We are halfway through The Ultimate Fighter Nations and this week’s episode highlights some of the season’s best moments.
UFC matchmaker Joe Silva visits Sydney, Australia looking for eight fighters worthy of competing against Team Canada. Meanwhile, hundreds of hopefuls flock to Toronto looking for the same chance.
The chosen few first stop at TUF gym in Quebec. “Being able to walk into a gym that’s an official UFC. Very overwhelming, you know. Kind of feel like you’re a little fish in a big pond, so to speak,” Team Australia middleweight Vic Grujic said.
There, coaches Patrick Cote and Kyle Noke welcome the teams and flip a coin to see who gets first fight pick, as is tradition. Cote wins and says Kajan Johnson and Australian Brendan O’Reilly will compete in the inaugural bout. Johnson defeats O’Reilly via rear-naked choke and gives Team Canada a 1-0 advantage.
Zein Saliba gets a chance to even the season series when he faces Elias Theodorou. Unfortunately, Saliba can’t keep up with the Canadian and loses via unanimous decision. That night, the Australians confront their housemates about disparaging comments allegedly made; comments the Canadians deny.
Fight three is between Chad Laprise and Aussie Chris Indich. A close contest tilts in Laprise’s favor as Team Canada takes a commanding 3-0 lead. Indich loses the fight but gains respect from his countrymen. “My fight changed the house. I think coach Kyle even said to me that ‘you gained so much respect from everybody.’ It changed everyone’s view,” Indich said.
Following their night off at an NHL game, Cote pick Nordine Taleb to represent his team against Tyler Manawaroa. The young Australian shocks Taleb with a unanimous decision victory and give the Aussies their first victory. After the fight, both men head to the hospital where Taleb has his broken foot treated.
With his first fight pick, Noke selects Richard Walsh to face Matthew Desroches. The judges only need two round to decide that Walsh is the winner, giving Australia a second straight victory.
Next up, a match between Daniel Kelly and Sheldon Westcott. The Canadian’s smothering offense doesn’t give Kelly a chance to follow his game plan and he submits to a triangle arm choke. Kelly is told by a medical expert that he has a partially broken ligament that could sideline him up to 12 months.
The next day, Johnson is confronted over comments Team Australia overhead following Kelly’s loss. They believe he shouted “he’s done, he’s done” at the 36-year-old mixed martial artist, but Johnson denies it and says his words were misinterpreted.
Welterweights Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Jake Matthews are the next fighters chosen. Matthews starts quickly but loses to Aubin-Mercier via unanimous decision, guaranteeing Canada will have the advantage going into the semifinals.
Discouraged, Team Australia gets a much morale needed boost from UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Vic Grujic takes the momentum into his match with Luke Harris, knocking out the Canadian middleweight with vicious elbows.
The midseason recap ends with a preview of next week’s episode where Dana White video conferences with the advancing fighters to get their thought on potential matchups.
For weekly updates on TUF Nations visit Scifighting.com