Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres file photo: Spike TV
I was up early and on a plane to Vegas. That’s how I remember it.
It took about five hours to get there, and after all that sitting on the plane, I guess they figured I should sit some more in my hotel room. The put us in a hotel called the Police Station, I mean, Palace Station. Sorry, but I get confused with both places since I was stuck in a small room with nothing to do but pace back and forth and put down as many orders as I could on the request list.
The other fighters and I were all confined to our hotel rooms for two days. Every once in a while, someone would come in, group us together and run tests on us. They asked us weird and penetrating questions. At times, we hardly seemed human. After spending two days on mindless activities and keeping to myself, freedom came my way. They transported us to the UFC Training Center and pitted us against each other in fights that would determine who would get into “The Ultimate Fighter” house.
They began to match us with our opponents, and I guess I was toward the end of the list because it felt like an eternity waiting to see who I was going to fight. Finally, after the numbers dwindled, my opponent became clear: Paul Barrow. Apparently, this guy bragged about cutting down from 180 pounds, but, hey, don’t ask me. We all lined up to get measured and to weigh in, and when I stepped on the scale, to my surprise, I was overweight. I remember UFC President Dana White asking, “What the [expletive] happened?” and saying, “You better cut that weight.” So I rushed to the sauna with sweats on and began shadowboxing. I made weight with time to spare, and I wasn’t too worried about having to cut the day of the weigh-ins.
At last, fight day arrived. Once again, after spending dull hours in that dreadful hotel room, we were piled into the vans and were on our way to see who would make it into the house. Once we got to the gym, we were separated and immediately sent to the locker rooms. I was surprised by how fast they had everything going. By the time we got there, we were already warming up and getting our hands wrapped.
I saw bits and pieces of the first couple fights but don’t really remember them too well because I was running in and out of the locker room to check and see if it was my turn to fight yet. I was ready way too early. It felt like an eternity, but my opponent’s name was finally called, and I knew I’d be called next. I was so excited that I couldn’t stop smiling. It didn’t even feel real, more like a dream, but I was there and tried my best to focus.
Georges St. Pierre’s coaches were in my corner, which helped me a lot. They were extremely calm, and I guess it kind of rubbed off on me. I no longer felt like I was going to burst out of my skin. “This is my chance,” I thought to myself, as I stared down Barrow on the other side of the Octagon.
Josh Rosenthal was the referee, so I knew there would be no early stoppages. He asked us if we were ready and followed it with his trademark “Fight!” I felt like I was in “Street Fighter.” We touched gloves, and Paul immediately rushed in for a takedown. I stopped him with a front kick to the gut, but he caught me with a nice overhand that woke me up. I returned fire with a round house to the head, and we grappled for a time. Eventually, I secured a rear-naked choke in the first round and earned my spot in the house for Season 12 of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
It took a while for the other fights to finish, so I stayed around and watched a couple of them. I couldn’t help but notice Jeff Lentz beating up Daniel Head. Man, it was epic. Blow after devastating blow, it was both exciting and horrible to watch. That Guy had no chance, and this, after telling everyone in the locker room he was going to kill Lentz and be responsible for the first MMA death.
After all the matchups were done, they told all who lost to go home. Dana congratulated the rest of us, and, once again, we were back on the vans and headed to our next destination -- “The Ultimate Fighter” house.