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vis had 13 rebounds. The Azt
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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." Antonio Gates Womens Jersey . "Yeah, [I heard them]," he said. "They made me miss the free throw." A year ago, Lowrys post-game antics may not have been so well received but what was snide and snarky is now endearing quick wit. Antonio Gates Chargers Jersey . The Marlies centre set up three goals, including the game-winner, as Toronto cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Oklahoma City Barons in American Hockey League action. http://www.chargersauthenticofficialonli...ersey.html . The Boston Celtics hadnt played since the All-Star break. So the Suns 100-94 victory over Boston Wednesday night was an uphill affair, with Phoenix relying on balance rather than its trademark high energy. Keenan Allen Youth Jersey . The defending champions sent their preliminary list to FIFA on Tuesday, with coach Vicente del Bosque to announce the final 23-man squad on May 25. Costa is set to lead the attack in his native Brazil, with Atletico Madrid teammate David Villa and Chelseas Fernando Torres also included, while David de Gea replaces injured goalkeeper Victor Valdes. Lance Alworth Womens Jersey . The former Edmonton Oilers defenceman was with the St. Louis Blues in training camp on a professional tryout. Whitney, 30, had four goals and 13 points in 34 games with the Oilers last season.SAN DIEGO -- Xavier Thames scored 28 points and Winston Shepard keyed a 12-2 run for the No. 10 San Diego State Aztecs, who rallied to beat Fresno State 68-60 Wednesday night for their 14th straight win. The Aztecs (15-1, 4-0 Mountain West), who often looked ragged, won their 38th consecutive game against a team from California. On Monday, SDSU reached its highest AP ranking since it was No. 6 on March 14, 2011. Tyler Johnson had 24 points and 11 rebounds for Fresno State (8-10, 1-4), which lost for the fourth time in five games. SDSU won it at the line. Fresno State was whistled for 25 fouls and the Aztecs made 26 of 41 free throws. SDSU was called for only 14 fouls and Fresno State was 11 of 15 from the line. San Diego State had only four turnovers. The Aztecs 12-2 run started after Allen Huddleston hit a 3-pointer with 10:50 to go to give Fresno State a 46-44 lead. Matt Shrigley made the front end of a 1-and-1 and then hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give SDSU a 48-46 advantage. Thames added a 3 for a five-pointt lead before Johnson made a 17-foot jumper for the Bulldogs.dddddddddddd Shepard then took over with a spin move and a bank shot followed by a three-point play, after he was fouled on a goaltending call, for a 56-48 lead, SDSUs biggest. Shepard scored 17 points and Josh Davis had 13 rebounds. The Aztecs only scoring in the final 8 minutes was from the free throw line, where they made 13 of 17 free throws. Their last field goal came when Shepard was fouled on the goaltending call with 8:01 left. Fresno State led for most of the final 8 1/2 minutes of the first half thanks to a 27-13 run. Johnson hit consecutive 3-pointers early in the spurt and Huddleston also made a shot from behind the arc. SDSU bounced back behind Thames, who scored eight of his teams final 10 points in the half. Thames hit the first of two free throws, then had a three-point play and a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left that gave SDSU a 31-29 lead. Marvelle Harris made a 3 with 14 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 32-31 halftime edge. ' ' '
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