Lee Synkowski -- Baltimore's next MMA star?
Over the last year I've chronicled the rise of Baltimore's lightweight MMA star Binky Jones here at Baltimoresun.com. Well, after the The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 7 tryouts held in New Jersey on Monday, it now appears that Charm City is close to having a second MMA star.
Lee Synkowski, the instructor at Baltimore BJJ in Parkville, attended the tryouts yesterday (geared toward the middleweight division) and has informed me that he made it all the way through the interview round, which is the third round of the process. (As a matter of full disclosure, I took a few BJJ classes with Synkowski in the summer of 2006 before I began writing for the Sun.)
I asked Synkowski some questions about his trip and what it was like trying out for TUF 7. Here are highlights from that e-mail conversation:
What were the tryouts like?
149 people showed up. They broke us into groups of 50, and we went into a room with Dana White and the show's producers seated at a large table like American Idol. From there, they called us up in pairs and had us grapple from the knees, looking for submission or position. I had the fastest submissions in our group, so I think I stood out there.
How did you find out you made it to the interview round?
The interview round was the third round, and occurred after the second round, which was striking mitts, again in front of Dana and the producers. About 60 made it to the striking round and 32 made it to the interview round.
When will you finally know if you've made the show?
Well, they said they would call us if we did, I think by December. After that you go to Vegas for some other tests and they make the final cut.
When does the show start filming?
I have heard it starts in January, although I don't know for sure
What would making TUF 7 mean for you and your MMA career?
It would be excellent exposure for myself and my school. It would be a chance to train with world class coaches and learn more than I've ever learned. It would get my MMA career rolling, because I have been mainly focused on grappling and jiu-jitsu as of late.
I confirmed with Spike TV that there are no other tryouts being held for TUF 7 so Synkowski is indeed one of the last men standing. In early December, according to Spike TV, the next cut will be made and those fighters that move on will be brought out to Vegas for the next round of interviews. And, in mid-December, the final 16-member cast will be chosen for the show after background checks and physicals.