The second welterweight finalist will be decided tonight, as Team Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier locks horns with Australian Richard Walsh to earn a crack at Chad Laprise and a six-figure UFC contract.
Tonight’s episode leads off with the coaches’ challenge, and it is one of the show’s more inventive competitions to date. Patrick Cote and Kyle Noke will compete for the inaugural and imaginary French-Canadian Lumberjack Moose Cup by participating in three events: the ax throw, the crossbow marksmanship duel and the old-timey hand-saw sprint. Additionally, a fat $20,000 in American cash is on the line.
Noke can’t find his mark during the ax throw, which Cote wins after burying the blade into the target on his third and final try, prompting Team Canada to erupt like the Habs just won the Stanley Cup. In the crossbow competition, both coaches graze a hanging apple with their second shot, but Noke pulls a Robin Hood with his final attempt, piercing the center of the fleshy fruit.
With the score tied 1-1, the coaches will now take hold of the long, spiny-toothed hand-saw. Noke cuts through the designated log in 49.33 seconds, but “The Predator” does him one better, making his last stroke at 41.87 and winning the $20,000 that some pretty girl has been holding this entire time. After she hands Cote the dough, the fighters feast on spit-roasted moose, bear, bison and deer.
Back in the gym, Team Australia assistant coach Izzy Martinez brings in guest coach David Silva, a two-fight pro and NCAA Division III All-American wrestler. Silva takes the men through a grueling workout that focuses on their wrestling and conditioning. Walsh has no intention of going to the ground with Aubin-Mercier, and he trains to circle away from the Canadian’s power hand.
On the other side, Aubin-Mercier pushes aside comparisons to Georges St. Pierre and asserts that if he could match half of St. Pierre’s accomplishments that he would feel proud of his career.
Meanwhile, some of the Canadians have taken the liberty of defacing the identification pictures in the Team Australia locker room. The Aussies discover the juvenile vandalism after practice, and they take it more seriously than anyone ever should. Brendan O’Reilly responds by decapitating and eviscerating Team Canada’s stuffed moose.
Back in the real world, Walsh works on escaping back control in case he ends up in a worst-case scenario with Aubin-Mercier, whose ground game is top-notch. Mentor and training partner Nordine Taleb lauds the young buck’s skills and does his best to emulate Walsh in Aubin-Mercier’s final sparring session.
Aubin-Mercier checks in at 169 pounds, while Walsh tips the scales at 171. The welterweights make their final preparations and then step into the Octagon, trading low kicks before Walsh sticks his younger foe with a stiff right straight. Walsh controls the distance well and finds a home for the right twice more, but he eats a pair of hard body kicks in return. Aubin-Mercier connects with a right uppercut and left hook before hitting a takedown against the cage. Though Walsh pops back to his feet, Aubin-Mercier grabs a rear waist lock and then secures over-under control as he drags the Aussie to the mat. From there, the result is academic, as the southpaw sinks his hooks and secures a fight-ending rear-naked choke.
With his victory, Aubin-Mercier now joins countryman Laprise in the welterweight final. Meanwhile, Walsh is understandably broken up about his defeat. He heads to the shower and comes back clean-shaven, his massive beard left behind in the washroom.
Next week, the fighters receive a house call from St. Pierre, and Team Australia’s final hope, Vik Grujic, battles Sheldon Westcott for a spot opposite Elias Theodorou in the middleweight final.