Ricci on TUF: "It was an absolute nightmare"
Anyone who has kept up with the 16th season of The Ultimate Fighter is aware of who the real headcases are on the show. From an outside standpoint, finalist Mike Ricci definitely seems like one of the more stable, peaceful contestants in the house.
On a recent episode of The MMA Hour, however, Ricci explains that the calm and collected demeanor we saw each week wasn't a direct reflection of what was actuallly going on in the finalist's head during the series' taping.
Ricci says that even though he knew what he was getting himself into, the psychological effects of the seclusion along with the emotional numbness he experienced definitely took a significant toll on the mental health of the Canadian welterweight from the famed TriStar Gym.
"It was an absolute nightmare, I wanted to sue for psychological damage, I wasn't the same person," Ricci said. "I actually thought I had a case, ‘I'm not the same person, I can do this and win.' But, I felt like don't get me wrong, I knew what I was getting into I knew how I was going to react. Even some of the producers in the house toward the end were like, ‘Geez, you're the most institutionalized fighter we've ever seen, we've done 11 seasons and we've never seen anyone like you, you're like a robot now.' "
Perhaps Ricci's robot-like transformation is a result of the extreme focus and withdrawal from all external distractions that is required to concentrate only on winning this grueling tournament. Ricci then went on to discuss the pain of shutting out all other aspects of life to achieve his dream, a sacrifice all contestants have to make.
"I was taken away from my family and from my friends and from life, you literally, you vanish, you're gone, there's no sign of you whatsoever," Ricci continued. "Its almost like to everyone in the outside world you're dead and you're gone. There's no sign of you whatsoever. And things like, for instance, I didn't know what was happening with my people on the outside, it was upsetting, people had gotten new jobs or changed their hairstyle or experienced different things I missed out on, it just upset me. It still upsets me to this day."
The upsetting nightmare Ricci speaks of is the test The Ultimate Fighter brings upon its competitors. The show asks the fighters the question of whether or not they are willing to sever their ties with their emotions and loved one's alike just to fight for the opportunity to accomplish what they believe they were put on this earth to do. Ricci should be proud to know that he has clearly passed this test and in turn has shown the UFC that he is indeed capable of adapting to an environment of great stress and disorientation in order to prove that he has the talent and dedication to fight on the grandest stage of them all.
Mike Ricci faces Colton Smith on Saturday, December 15 to determine the winner of the 16th season of The Ultimate Fighter. For one of these athletes, all that has been endured will gladly pay off in the form of a coveted contract with the UFC.
Check out all of our The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale news