Meet three TUF 10 hopefuls

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of the UFC stars before them and gain a spot on The Ultimate Fighter season 10, 186 middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight fighters from all over the world showed up in Seattle, Washington on April 6th for an open casting call. PRO MMA (promma.info) was there to get a first look at the TUF 10 hopefuls.

The tryouts consisted of three phases: grappling, striking, and a personal interview. Following each of the first two phases, the names of the fighters that impressed the judges and made it to the next phase were called out. For the fighters who made the cut to the interview phase, they were told the final decisions would be made in a week or two and those selected to take part in The Ultimate Fighter season 10 would be notified.

From inexperienced to established, run-of-the-mill to out of this world, the makeup of fighters that tried out was anything but monotonous. Some were nervous while others seemed very relaxed and composed. Some made it all the way to the interview phase while many did not get past the grappling round.

In the end, The Ultimate Fighter is a reality show, and some fighters will be chosen to participate based more on their personality and not on fighting ability alone. A few fighters seized the opportunity and looked very impressive during tryouts. The following are a few of the standouts that stood out to us at PRO MMA (promma.info) while covering the TUF 10 tryouts.

Josh Watson

LHW/HW Josh Watson (2-0): 
“The tryouts were a bit hectic. You weren’t given much time to show what you have and to impress anyone. You definitely can’t walk in there and have a bad day.”

“For me I was very nervous. I was actually more nervous than any of my fights. In a fight you know who you are going to face and what’s ahead of you. With the tryouts you didn’t know who you were going to face and it wasn’t a win or lose situation, it was a who can I impress thing. Very stressful.”

“The tryouts were hard for myself and many of the fighters who call themselves strikers. Since the first stage is two minutes of grappling there is a chance to get cut before even showing people where you’re best. Luckily for me I’ve been training my BJJ for the same amount of time as my muay thai. I just prefer to keep it standing.”

“The interview didn’t go as well as planned for the fact that all of us 205ers found out that they weren’t going to have light heavyweights on the show this year. I think we were the fallback plan if not enough good heavyweights showed up. But again, lucky for me I walk around at 240 lbs. so I am able to fight at heavyweight and they seemed to like me so who knows what could happen.”

“I traveled from Maine to the tryouts in Seattle. I think other than people who came from a different country, I probably traveled the farthest in the US.”

“Fighting in the UFC and on the TUF show would mean the world to me. It would get me one step closer to not having to work a normal job anymore and to truly just fight for a living. Ive been training now for over 3 years. I have a 1-0 amateur record and a 2-0 pro record. I was worried because when the tryouts started, Joe Silva mentioned they were looking for fighters with 3 or more pro fights. He just said if you didn’t have that many fights, we would just have to impress them that much more.”

Editor’s note: Josh Watson is sponsored by Chess Game Fight Gear, an official sponsor of PRO MMA (promma.info).

Casey Manrique

MW Casey Manrique (1-0):
“Fighting MMA is much easier if you see it as a path and not a destination. I didn’t even think about going to the tryouts prior to my fight because that would have taken focus from the present, which was to finish Daryl Cutler.”

“So having no prior intentions or industry connections, I got in my car at 3:30 AM Monday morning and drove north. I wasn’t even sure I’d be allowed to try out so when they told me any fighter could move on if they showed enough potential, I knew I had to be very dynamic in my grappling.”

“I was in the first match of the day and showed a wide variety of offensive and defensive skills including triangle bait-to-guard pass, a slick guillotine from half guard for a tap and a gogoplata to omoplata combo just as time ran out. Since it was the first match, the room was dead quiet and every eye in the room was fixed on the action. Later the room would become noisy, crowded, and full of people tired of watching grappling. Of the first group of 50 middleweights, I was one of 20 who made it through. The second group of middleweights appeared stronger than my group and It seemed like maybe 30 made it through. I think at that point the UFC had their quota which included more experienced pros for the interviews but the next announcement of cuts would come after the striking.”

“In retrospect, I believe the striking phase was more of a formality than a tryout. If anything, they were having us throw a couple (literally 2 or 3) combinations just to make sure they weren’t advancing total squids. Although I might have looked snappier with a more firm pad holder, I really do think they had their guys at that point.”

“Before announcing cuts Joe Silva made a speech about how much experience would count for and how if you saw a guy make it who didn’t look as good as you on the feet (of which there were a few) that was the explanation. The list of finalists was read and my name was not among those called.”

“I was however lucky enough to catch Joe Silva (who was about to make a cell phone call) outside on my way to the car and I just asked, “Experience?” and he said “That’s it, just go out a get some more fights.” I gave him a thumbs up, hopped into my car, and with left the Marriott a better man than when I’d woken up that morning. With a three day old pro record, I had gotten to showcase my skills in front of a fresh-eyed Joe Silva (trust me, he wasn’t even watching the entire matches toward the end there!), arguably the most important man in MMA.”

“If making season ten had been my path, I would have walked it happily. Since season ten is not my path, I will simply continue on as a 1-0 pro with an increasingly bright future in the sport. It didn’t hurt the home life any either, as my wife is having our 3rd child in June.”

Demico Rogers

HW Demico Rogers (4-0):
“I am 4-0. My background is wrestling. I wrestled two years in high school and made it to state my senior year. I train at Ring Sports United in Bellevue, Washington with Mark Messer, who is an excellent stand-up coach. I have been training for two-and-a-half years in MMA starting with Jiu-jitsu. I have won three Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and one Pankration tournament before starting MMA.”

“I thought the tryouts went surprisingly well. Most of the heavyweights were not well rounded; they had great strengths and great weaknesses. Joe Silva has a great eye for identifying skilled fighters. I was worried going into the tryouts, but felt very confident once I was done. I was worried about getting the call because I was not as experienced as many of the guys.”

“It is a huge opportunity, but my mother always taught me to have a backup plan. If for some reason I cannot use fighting to make a living and support my family, I have other skills to fall back on. I am also a master certified Mercedes Benz technician and have been with a local Mercedes dealership for seven years. But make no mistake, if I am called to be on the show I will absolutely use this opportunity to showcase my skills and grow as a fighter. I’m going to do all I can to win this thing.”

Check out the exclusive PRO MMA (promma.info) photo gallery from the TUF 10 tryouts.

By:  Jeff Howard