“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.
It was impossible to hold back my smile at the fight pick. The joy of gaining control and shutting down the Canadians felt so fulfilling.
I guess it’s because now they got to feel what we did. The Canadians climbed down off that high horse, and as such, the atmosphere around the house changed. Nordine Taleb turned out to be one of the friendliest guys in the house. He even appeared to smile from time to time -- or was it wind? Nah, seriously, the Canadian gung-ho really died off, and they’re actually a good group of blokes.
Last week, Tyler Manawaroa showed true Aussie spirit in the sense that he fought to the very last bell. To be honest, my heart sunk when Nordine landed that takedown toward the end of round three, but Tyler’s iron will kicked in and he dug deep. Three very close rounds, respect to both those guys.
Nordine dropped the macho act, which was obviously a ploy to intimidate the Aussies. Well played, even though it didn’t work. He and Tyler had put away the animosity and seemed to be getting along. They even had a few drinks together, so maybe the Aussie is rubbing off on him.
It was fairly hectic in the house, so any free time we could muster was put to good use. Playing in the snow was usually on the agenda, whether it was day or night. It was cool to see Elias Theodorou break away from Team Canada and join our snowball fight -- and yes, he nailed all of us with that perfectly honed baseball arm, and he didn’t get a single hair out of place in the process. I don’t think his teammates were too impressed, but it seemed to break through even more of that tension.
With Tyler’s success and the first win for the Aussies, the pressure now moved to Richard Walsh to keep the momentum going -- and “Filthy Rich” did just that with a clear and concise victory over Canadian military general Matt DesRoches.
Richy is one of the more interesting fighters in the house. Apart from being a great fighter, he’s very intelligent, cultured and funny as hell! Matt keeps to himself a lot and, in my opinion, seems to be the most focused member of the Canadian team. He’s grounded and he knows why he’s here.
I was ready and raring to fight, but Coach Kyle has a game plan so I must wait.
Richy’s cut was standard with no issues making weight, and Matt’s was very similar. The weigh-in itself was uneventful. Both fighters were respectful and there was no animosity, which is how it should be. I could see that Filthy had hit a switch as the fight edged closer. He became more and more focused as the reality sunk in: he’ll be fighting in the UFC octagon.
Brendan and I really wanted to cheer Richy on and get him motivated, so we went MacGyver and turned a water jug into a fog horn. It seemed like a good idea.
In the first round, Richy moved forward, taking the center of the Octagon and shooting in for a single to press Matt against the cage. Both fighters worked hard in the clinch, throwing knees and short elbows. Matt backed out and decided to stand and exchange, but Richy’s hands were quicker and his strikes on-point. Rich landed the harder shots, with Matt clearly rocked on two occasions. It was a well-fought round by both guys.
Matt came out harder in round two, landing several strikes, but Richy regained his composure and pressed him into the cage. Matt defended several takedown attempts, but Richy’s relentless pressure landed the cleaner shots and sent Matt to the mat. The fight went the distance, with Richy clearly winning both rounds.
Well done to Matt, and much respect... but the dominant factors were Richy’s constant pressure and timing, keeping his opponent in defense mode for much of the fight.
Once again, we were stoked to have the victory and, once again, it gave us that boost of confidence that we needed. But, as Coach Kyle said, we can’t get cocky. The script can be flipped at any time.
I can’t wait for next week’s fight. Dan Kelly’s weigh-in face scares me. “Grizzly” is one of the guys that we’ve been hanging to see get in there and throw down. He’s tough as an old leather boot and no stranger to high-level competition.
Tune in to the next installment of “TUF Nations.” This is one not to be missed -- but be warned, the next episode may contain nudity!