“The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia” welterweight Jake Matthews (@JakeBJJMMA) will blog for Sherdog.com all season long, giving his thoughts, reactions and behind-the-scenes insights on the show. “The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia” (#TUFNations) airs each Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1 in North America, and Thursdays on FX at 4:30 p.m. AEDT (with a second airing at 10:30 p.m. AEDT) in Australia.
The sickening crack from the last knockout was still ringing throughout the house. We were all anticipating Kajan Johnson’s return so we could show him that he had our support. When he finally returned, we were all shocked with the extent of his injuries.
I can only imagine how Chad Laprise would be feeling. I don’t know what would have felt worse, the knockout or seeing his teammate return from the hospital like that. It must have been hard for Kajan to arrive back at the house knowing his own team had abandoned him for the most important fight of his life. I hope they felt the guilt they should have; after all, it wasn’t supposed to be Team Canada vs. Kajan.
On a lighter note, we will soon get to see the “Wild Thing” shut down “The Spartan” once and for all. Tyler Manawaroa vs. Elias Theodorou is your classic striker-versus-wrestler matchup, and if Tyler does what we all know he can do, then he will take the win. There isn’t any secret to what Elias will try to do -- he wants to wear down Tyler with wrestling and grind out a decision -- because if he tries to stand up with the “Wild Thing,” he’s going to sleep.
It was good to see Elias and Tyler keep up their friendly nature towards each other, even though they were only days out from their fight. I guess it’s due to their character; they both seem to like staying relaxed and not building up undue pressure on themselves prior to a fight.
It’s no wonder Tyler has trouble making weight. Fries, tater tots and cheese do not make for the best meal the day before the weigh-in, buddy. Thankfully, both fighters made weight. It was yet another entertaining weigh-in, and now we are in store for a cracker of a fight. Both fighters push the pace, both fighters have completely opposite styles and a spot in the finale is on the line. This fight has all the makings to be “Fight of the Season.”
Fight day arrives, and everything went as usual. Tyler was relaxed but quiet at the same time. You could tell he was ready in his mind. It’s always awesome seeing Tyler warm up on the pads; he fires right up and every punch shook the change room. I had two predictions on the fight: Tyler would knock out Elias in the early rounds or Elias would outwrestle Tyler and grind out a decision. Unfortunately for Team Australia, it was the latter.
It wasn’t a surprise that Elias came out shooting doubles. We all knew that’s what he was going to do, and Tyler knew it, too; he just didn’t react. Like Coach Kyle Noke said, he didn’t get out of first gear. You can’t expect to beat someone by matching their pace. You have to outwork them every second of the fight. It was not the most exciting of fights, considering Elias did exactly what we expected, but props to him on his conditioning. Cardio and wrestling were the stories of this fight. He kept calm and stuck to his game plan, which was to keep Tyler on the cage, take him down and tire him out.
By midway through the third round, I think everyone knew that Tyler wasn’t going to come back and win this one, but at least he kept fighting until the very last bell. No one was more upset with Tyler than Tyler himself. He knew he didn’t put in 100 percent, and he didn’t do everything he could to win the fight. That feeling is almost as bad as the loss itself. Tyler is super talented, and I’m almost certain that you’ll see him in the UFC again someday.
We only have two more fights left to get an Aussie in the finale, so we will be doing all we can to help out Richard Walsh and Vik Grujic with their fights. I’m confident that both boys can win their fights. Tune in next week for hard training good old Aussie humor and another semifinal matchup, as “Filthy Rich” meets Olivier Aubin-Mercier.