If you’re selected to appear on The Ultimate Fighter reality show competition but lose in the preliminary round, failing to earn a spot in the infamous house of trash-talking, juvenile pranks, and television deprivation, there are no guarantees. Even if you have a solid resume and put on a strong performance in front of UFC President Dana White and the TUF coaches in a losing effort, you can’t expect to get a quick callback to make your UFC debut.
Still, you would think middleweight prospect Victor O’Donnell (11-2) would’ve received a phone call from White or Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker by now.
On TUF 11, O’Donnell went back-and-forth in a grinding battle with Chris Camozzi (14-3). Camozzi and O’Donnell split the first two rounds and needed an overtime round to determine a winner. Although Camozzi won, he actually suffered a broken jaw and had to withdraw from the competition.
O’Donnell told ProMMAnow.com that the Camozzi fight was the toughest of his career thus far, despite some of the other high-level competition he’s faced.
“There was a lot of pressure,” O’Donnell said. “It was kind of intimidating fighting in front of Dana White. It seemed like an audition instead of a fight. I didn’t have my friends and teammates, but strangers, warming me up.”
Asked if he could’ve done anything differently against Camozzi, he replied, “I should’ve been more patient. I didn’t keep a clear head; I kept thinking about home.”
In the end, Seth Baczynski, the only other participant to lose a decision after three rounds, took Camozzi’s spot. Tough break? Sure. But other guys have had to wait before stepping into the Octagon or receiving their big opportunity, so why does O’Donnell deserve one?
Glad you asked. Since coming up short in his TUF 11 showdown with Camozzi, O’Donnell has gone 3-1, with his only loss coming by decision against talented M-1 veteran Marcus Vanttinen (18-2). The only other setback on O’Donnell’s record was also by decision, against fellow TUF 11 candidate Costantinos Phillipou.
Hanging with tough opponents is nice, but you also need strong wins to really impress people. Well, O’Donnell has those, too. In 2009 he submitted UFC veteran Forrest Petz and followed that up with a TKO victor over Rafael Natal, who fought Jesse Bongfeldt to a draw on Dec. 11 at UFC 124.
“I deserve a big shot at a big show,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell will have another chance to make his case at Cage Fury Fighting Championships on Feb. 5 in Atlantic City, N.J. There, he will compete in a feature bout against undefeated Ricardo Almeida student Andrew Riddles (5-0).
O’Donnell asked to thank the following: “I would like to think my whole team at Vision MMA. Special thanks to Aaron Thomas. He is my Jiu Jitsu coach and spends a lot of time with me.”