POSTED ON JUNE 16, 2010:
The Ultimate Fight Ticket
Tulsa native comes close in reality TV series. And fighters gear up for next fight night in town
Fighting Stripes. Josh “The Beast” Bryant, who trains at ACA earned his Ultimate Fighting Championship contract through the ever-popular reality series, The Ultimate Fighter, this past season.
Here is a quick lesson in social networking v2010. First subject: How to increase your Facebook contacts from 200 to more than 2,000 in a little more than a month.
The answer is simple: Treat people with respect, entertain millions on a reality television series, and beat the snot out of the show's most hated villain.
"It was very strange when I got back," said local UFC fighter Josh Bryant (10-0). "The Ultimate Fighter started showing and people started asking to be my friend. Next thing you know I fight (Jamie) Yager and BAM! I'm bombarded with friendship requests."
Bryant, who trains at ACA, 4331 S. Mingo, earned his Ultimate Fighting Championship contract through the ever-popular reality series this past season. He acquitted himself with class and represented Tulsa MMA with dignity. He kicked a lot of ass, too.
Bryant came up one fight short of the ultimate prize. He impressed enough to fight on the undercard of Saturday night's live finale on Spike TV. He takes on one of the top contenders from season 11, Kyle Noke (16-4-1).
"He's got good Muay Thai and good jujitsu. I feel like (with) my wrestling and my punching from the inside and dirty boxing ... I'll be able to dominate there too," Bryant said.
Coweta High is where "The Beast" earned his wrestling stripes. He's put in four hard years of training to make it this far.
It has been quite a roller coaster ride. Open tryouts were in Los Angeles. His friend Boh Dupree prodded him to fly out and give it a shot. He even put Josh up in a hotel for two nights.
Would Josh's wife Sara agree to him being gone for six weeks if he made the final cut? "She supported me the whole time," he said. "She said, 'Absolutely you should tryout. Why not? What are you going to lose?' If she says do it and you don't, then you are a jackass. I did it, and it worked out in the end."
The TUF tryouts were a mental test as much as a physical test. Sure, Dana White and Joe Silva made sure the fighters could grapple and strike, but then the Spike TV producers took over.
"There were almost 400 people there," he said of the tryouts in LA.
Bryant's 10 fights up to this point were at light heavyweight. At the last minute, after the work-outs, Spike officials summoned the 205-pound fighters to a room and made an announcement. TUF season 11 would feature 185-pound middleweights only.
"Immediately, I raise my hand. I say, 'I can make 185,'" he said. It'd been a long day. It's 8pm by now, and the fighters were punchy. Josh pushed through the mental strain and stepped up to the plate.
Coming from the wrestling background, he knew making 185 was possible. Many of the 205-pound fighters threw in the towel and walked away.
His first interview session with Spike officials went well. He got the call back to Las Vegas on Spike's dime. This round consisted of physicals and more pushy interviews.
UFC fighter and local MMA star Gerald Harris competed on season seven of TUF. He was able to give Bryant a heads up on timing of call backs and the interview process. Josh knew the next call would mean two weeks away from fighting in Vegas. Harris's insight proved to be on the mark.
When Bryant finally received word he was selected to be on the show, the celebration was limited. It was top secret due to the nature of the reality program. Six weeks in a house with 27 other tough guys would follow.
"I went in there to be myself," he said. "If people liked it, great. If not, sorry because that's just me. I wanted to be professional. I did not want to be remembered like Yager. There is more to it than just fighting. I wanted to be able to brand myself when I got out."
He's done just that. You can follow Bryant on Facebook, Twitter and at his website, joshthebeastbryant.com.
There's More MMA
The Xtreme Fighting League returns to the SpiritBank Event Center, 10441 S. Regal Blvd., Friday, June 25. We caught up with a few of the fighters on the card. Here is what they are thinking heading into an action-packed night of fights.
The headlining fight is a catch-weight bout between the XFL 185 and 205-pound champions. Trey "That Just Happened" Houston moves up to 195 pounds to battle the veteran Rudy Lindsey.
"He is going to be the stronger, more experienced fighter," said undefeated prospect Houston. "In order to win, I am going to have to be faster and use better technique. Rudy is one of the guys who I remember seeing compete and looked up to when I first started in this sport, so either way it is an honor to get the chance to fight him."
Former 170-pound champ Levi "The Marine" Avera bulks up to face former 185-pound champ Brandon Gaines in a middleweight showdown. Avera is coming off of a loss and looks to bounce back in impressive fashion.
"I am going to work my angles and ground game to pick apart his stand up and exploit his weak ground game," Avera said. He will walk out to The Chimpz new hit "Loose Cannon," which was reworded to fit the MMA scene.
In a kickboxing match, Randy "Boom Boom" Blake battles Eric Bell in a standup war. Blake was last seen kicking a cranium five rows into the stands.
Last fight, he strolled to the cage in style to Michael Jackson. This time? "My walkout song is always a surprise, but you will know it is 'Boom' time," Blake said.
An undercard battle pits T-Town favorite Trey Simpson against Derrick Moore. Simpson is coming off of a tough defeat and looks to bounce back. More importantly, he's enjoying the ride.
"Win or lose, I'm going continue to fight because I love the challenge and the rush that comes with conquering that challenge," Simpson said. "Victories are fantastic, but there is much to learn in defeat as well. It's all about the journey."
Several quality fighters fill in the remainder of the scheduled 15-bout fight card; Paul "The Saint" Linam and Josh "The Platypus" Pulsifer continue to work their way toward the national circuit.
Oh, and expect a guest appearance from Josh "The Beast" Bryant as well. Tulsa MMA keeps bringing the hits. Call Apollo's Mixed Martial Arts at 627-7070 for ticket information.
Knee you at the fights.
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