bands and headed to registration. We arrived at the ballroom right at 8am to find a MASSIVE line of what looked to be hundreds of guys. Nothing like walking into a room and getting sized up by hundreds of guys that could kick my ass! After standing in line for seemed like forever, which was actually nothing compared to the waiting I did all day, I made it to the front, turned in my application, got assigned a number, and got my picture taken. Once they got through everybody, they announced that welterweights would be going first, of course. A wave of about 40 guys at a time would be taken into another room behind closed doors. After a while word starting getting around of the process.....paired up randomly with someone, a 2 minute round of grappling, followed by a couple minutes of hitting pads.
Besides getting to meet some really cool people, the day consisted almost entirely of waiting around. It was like that couple hours of waiting around before a fight but tenfold. Basically I was the second to last group to tryout. We got there at 8am and it didn't get called up until about 9pm. Nonetheless, I was still as excited as when I first got word of the tryouts. So they herded 40 something of us into the room right across the hall. There was a small area of mat space overlooked by a big table that had two people sitting at it. One a producer on the show, and the other, Joe Silva. I have met Joe a handful of times at Chris' fights but now this was the time where I meet him and really need to make an impression. We were told that the grappling portion was 90 seconds starting from the knees. If you get a submission or get submitted just start again right away. Then there would be a round of cuts prior to the striking portion. There were several groups that were in front of me and watching them was a little nerve wracking. Some of these guys were going balls to the wall, which comes with the territory, but it really made a lot of them look sloppy.
My turn finally. 90 seconds to impress a man that decides whether you go on or head home. I did work on this guy. Transitioned from mount to back control, choke, to mounted triangle, then to arm bar, when he escaped the arm bar I locked up an omoplata and got the tap with just a couple seconds to spare. It was bittersweet because I knew I performed well and would make it through to the next stage but my opponent would not have the same fate. To go head to head with a guy that has the same dream as you and you take it away to get once step closer yourself is an interesting feeling. The bottom line is I was there for myself and only myself. 5 at a time we hit pads for a minute or two. They provided qualified pad holders but I was more than grateful to have Chris there with me because he was able to hold for me. In those circumstances it was much better to be able to work with someone I train with everyday rather than someone I have never met. The UFC matchmaker walked around to each applicant and watched them throw combinations for a short time and once everybody had their chance they called out the names of those who advance. I was absolutely ecstatic to hear my name called.
No matter what happens from this point forward, I am honored to have been given the opportunity to try out for The Ultimate Fighter. Not only did I get to wear a singlet that was three sizes too small for me all day, but I was able to show a small bit of my sweet skills off to a UFC executive. Stay tuned to find out what happens or if I make the cut!