I went into The Ultimate Fighter with a number of goals. Some of those goals are pretty obvious – namely, to fight bitches and get money. Other goals are probably less apparent. One of these goals was to not cry on camera. This might seem like a dumb thing to worry about, but it was actually something I thought about a lot. Yeah, I know Ronda cries pretty much every episode. And I’m cool with that. If she wants to cry, it doesn’t bother me. But I’m not someone who feels comfortable crying in public, and I especially don’t feel comfortable crying on television.
Well the fight between Jessica and Roxy almost messed that all up. At the end, when Roxy yelled in frustration and Jessica came over to comfort her, I had tears standing in my eyes. I couldn’t help it.
The emotions that fight brought out of everyone in the house might seem strange to people who are watching the whole thing unfold on television, but it was a really difficult fight for most of us to watch. This may have been partly because everyone was tired and homesick and some of us (me) had been living off broccoli for weeks and were starving, and so we were all more or less at the ends of our emotional ropes. But I think it also had something to do with the two women who were fighting.
So this week, I’m going to skip talking about the drama between the coaches and talk only about the two fighters.
Remember the collection of water bottles, some of which had gross gangrenous looking chunks of rotting lemon floating in them, that Jessica wanted to throw away? Yeahhhh…those were mine. I slept in the bunk above Jessica and continuously drove her completely insane with my filthy habits. Jessica spent literally hours every day cleaning the kitchen and bathroom and making sure all her things were not only tidy but also thoroughly organized in little tupperware containers she kept tucked neatly under her bed.
Meanwhile, on the top bunk, I was hanging my bras from the headboard, and letting my blankets fall through the crack between my mattress and the wall so they hung in Jessica’s face, and dropping wax earplugs on her in the middle of the night, and clipping my toenails over the edge of the bed. Through all of this, Jessica was extremely patient, but I’m pretty sure she wanted to smother me with one of the pillows that kept falling from my bunk onto hers.
Despite this pretty important difference in our characters (OCD vs. DGAF), Jessica and I were friendly with each other because we were the two mothers on the show. Jess’s son, Jesse, is almost exactly a year older than my Oliver, and both of us struggled with being away from them. Sometimes we’d be sitting together and she’d say quietly, “I miss Jesse,” and I’d know exactly what she was feeling because I was experiencing it, too.
At the same time, though, Jessica is way, way more maternal than I am. If anyone in the house had a boo boo that needed bandaging, they’d go to Jessica. If something needed to be cooked, Jessica would do it. If there were dishes left in the sink, Jessica would
clean them. When Roxy said she thought of Jessica as an older sister, she wasn’t alone. I think almost everyone in the house did.
Then there’s Roxy. I don’t think I need to tell you that Roxy is an anomaly. What I’m about to say is going to betray just how little I knew about the WMMA scene when I went into this, but when I saw Roxy at try-outs, I thought, “no way is that skinny little nerd a fighter.” I think it’s safe to assume I’m not the first person who thought this about her. And like them, I was dead wrong.
I feel like it’s okay for me to call Roxy a nerd because I’m a nerd, too. You know how it is: we can call each other nerds, but if one of the cool kids calls us nerds, it’s offensive. At the same time, though, Roxy and I occupy totally different positions on the nerd spectrum. I like playing my cello and talking about Beowulf at length; she likes watching anime and making puns. You know the human figure she fashioned out of toilet paper rolls and athletic tape? She named it “Plato” because it had a paper plate for a head. Or then there was the time we were all crawling around on the floor trying to rearrange the beds and Shayna backed up and pretty much sat on Roxy’s head by accident and Roxy called herself a “butthead” and then laughed at her own word-play until she cried.
Roxy is also the most innocent thirty year old woman I’ve ever met. Like when Anthony said he wanted a piece, and Roxy responded, “a piece of what?”, she wasn’t kidding. She really didn’t know what he meant. For a while I wondered if maybe Roxy had been raised in a convent or in some fairy tale cottage in the middle of the woods or something and that’s why she seemed so unworldly, but then I realized that it’s just in her nature to not see the ugly side of things. This is going to sound wicked cheesy, but I don’t care: Roxanne Modaferri is probably the most truly “good” person I’ve ever met. Like seriously. If Roxy wasn’t fighting, she would be Mother Teresa.
From the beginning, we’d all said jokingly that whoever had to fight Roxy was an asshole. Well, Jessica had to be the asshole. It wasn’t a fun fight for any of us to watch, but in a way, I’m glad that it happened because it revealed the human side of fighting in a way that no other fight I’ve ever seen has.