Abe Wagner's Ultimate Fighter Blog: My Wrestling Needed Work

Abe Wagner's Ultimate Fighter Blog: My Wrestling Needed Work



Following each episode of The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights, Team Rampage member Abe Wagner will share his thoughts on what happened on camera and behind the scenes.

Hello, my name is Abe Wagner and I’ll be doing a weekly blog here at Fightmagazine.com. I fight out of Omaha, Neb. and have a professional record of 7-2.

Obviously I was involved a lot in today’s episode. I’ll try to go in order of the episode, though I’m sure you’re dying to hear what I have to say about the fight at the end of it. But all in due time.

To start out, they showed the coaches jawing with each other, and all I can say here is that they truly seemed to dislike each other and that part of the show will only get better from here on out. A lot of funny stuff is about to happen as it relates to their rivalry.

When we all got to the training center, it was a lot like the first day of school. Some people you know, some you’ve never seen before in your life and everyone trying to figure out where everyone else fits in. Dana White lined us all up. At this point, me being the mathematician that I am, couldn’t help but notice that there was an odd number of us and something was missing. Sure enough, there was a surprise fighter: Kimbo MF’ing Slice. Most of what I knew of him was from youtube like everyone else, so I was curious to see what he was all about.

Then there were the evaluations, each set of coaches got an hour with us to evaluate us. They each had drastically different methods of evaluation. Team Rashad’s evals consisted of grappling and hitting bags, whereas Team Rampage’s consisted of more sparring type drills.

Now on to the interesting stuff; I was Rampage’s second pick overall after evaluations. Right after our team was formed, Rampage asked who wanted to fight right away, and me and one or two other guys raised their hands. Nothing really further was decided at that time, but about a half hour before the first fight announcement (and incidentally before we even had our first team practice) he approached me and told me he wanted me to fight first. I told him I was game and asked who he had in mind.

He told me John Madsen. I told him that while my stand up was good and my jiu jitsu was decent, my wrestling needed work and sometimes I’ll have trouble with a good wrestler. He told me he thought Madsen was only an average wrestler and not to worry about it. It turns out he’s a two-time national champion wrestler and that’s possibly the understatement of the year for me. I still didn’t think it was a good match up for me, but at some point, you just have to say that you’re there to fight and fight whoever is chosen for you. I just didn’t get why if we had control, he wouldn’t have picked someone I matched up better with. I didn’t think it was a very good strategic move for me or Team Rampage.

On to the fight: First off, any one that knows me or has been involved with me in organized athletics knows that I throw up before every competition. This goes all the way back to high school and through college, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary for me there. I had the foresight to warn Rampage in advance, otherwise who knows what he’d have done.

Round 1: We both came out and touched gloves (something I’d later regret in round 2) and after a bit of feeling out, Madsen shoots and takes me down. I felt like everything was going pretty ok for me at this point. I started working my legs up in high guard to start looking for a submission. But I was kind of wedged up against the cage and it made it hard for my hips to be as mobile as I would have liked. Also I was against his corner, so it was very hard for me to hear my corner because his coaches were so loud. At some point he caught me with an elbow that made a pretty bad cut. At this time, I didn’t really feel it, but I did feel the blood running down my forehead. Then I looked over and saw a puddle of my own blood. All I really thought at this point was “Great, that’s happening.” It didn’t really affect me mentally. We spent the whole round in his corner, him on top. In the final seconds I was able to hit a scissors sweep, but frustratingly, it was too late to do anything with it.

Round 2 began with us touching gloves and him immediately shooting upon doing so. I know, I know, “protect yourself at all times”…but in all, I think it was a bit of a shady move. At this point, we’re both too covered in sweat and blood for any jiu jitsu to be effective. I kept trying to work my legs up or control his arms, but things were just too slippery. I was overall unable to stop his take downs and that’s what lost me the fight. He controlled me on the ground without much recourse on my part and I lost a decision.

I guess one of the main reasons I fight is self-exploration. And what I learned about myself from this fight is that even when I find myself in a bad situation, quitting is not in me. The whole fight I kept trying to find something that’d work even though I wasn’t having much success with it. Also, I think a lot of fighters wouldn’t have come out for the second round.

The most disappointing thing for me was that I didn’t really get to show anything that I’m capable of or any of the skills I have. I wouldn’t have minded losing as much if I had at least fought well in doing so. Hopefully, this one fight is not all that the world gets to see of me and what I can do, and I will make the most of future opportunities to show my skills.

Some things about the experience of fighting on The Ultimate Fighter:

You fight in the middle of the afternoon, in the place you train every day, in front of 20-30 people, against a guy that you live with. It honestly didn’t feel that much like a real fight to me, more like a sparring session. My training partners and coaches can tell you I’m nothing special on a Tuesday afternoon, but when it’s Saturday in the arena, that’s when the best comes out of me. For whatever reason, I just didn’t feel “up” for the fight. It just felt more like the excitement level of a sparring session rather than a fight.

I’m not going to make excuses for my performance, I knew that my wrestling needed work coming into the competition, so the fight didn’t really illuminate anything for me there. But it did add a sense of urgency to learning it, and I’ve been working diligently on that aspect of my game since then to become a more well-rounded fighter.

That’s my take on the first episode of the season. Trust me, there’s still plenty more show to watch and a lot can (and did) happen in the next 11 episodes.

For more on me, check out www.abewagnerfights.com.

Read the recap of the first episode of The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweights.

Read Matt Mitrione’s TUF blog.



  1. Go Back to Your Day Job … use your brain just a little bit move back side to side. Everyone knew what he was gonna do. and you just complied. MMA is not for you

    • Easy, there. If Abe didn’t want it he could have quit. You can criticize several elements of his performance but the dude was game.

  2. I’m not gonna act tough behind a laptop and not give him credit for going and competing … but after a few minute it was very clear that you didn’t try to get up. I knw you tried to get up but I can’t explain in words … you needed to get mad find some other force inside of you to change the position you were in.

    The Ref Made you guys stand up a few times in round 2 that was probably what was most dissipointing.

    Good Luck to you, with a lttle more training you can make it back. and become a better fighter and make it to the top. Physically you have the tools so yeah good luck

  3. Hey Bigdawg thank for insight dont really get to see it much here in Australia. To bad about the match up but live and learn aye.. least you didnt go out like a bitch u could have kept ur hand down……….. all the best bud looks like a great series

  4. as a cuming up fighter myself I give abe all the credit. I have seen him fight a couple times before and he kicked ass. He earned his spot in TUF.

    He did not quit and he is right a lot of people would have. And that’s what it takes to be a fighter not to quit and have a heart. That other guy should have had a little more sportsmanship in the second round.

    Good luck abe hope to see you in their again. Glad to see omaha is on the map we are hitting it big now!

  5. You need to seriously work on your sprawl defense and sweeps, push off of his hips, if your against the cage try to use it as leverage to get up. hope you learn before your next fight cause theyre just gonna fake the punch and shoot.

  6. “For whatever reason, I just didn’t feel “up” for the fight. It just felt more like the excitement level of a sparring session rather than a fight.”

    Most fighters don’t blow chunks before a sparring session.

  7. Thank you for your blog Abe. I will follow it every week after TUF on Spike TV.

    Your analysis of the fight was spot on. I was hoping you would sweep or try a triangle choke in round one but John did have you pinned against the cage so I’m sure that inhibited your ability to complete any moves.

    That was a deep, nasty cut (I cringed when, after the fight, the doctor said he could see your skull bone) that caused several of the fighters in the audience to speculate you would not come out for round two, but you showed great courage and proved them wrong.

    The next time you fight a wrestler who shoots in like clockwork remember the Sprawl and the Flying Knee!

  8. I just re-watched the beginning of round 2, what a punk move. On the other hand Madsen took you down easily when you were ready, so it probably didn’t make a difference. Still, it was pretty lame. BTW you gotta do something about that puking, Abe. Do some meditation or something instead. People don’t puke unless they’re a bundle of nerves, and a bundle of nerves is not a good state to be in for a fight.

  9. Jon madsen was really cheap. He has nothing except done wrestling skills. He was scared to stand and really f-ing disrespectful with the touching of gloves in second round.

  10. Good luck with the UF Abe you can achieve whatever you want to! The more experience, the better you will get…you know that, and your just getting started. You will only get better! You can do it..!

  11. I can’t believe that Mazzagatti didn’t take a look at that gash in the second round… I’m totally dumbfounded that he let you keep fighting when you can clearly see skull. I mean, all he had to do was pause the fight and have a doctor take another look at it… As much as I respect Abe’s heart, I don’t think Mazzagatti did his job, as fighting with deep wounds like that can jeopardize careers…

  12. ive seen you fight a few times, all which were fights that were fun to watch, straight up k-o’s and brawls, to having Sherman Pendergarst lay on you the whole time in the corner at victory, i think that madsen was a chump for not touching gloves, that always pisses me off. but all in all you hit it on head, your wrestling needs help, work on that sprawl and cant wait to see ya in the cage again…

  13. TUF is their for mma not wresltling that guy was just scared. abe can fight and he knew he would get his ass kicked!

  14. ^^Derrick….Now you know as well as I do that MIXED martial arts allows for a mixture of martial arts to be used–in conjunction with, or separate from–each individual art that is allowed in the sport. This includes wrestling. And Madsen clearly used his wrestling skills to essentially kick Abe’s ass. No doubt that Abe is a capable fighter and worthy of respect in every way, but he lost, plain and simple to a fighter that knew what he wanted to do, and did it.

  15. Pathetic excuse for a fighter. It looked like he REALLY wanted a triangle in the first round, the just started trying to keep a closed guard without doing anything else. Second round, no sprawl AT ALL when he gets taken down then he just keeps trying to close guard. This was one of the most boring fights ever; maybe he was afraid of his blood.

  16. im a fighter too man, and i know its a nerve racking thing to grasp ahold of when your gonna fight but dude, get it together, your standup looked great in the training time, you knew what he was gonna do and you let him, you loss because you didnt try enough, you have all the aspects to be a great fighter but you just need to think during a fight and if you see someone shoot in like that…SPRAWL!!!!!

    Good luck in the future man from one fighter to another

  17. Seems odd that Rampage would match you guys up. He must not have taken much time to weigh out the talent each team has and what they are good at.

  18. Get your head together, man. Obviously you need to work on your wrestling, and you know that, but that alone didn’t lose you the fight. You fished it up on the bottom. You may have felt like you were trying stuff, but if you go back and watch the fight you’ll see that it translated to *very* little real-world activity. And you made almost no effort to counter his shots, even late in the second round when it was so obvious what he was going to do. You threw one half-hearted knee in an effort to catch him coming in, but you didn’t really commit it. I was really hoping to see you try a James Irvin-style flying-knee, at least *try* to make him pay a price for taking such massively telegraphed shots.

    I’m sorry to sound like a ****. I was honestly pulling for you, and I was just sorry to see that you kind of fell apart in there. I don’t believe for a moment that it was a failure of ability; I think you just weren’t there mentally in this fight. Good luck in the future.

  19. Regardless of what anyone says, I think you were a tough fighter. Anyone in that pool of blood would have given up. I literally had to turn around and stop watching in round 2 because I couldn’t believe no one was stopping the fight with all the blood that was visibly gushing from your head. I kept yelling at my boyfriend, “Isn’t anyone going to stop the fight?!” I just think you were not in the right state of mind at the moment to come back with full force and fight back. Next time I think you will be much better. If this is really what you want to do, go for it, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Good luck and hope to see you make a comeback soon!

  20. Wagner I recently got to know you from a few interviews in YouTube and I must say I truly respect you. You had a rough childhood and still managed to stay strong and are a great fighter. I was expecting more and you were one of my favourite picks in TUF 10, but you can’t be blamed for this bad start. I believe Rampage is more of a clown than a coach. Even I, as a simple viewer, thought it was strange for him to set you up against an excellent wrestler with good ground-work. It was a bad match-up, but I’ll say keep working and it will pay off in the end. I am sure you will get another chance in the UFC if you keep going.

  21. “Rampage = clown not coach” – you got it. He’s fun to watch on tv, but I’d hate to be on his team. I cringed when he said “Well he (Abe) is a weak wrestler, but he’s got ju-jitsu. If you got ju-jitsu it’s OK”. Uhhh, did I just step into a time-warp back to 2003? Ju-jitsu hasn’t been a suitable substitute for wrestling in years! You have to be a top-notch ju-jitsu guy to get anywhere in MMA these days. Oh sure, you can submit people in local shows, but once it’s time for the big leagues, unless you’re Demian Maia or Nate Diaz, your ju-jitsu is going to be a hinderence as you try to pull off moves while getting punched in the face. Even Vinny Margalaes’ ju-jitsu didn’t take him past Bader a couple seasons ago. BJJ is cool, but it is old news. Wrestling and striking is where it’s at now. BJJ is something you should have in your arsenal for those infrequent times when unique openings pop up. It’s pathetic to watch guys try to do BJJ when there are no openings and they’re getting ground&pounded.

    And what was with Darrill Schoonover being picked second to last? Rampage’s ‘titty’ comments aside, did neither Rampage nor Rashad Google any of these guys before going to pick? Shoonover has a 10-0 record, who gives a crap about his tits and glasses?? Rashad is just lucky Rampage is a moron, otherwise he’d be looking like the fool.

  22. First off, Rampage is a retard for picking you to go up against the other teams best wrestler. Then to act like it was your fault and storm off. I couldn’t believe what a poor strategic move that was.

    Second, I was surprised you didn’t quit – that showed heart.

    Third, Mech Eng. dude? CFO? Seriously? WTF you doing with these hoodlums? Go enjoy the fact that you don’t have to get beaten to a pulp for a living like they do.

  23. Didn’t Schoonover jump up from at least 205 in order to appear on this season of TUF? If so, you can’t really blame him for being a little flabby — and moving up to take on monsters like these takes balls! The guy deserves respect just for wanting it that bad.

  24. Okay…First of all, i don’t see how in the hell you ever got into MMA…Being a fighter myself, i damn sure ain’t about to let someone do the same f-ing move on me multiple times…If you knew before the fight that Jon was a wrestler, then you should have made a gameplan to avoid his takedowns…yea, i have a belt in BJJ, and Muay Thai, but i know that if someone is gonna shoot, then i’m gonna sprawl…I mean yea, you’ve had some pretty badass fights before TUF, but to already have the experience and show that kinda of performance, its just embrassing…

    But i do have to give you props on not quiting..you’ve got alot of heart, but to be honest with you man, go back to your regular job…MMA just doesn’t seem to be what you really want outta life….

  25. Hey guys here’s the reality of what happened here.
    There are two types of people in this world when it comes to the UFC or any fighting venue for that matter…people who have the will and aggression to fight and those who don’t…period!
    Abe is a great guy very likeable and way too easy going to be a serious UFC fighter, he could have all the skills in the world but if there’s really no fight in him he will loose every time to a fighter with pent up rage who is average at best. It takes a certain kind of crazy bastard to get in the ring and want to pound the bejesus out of another human being and honestly not many of us have it. Like two dogs in a cage it’s not neccesarily the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog which determines the outcome, Abe should stick to his day job….but I do like the guy.

  26. You Didn’t Want it…
    He is an awesome fighter and no one cares to hear your negative input. I feel bad for the person that has to fight him next. He is going to come back that much stronger from this experience. Go for it Abe… we all know what you are capable of that has seen you fight… anyone that wants to say something negative clearly hasn’t seen you fight before… you kick a**!!! I can’t wait for the next one!!!

  27. Rampage is a horrible coach, that match up was a disaster. Rampage gave as much thought about the match up as he gives to a hotdog. He has absolutely 0 strategy.

    All these talk about how Abe didn’t do a good job is complete baloney, try fighting with a 3 inch gash that opens into ur skull after being pushed down for 1 round and see how well u can cope in the next 2 rounds. Abe was doing good for the first round, but there arent that many ppl who won’t gas after losing so much blood, it’s easy to say, SPRAWL, DONT LET HIM TAKE YOU DOWN, like rampage, but unless its been trained for and driven into u, its not always easy to pull it off in the half a second time u get in a fight. Especially when u have a fountain of blood on ur forehead. I dont even understand how Mazzagati allowed the fight to continue with that gash.

    Rampage rocks as a fighter and an entertainer, but just what is he doing as a coach in TUF?

  28. Hey, at least Abe was a good enough prospect to get on the show and step in the cage. So what if he lost.

  29. That was pathetic, he never made any attempt to do anything, i dont even think he landed a shot, I am not going to say i am a great fighter, but i dont think i could have gotten my ass kicked any worse than Ab did

  30. Hey Abe, dont listen to all these bitches sayin mma isnt for you. I train and fight myself and i would like to see some of these people get in a ring and do what we do.

  31. Abe, thanks for doing the blog, Danny and me will look forward to reading these as the show progresses. Great attitude, on pushing forward and becoming better from this loss.
    By the way, I know your not listening to some of these losers, your smarter than that.

    Also to some of you making comments, about what you would have done, why don’t you post links to your fight against a two-time national champion next time, so we can see exactly what your talking about.

  32. Dude, Abe….. wow. I’m actually in shock that DANA didn’t stop the fight, you lost so much blood, you could have freakin bled out. Dude, when he pushed down on your neck and the blood was “fauceting” out of your head, not dripping, but a steady “pee”stream of blood? He was basically milking you. I’m surprised that noone here so far has commented on the medical fact that once you lose that much blood, your senses start to fade, and what you said about treating it as a sparring fight???? Dude imma tell you right now if dude left half of my blood supply on the floor i would have murdered his ass in the 2nd, no questions asked. Good luck man, good to see your still freakin alive. WOW!!!

  33. Abe I give you credit for getting in the ring. But it looked like you were cool with jst laying there on your back. I really hate that a guy can come in and lay on another guy with neither guy trying to get better position or going for submission. This is why sport needs guys like Kimbo guys that are willing to step into the fire not just lay there and man hug. I see all the comment on Abe dnt give up, give him credit, he will get better, its rampage’s fault, but if Kimbo were to lose he would not get the same benefit of the doubt. I can also promise you this jsut as people say he has no groud game only handful of wrestlers have stand up and are willing to get hit to deliver one of there own. ( You can learn to wrestle you cant learn heart or lack of fear to ingage)

  34. I hate reading the comments from these cowards that sit behind the computer and tell you that you suck. Abe, I’m sure you could waste any of those assholes.

    But seriously dude, I was rooting for you and I was disappointed you weren’t able to defend that take down. Work on that.. if/when you come back everyone will try the same thing again.

    I know you said you weren’t bothered mentally by the blood, but I don’t think that’s possible. I don’t squirm.. and that fight made me squirm. I think had you not been cut you would have been in a more positive state of mind and most likely wasted that douche bag. I have no respect for dishonorable punks like Madsen. I will revel in delight when I see him get his ass handed to him.

    Good luck, Abe. Don’t let any of these punks that wish they had an ounce of your heart and courage bring you down. You rock.

  35. Furthermore.. the ref or Dana should have stopped the fight. I think Dana White is an asshole for allowing that to continue. Dana sees $$ when he sees a man bleeding to death on the canvas. FUCK YOU DANA

  36. Besides the cut that obviously drained the blood, sense, and stamina from Abe.. that punk Madsen hardly did any damage.

  37. Abe nasty cut! We have the same LAST name LOL. But you could kick my butt lol. Get back in there and be the ultimate fighter!

  38. I agree with most of the above comments. First, I was cheering you on from the beginning to the end. However, I was cussing you as well. No excuses! If you have a weak area, train harder in it. I am totally surprised that the fight was stopped, even tho I was glad it didn’t because I wanted you to kick his butt. It’s amazing that this sport is continuing, it’s getting to be like a dogfight with the damage the elbows can do. And dogfighting is illegal.

  39. Abe, i’m a huge fan. My sister went to Michigan Tech with you her name is Emily Guenther. My dad played line backer at Michigan Tech like you did, and when you were in college, he helped save the football program they almost cancelled, as he is a member and donotor to Michigan Tech now. His Name is Fred Guenther. I’ve been watching and telling all my friends to watch the series and promoting you, bragging that my sister actually knows a guy who was on the ultimate fighter on rampages team. Sorry your fight didn’t go as well as you hoped, but being a huge mma fan i can tell you didn’t quit. Even if you don’t win the show you can still be a successful UFC fighter, andi hope they bring you back cause it’s nice to have fighters representing the midwest! If you actually read this and get a chance my email is matt_guenther@hotmail.com, i would love an autograph or even just a letter saying hi!

    You’ll be back bro.
    Matt Guenther

  40. No, seriously, Abe, the internet has spoken. Four out of five anonymous douchebags agree that you’re terrible because they saw you lose a two-round fight. Sorry, but you’re out of MMA forever.

    Tee, what on earth are you talking about? How is a superficial cut on a human fighter who comprehends everything that’s happening and is being monitored and treated by professional doctors (and has the option of quitting any time he feels he’s taking too much damage, without getting a bullet in the head for it after the fight) in any way analogous to dogfighting? Because you saw some blood?
    Get a grip. That’s one of the worst fighting cuts I’ve ever seen and it’s still just a superficial gash on the forehead. You could keep that clean and treat it with simple pressure and it would heal without doing any permanent damage, though the scar would make it unnecessary to part your hair for the rest of your life.

  41. Folks, it was a bad cut, and it drained a lot of blood for a head cut, but that’s not a life-threatening amount of blood at all. The doctor and EMT’s (actually in Vegas they’re probably Paramedics) at ringside had things under control. It LOOKS like a liter or two of blood, but it’s not. It may have affected his stamina and presence of mind, but then again, that’s not certain. I notice Abe doesn’t mention it.
    “Bad cut” is a relative term.

  42. Abe… a bunch of your former co-workers in Council Bluffs with AZCO were able to see your TV debut. We had all hoped it had gone better as I’m sure you feel the same. We’ll be waiting for your comeback. Best of luck to you.

  43. hey, im from omaha…abe can fight..one hit in the UFC can make you a great fighter…abe just took that hit…hes a great fighter… just wanted to say whats up to all of us NE,and IA fighters

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