With Vic Grujic’s victory over Luke Harris in the final preliminary showdown, Team Australia sends three fighters into the semifinals while Team Canada takes five. Kajan Johnson is first in speaking with UFC President Dana White, a The Ultimate Fighter tradition where advancing fighters discuss who they would like to meet in the next round.
After all is said and done, coaches Patrick Cote and Kyle Noke announce the matchups:
Kajan Johnson vs. Chad Laprise – welterweight bout
Tyler Manawaroa vs. Elias Theodorou – middleweight bout
Richard Walsh vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier – welterweight bout
Sheldon Westcott vs. Vic Grujic – middleweight bout
Johnson and Laprise head to Team Canada’s locker room where they begin splitting coaching assignments. “You know what, we love both guys. They were teammates, they know each other pretty well but at the end of the day, it’s just business,” Cote said. Laprise reaches out to Team Australia Jiu Jitsu coach Robert Tussa, who agrees to help him train.
As he begins training, Johnson confesses that he lives in the ghetto and goes through period where there isn’t food to eat. “I sacrificed everything to get here,” Johnson said. “My dream are at stake, my life is at stake. Everything is at stake.”
Laprise said that, as a kid, he began fighting for all the wrong reasons. “I actually started doing martial arts when I was young but my parents had to take me out because I was too aggressive, get in fights all the time,” Laprise said. “I literally wanted to hurt people. That was the whole reason I started to train. I saw lot of things and my whole goal in life was to get revenge.” The Canadian fighter says that all his anger went away when he made peace with God.
At TUF house, Laprise seeks advice from Team Australia’s fighters. “Chad has been hanging out with us Aussies a lot more,” Jake Matthews said. “Now he’s fighting his teammate he’s starting to come around and seem more friendly with us. I believe that possible he wants us cheering for him to give him a morale boost and maybe bring Kajan down a little big.”
Both fighters enter the Octagon and the first TUF Nations semifinal match begins. They exchange jabs while utilizing a lot of footwork. Laprise lands a hard right as Johnson missed with a counter. Laprise advances with a left jab as Johnson shoots for a takedown which is immediately stuffed. The Canadians circle the ring, loosely throwing jabs. Johnson connects with an inside leg kick and goes for another failed takedown attempt. Johnson misses with a Superman punch and Laprise takes advantage with a combo to his abdomen. Laprise attempts a spinning backfist and is nearly taken down as the round ends.
Johnson just missed with a head kick but nails consecutive shot to Laprise’s legs. Showing signs of tiring, Johnson again attempts a Superman punch, but misses with a spinning wheel kick. Laprise catches Johnson’s right leg kick and counters with a still right hook. Johnson rears back with his right arm, leaving Laprise with an opening; Laprise catches Johnson with an overhand right square to the jaw and sends Johnson to his knees.
Laprise wins via knockout and moves on to the next round. An emotional Johnson tells Team Canada that his jaw may be broken. Aubin-Mercier says that Laprise always had an advantage because three coaches trained with him, a realization that’s not lost on Johnson.
“I only got one guy – Fabio. (Laprise) had a corner of two people screaming. So it was pretty s—-y for me,” a teary-eyed Johnson said. “It’s just another test.”
For weekly TUF Nations updates visit Scifighting.com.