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n in the first quarter while turning the ba

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Randa Markos remembers the moment she was finally free of The Ultimate Fighter house. For six weeks, the Iraqi-Canadian was cut off from her loved ones, as she was locked up in the Las Vegas home with 15 other womens strawweight fighters and given no free access to the outside world. As a result, life during that time consisted of little more than training, eating and sleeping — not to mention the occasional bit of drama. As with previous seasons of the popular reality series, Markos and her fellow cast members were denied any communication with their families and forced to surrender their phones. In the past, this kind of isolation has some driven some fighters to their breaking points. Its also yielded a few out-of-competition brawls, as well as damaged property. Markos knew exactly what she was getting herself into before entering the infamous house, but admitted it was still tough being cut off from her loved ones. I was mentally prepared for it, so I knew if it got really bad to just stay grounded, said Markos during an interview in downtown Toronto. As the weeks went on, I started to miss my family a lot. It wasnt so much that I was missing them, but I was just worried something might have happened. I wanted to make sure everything was OK with them. That really affected me, not being able to call my family, talk to them and see how they were doing. I got my phone back and was like, How do I use this thing? she laughed. It had been so long. Id never been that far away from my phone. I wanted to call out, but forgot how. First thing I did was call my husband and then I called my family. Markos will be featured on The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned, which premieres tonight. Over the course of the shows 20th season, the group of 16 athletes will be winnowed down to two finalists who will then battle for the inaugural UFC womens 115-pound title at the live finale at Las Vegass Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Fri., Dec. 12. The coaches, lightweight champ Anthony Pettis and challenger Gilbert Melendez are set to lock horns in the co-main event of UFC 181 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Dec. 6. Though being cooped up proved to be a tough, yet rewarding, experience for Markos, her absence was equally challenging for her loved ones. Markos husband, Jeff Thomas, said it was difficult not being able to see his wife on her birthday. After the first week, I was just like, I miss her and cant talk to her — especially with her birthday coming up. I cant even wish her happy birthday. This is crazy, said Thomas. Wed never been away from each other for that long in the longest time. It felt really different. I sort of knew it was her goal to get in. Shes always said, I want to see how far I can get before we have kids. I knew how bad she wants to have kids, so I knew shed do anything to get to where she wanted to be. When that opportunity came, it was just the next step for her. Of course, being separated from her family was only part of the challenge. Over the month and a half long filming schedule, TUF cast members can potentially fight as many as three times, provided they keep winning. This means they have to keep their weight constantly on point due to the short turnaround between bouts. Then there are potential personality clashes with other athletes. To make matters worse, theres no real privacy to speak of, as everything is committed to film. Markos said her time on the show made her both a better and tougher fighter, but admitted watching herself on television will be an awkward experience. You come out of there a lot stronger, said Markos. For anyone who went in there, youre coming out stronger mentally and physically. It was a great experience. So people made it hard, but it was still one of the greatest experiences. I dont know how Im going to come across to people. Whats done is done and I cant change it. So Im just going to sit there, watch it and hope for the best. There are a few things I said where I was like, Why did I say that? It sounds so stupid. The experience will no doubt be equally surreal for Thomas, who has to watch his wife compete against the top fighters in the world. Though he has faith in Markos skills, Thomas said he gets anxious before each of her fights. When it starts, Im nervous as all hell, Thomas said. I dont like seeing her get punched in the face. I dont like seeing her get hit — nothing like that — but I know her style. Once she gets to a certain point in the fight, I know its over and she won. Then I dont have to worry anymore. If she gets her (opponent) on the ground — and once I see that shes looking comfortable in there — its less stressful. But its never fun to watch her get punched in the face. For Markos, the hard part is done for now. With her stint in the house behind her, shes focused on improving her overall game. Though she learned a lot from her TUF coaches, she admitted shes still only scraped the surface of her potential. I dont think Im where I want to be right now, Markos said. I know I have a lot of improving to do and Im constantly wanting to learn every day. So they helped me out a lot with things I wasnt sure about. So I definitely came out of there with a huge amount of knowledge. Its the most important thing in my life right now, just having that opportunity and being able to show everyone that Im a Canadian and Im also from the Middle East. I like to show all the little girls that look up to me at my gym that you dont have to be like some other people are. Just be yourself and just be respectful. It means a lot to me that I can go out there and show people who I am as a person, not just as a fighter. 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Al Horford said all he had to do was make the catch near the basket and then shoot a soft jumper.Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 15 rebounds and the Portland Trail Blazers led for the final 28 minutes of the game in a 107-93 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. Wesley Matthews scored 23 and Damian Lillard had 17 points and eight assists for the Blazers, who bounced back from Fridays streak-stopping loss to Memphis to win for the 10th time in their last 11 games. Shabazz Muhammad scored a career-high 28 points off the bench to lead the Timberwolves, who fell to 2-9 in their last 11. Mo Williams added 21 points and 11 assists and Thad Young scored 14 in the loss. The Blazers led by 16 in the fourth quarter and fended off a mini rally by the Timberwolves, who pulled as close as seven. Lillard had a big play when he knocked down a straightaway 3-pointer after a Minnesota turnover despite being fouled, giving Portland an 11-point lead with 4:10 remaining. It didnt get closer than eight after that. It was a struggle for most of the night just kind of getting into a rhythm, said Portland coach Terry Stotts. When we were able to get some stops in the second and third quarter, that was important for us. Thats whenn were at our best, when we get some stops.dddddddddddd Im disappointed that they scored 32 in the fourth quarter. I would have liked to have a better defensive fourth quarter. ... But its hard to be too disappointed with a win. Williams scored 11 points and the Timberwolves led by as many as seven in the first quarter while turning the ball over just once. But the Blazers moved the ball well in the second and erased an eight-point hole with an extended 17-6 run keyed by two 3-pointers by Allen Crabbe that helped them take the lead for good with 3:50 remaining in the first half. They stretched the advantage to 48-40 at the break behind nine second-quarter assists and 16 points from Aldridge in the half. The Timberwolves were never closer than six in the third. Portland scored the last eight points of the quarter -- Aldridge had five of them -- to take a 75-61 lead into the fourth. Game Notes Portland has won four straight and 25 of the last 28 meetings between the teams ... The Blazers play in Denver on Tuesday ... The Timberwolves will finish a three-game road trip on Monday against the Clippers in LA. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Discount NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys 2019 Wholesale Jerseys China Wholesale Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys NFL Cheap ' ' '

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