From UT to UFC: Former Spartan Vies to Be the Ultimate Warrior

In 400 B.C. Spartan warriors were know for their prowess in battle. Today, a former UT Spartan will be fighting to be the “Ultimate Fighting Champion.”

Matt Arroyo, a 2005 graduate, will appear in the sixth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” on Spike TV.

Over the weekend Matt Arroyo talked about his time at UT, his background in MMA (Mixed-Martial Arts), and what it was like being on a reality show.

M: How did you get cast for “The Ultimate Fighter?” Was there an open casting call, or were you recruited? Also, were there any requirements to be cast?

MA: In the last season, which aired in April, my friend Alan “Monstah Lobstah(sic)” Berube made it on the show. He didn’t win, but that opened a lot of doors. He found out that there was an open casting call for my weight class, and basically said “If I can get you on the show, can I be your manager?” He led the way, and I did a lot of work. On April 6th they had the first open tryouts, so I flew out to Vegas, but not before I conducted a phone interview with one of the producers of the show. I passed the tryouts easily, and I got through the interview by creating a “gimmick” that made me stand out, and so I got into the top 50. Three weeks later Spike flew me back to Vegas for a callback, which was all camera work. They stuck us in a hotel room without keys and filmed us to see if we could handle it. I felt like a lab rat, especially after all the medical tests they put us through. After two more interviews, and a two-and-a-half week wait, I got a callback from Spike saying I made it onto the show… Three days before shooting started.

M: What did you feel were your biggest advantages going into the house? Which areas did you try to improve the most on before the show started?

MA: Motiviation was my biggest advantage. The fact that I was in shape before the show started shooting was a help, too. Cardio really helps your stamina, which is important in the ring. If you don’t have the gas tank, you’ll lose. I started training six weeks before the show, and spent a lot of time working on my standup [striking] and my wrestling.

M: What was your biggest goal on the show, besides winning the competition?

MA: Basically, just to become a well rounded fighter, and get publicity. If I can make it to the UFC (“Ultimate Fighting Championship”), than I’m on top. And if I don’t make a fool of myself, that’s all the better.

M: How was the training regimen different on the show than how you normally train?

MA: While the style was different from what I was normally used to, I try to push myself, so it wasn’t more intense. They had to compensate for the people who came to the show out of shape, but towards the end it got really intense. This was a world-class training center; we had world-class coaches… It was great. We had no responsibilities but training.

M: What kind of dietary restrictions and training do you have to stick to, to keep in shape?

MA: It depends [on the time period]. I usually start my diet about two-and a half months before my match. No fast food, lean meats like chicken, lots of fruits and veggies, and lots of water- over a gallon a day, up to the week before, when I drink 2 gallons a day. I stick to good carbs.

In MMA you have to know everything, and be really good at one thing. There are three basic areas in MMA: Submissions, Standup (striking), and Wrestling. I’m a specialist at Jiu Jitsu. My workout routine is split up twice a day: In the morning, I do cardio, and at night I work on technique and sparring. I work out 5-6 days a week, giving my body one or two days of rest and recovery.

M: I noticed your biography said you were a “self-confessed computer nerd”. Do you play lots of computer and video games?

MA: Not really. My big addictions are Myspace and Facebook. I have to check them almost every minute. That was a real big challenge for me, being in the house without the ability to check them.

M: So, why did you choose to come to UT? Also, what can you tell us about your time at UT?

MA: Being from upstate New York, I started to play baseball in high school, and thought that was what I wanted to do for a career. I knew I wanted to go to school in Florida, and schools that had baseball teams, specifically Division II, and I looked for smaller schools. Essentially, I chose it for the weather, size, and baseball.

M: Where did your interest in MMA come from, and what made you decide to switch from baseball to Mixed-Martial Arts?

MA: Well, I quickly realized that baseball was not something I could make a career out of, so I needed something to do with my spare time. I then found a Brazillian Jiu Jitsu dojo run by Rob Kahn of the Gracie Academy [in 2003]. Brazillian Jiu Jitsu is the art of grappling and submissions, and Rob thought that I would do well in MMA. So, after three or four years of training, I had my first match on Sept. 23, 2006.

M: Alright. Well, thank you again for your time, and I’m sure we’ll all be looking forward to seeing you on Spike!

MA: No problem. We’ll see what happens!

You can see Matt Arroyo on the new season of “The Ultimate Fighter” on Spike TV (Channel 43 on campus, and for those who have Brighthouse Cable TV who live in the Tampa Bay area) every Wednesday at 10 p.m., except for the premiere Sept. 19, at 11 p.m.

Arroyo’s Audition Tape for The Ultimate Fighter

Here are some facts about the UFC.

What is the UFC?

UFC- Ultimate Fighter Championships

A combat based sport organization featuring world class fighters disciplined in various mixed martial arts ( MMA). These athletes participate in a designated weight class and use their skills to eventually be crowned the world champion in their weight class.

Rules for the MMA and UFC

Approved gloves (4-6 oz) and approved fighting shorts are allowed Proper weight must be obtained for official weigh in before fight Mandatory drug testing No head butting, elbow strikes, or kicking on a downed opponent No spinal strikes or strikes to the back of the head No groin or throat strikes

Non championship fights consist of 3 rounds Championship rounds consist of 5 rounds All rounds are five minutes with a one minute break between rounds

Winning can be done in various ways

Submission- Physical of Verbal tap out TKO- technical knockout , referee stops the fight Decision by score cards- unanimous, split decision, or majority decision A Draw Disqualification Forfeit

The UFC in Two Lights

Negative- There are those among the general public that deem the UFC and programming like it threatening and downright unnecessary in the violence it portrays especially to a young male audience. In the beginning media didn’t give the UFC much attention thinking it would be a short lived phase in sport. With the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) under constant scrutiny for it’s violent, often disrespectful shows, the UFC was first thought of as no different, just another brutal fight show. This one however was real.

Positive- Despite these early odds, the UFC proved itself by providing real action sport delivered by well trained, extremely disciplined athletes. Unlike the WWE, the UFC showcases actual skilled fighters trained for real combat, which is apparent in the contests. Fighters must be interdisciplinary which requires hours of training and studying. The UFC is not predisposed, much like a football game. The same thrill of not knowing the outcome comes from a UFC match just as it does a college ball game. In many cases its caters to
a similar audience. To appreciate and not become offended by the UFC and its mission of bring action combat to the mainstream of sport entertainment, one has to respect the work the athletes put into training and their sacrifices for obtaining glory.

Brief History of the UFC

Started in 1993 in the US, the UFC was brought over to the states with the intent to find the Ultimate Fighter from all disciplines .

Japan, Brazil, and other countries caught onto the exciting combat sport craze and now contribute many of the big name fighters in the UCF today.

The UFC now sells 12-14 live pay-per-views annually and boasts a exponentially growing fan base (especially in males 18-34) thanks to the hit reality show The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV.

The UFC patented the famous Octagon, the eight sided fighting floor which is unique to any sport arena in 1993, and UFC management dedicates much effort and funding to the safety of its fighters. To this day there have been no serious injuries as a result of this sport.

Prestigious regulation commissions including that of California, New Jersey, Nevada, Florida, and Pennsylvania allow the UFC to prosper safely.

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