On last night’s edition of “The Ultimate Fighter,” viewers got to see not one, but two eliminations with Jeremy May losing via TKO in the first round to Matt Brown and Luke Zachrich losing via a second round TKO.
I spoke with the former Division I wrestler about his loss last night to Daniel Cramer and while Zachrich was introspective about some of the reasons why he was defeated, he was unwilling to make excuses.
You can read the transcript of our conversation below.
Sam Caplan: On TV last night, they portrayed Daniel Cramer as a pretty boy. Was that an accurate feeling in the house, and do you think anyone took him lightly because he didn’t look like a traditional fighter?
Luke Zachrich: No, not really. It was more just one of those things that everyone in the house just joked with him about. When he got on the show we were told he used to work at a country club and that he’s from Connecticut. He’s got a degree in economics. He’s a very smart, talented kid. As far as how I was looking at things going into that fight, he obviously kicked the crap out of Jeremiah Riggs just to get in the house and I took nothing away from him. I didn’t want to look at him in a light where I thought it was going to be an easy fight because he’s obviously a lot tougher than he looks.
Sam Caplan: Can you talk about the process that went into picking Cramer as an opponent. Team Forrest had control and I realize they were flipping coins in regards to who would get to fight, but I am assuming you guys weren’t flipping coins when it came to picking opponents?
Luke Zachrich: At that point, there were very few competitors to choose from. And we were all looking at it as far as which fighter matches up better with the other fighters. There were a couple of different guys that we talked about fighting, Gerald Harris and C.B. Dollaway, both, because they are good wrestlers but I feel I have very good takedown defense, and my coaches saw that. But in Dan Cramer, he was basically just a jiu-jitsu guy — or so we were told, at least that what’s my coaches told me. The feeling was that it wouldn’t be possible for him to take me down and then I could out-strike him on our feet. We pretty much though that was a definite win for us, too.
Sam Caplan: So going into the show, you didn’t know much about him?
Luke Zachrich: You know what? Nobody really knew much about anybody, to tell you the truth. The only real exceptions were Tim (Credeur) and Dante (Rivera), guys who have been fighting for years and years and who are in the upper ranks of belt rankings for jiu-jitsu. As far as the preliminary fights to get into the house, a lot of us didn’t even see those all of those. I didn’t get to see a number of those fights. So I didn’t see Dan fight (and) I knew nothing about him personally. I just went off what my coaches told me.
Sam Caplan: The UFC has recently started to cut a lot of fighters that have been involved with TUF. Are you still under contract to the UFC?
Luke Zachrich: Currently, yes.
Sam Caplan: Have they talked to you at all about appearing on the finale?
Luke Zachrich: Yeah, I’ve heard talk but I haven’t been talked to about it. But I guess after Matt Riddle came out and said to everybody that he was fighting on the finale that they no longer wanted everybody talking about it.
Sam Caplan: You write an excellent blog for our friends at MMAjunkie.com. In this week’s writeup you talked about how Forrest’s practices were tough and some of the guys fighting flat because of it. You also mention in this week’s blog that you can’t believe how you got so tired at the end of the fight. Do you feel Forrest is at fault in any way?
Luke Zachrich: You know, I’m not going to blame Forrest for my loss. I’m not saying it was a part of the reason why I lost the fight, but I think it might have contributed to me tiring like I did. I’m one of those fighters that goes out there at 100 percent for the whole entire fight. I think it was a combination of Dan actually pushing me early and he came at me almost the whole entire fight. He had me backing up a lot of times. I think it was a combination of Dan pushing at such a high pace and him starting to get a couple shots on me while standing. I felt that once my limbs started going that my body started shutting down and I think that’s kind of how over-training came into play.
Sam Caplan: How do you get involved with doing a blog for Junkie?
Luke Zachrich: When I came back, the guys at American Fighter asked if I had been on opposite sides of C.B. (Dollaway) and I told them “yes” and next thing you know, I was blogging. They had it set up for me since the day I got home.
Sam Caplan: Do you read MMA websites and blogs on a regular basis?
Luke Zachrich: Before the show, no, I never really read too many people’s blogs. But now, since I’ve been a part of this, and a lot of the other guys are writing blogs out there for different websites, I’ve definitely been trying to read them all. I’m trying to get an insight into what everyone else was thinking because pretty much for the first four weeks everyone was sort of a closed book.
Sam Caplan: You mention how people were a closed book, and Matt Brown seemed to be one of those guys. On the show, he was portrayed as a man of action but few words. What do you think of his portrayal on the show thus far?
Luke Zacharich: The thing about Matt is that nothing he’s done that’s been shown has been an act. It’s not been edited (and) it’s not been shown in a better light for Matt. If anything they aren’t showing as much of everyone talking about what a tough guy Matt is. They are really downplaying it to a certain extent. I met Matt about two years ago. I wasn’t even a part of team Jorge Gurgel at that time. I was in Columbus a month or two between places. I had just left Dan Severn’s camp in Michigan. It was me, Dorian Price, and Matt Brown, and we were all training in this guy’s garage where Sean Salmon was training at the time. We were all in this tiny ass little garage with stuff hanging up on the walls and some mats on the floor. The first time I saw Matt you could tell what a tough kid he was right off the bat. He doesn’t care where and he doesn’t care who you are, he’s going to go hard no matter what. He’s a good person to have around you.
Sam Caplan: Being on the show isn’t a fun time for a lot of the fighters. What’s the first thing you did when you got back from the show?
Luke Zachrich: Nothing. I sat. The first three days at home, I didn’t want to deal with anything. I pretty much watched movies, watched TV, and I checked out a bunch of different stuff on the Internet. It was weird, but I really didn’t want to talk to anybody. It was kind of like I was de-socialized a little bit when I was there and I needed to get away from people for a little bit.