Striking it big
by Blaine Meller
Call it the ultimate opportunity. For Calgarian Nick Ring, the chance to display his talents on the current season of The Ultimate Fighter is just that — an opportunity to showcase his abilities to the world’s largest mixed martial arts organization. Ring, 30, was one of 28 mixed martial artists initially selected to participate in The Ultimate Fighter season 11, a reality show where fighters battle for the chance to be signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championships, and receive a six-figure contract from the organization.
Ring, nicknamed “The Promise,” was quick to jump at the chance. “This is the biggest thing I have ever done in my martial arts career and I can’t overstate how much I appreciate getting this kind of opportunity,” Ring said in his blog on heavy.com. Ring’s tryout for the show consisted of three components: grappling, striking and an interview. He was told the interview would be the most important part of the tryout, but “had no idea what the criteria was going to be other than you need to be ‘interesting.”
“I sat down and did my interview which mainly consisted of them telling me I was stupid, calling me some names, and telling me I probably wasn’t any good anyway,” he said, adding he was then asked, in a not very polite manner, to leave.
“A few weeks later they called me back and said I made it. I was definitely surprised to have made it, but definitely happy.” In addition to teaching at BDB Martial Arts, Ring is a former intercontinental, North American and Canadian Muay Thai champion, a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and bronze medalist at the 2008 FILA Grappling World Championships. He holds a perfect mixed martial arts record of 10-0. He is the sixth Canadian fighter to appear on the show, following Jason Thacker, Rob MacDonald, Kalib Starnes, Patrick Cote and Krzysztof Soszynski.
When Ring arrived at the UFC training centre in Las Vegas, he and the other fighters were told they would have to do exactly that, fight their way onto the show. Ring would defeat American Woody Weatherby by technical knock-out less than three minutes into the opening round, earning his spot on the show.
“It was really quiet with just me and Woody staring each other down for an abnormally long time while the cameramen got all of their positions right. I just wanted to rock and roll, I don’t like to wait around and I like to get things moving fast so it felt like a really long time,” said Ring. After the qualification fights, the remaining fighters were divided into two teams. Each squad would be picked and coached by former UFC light-heavyweight champions and bitter rivals, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell. With the first overall pick, Ring was drafted to Ortiz’s “Team Punishment.”
“I had my eye on Nick already, and he pretty much picked Weatherby apart,” Ortiz is quoted as saying after the fight. “He didn’t make him look too good, and that’s when I knew that this kid right here has a chance of winning it.”
Because of confidentiality agreements, Ring cannot reveal specific details about fight selections and the results that have taken place since. He was, however, able to discuss working with Ortiz. “I found with Tito, he really sets his ego aside and he really, really tries to help you. He puts his coach hat on. He pulls out all the stops to do what he can for his guys.”
Although the date for the live finale had not been officially announced at the time of publication, it is expected to take place in June.