“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.
Well, the Canadians had just dug their own grave. Nordine Taleb was given the pick, and he chose on emotion rather than strategy; their first mistake!
So, let’s recap the Canadian thought process. It was their pick, and they wrongly assumed that Tyler Manawaroa was young and inexperienced and had not fought anyone of worth in his young career. That was their second mistake.
Nordine also believed that, at 32, he had vastly more experience and superior training and facilities. It appeared as though he was trying to convince everyone that he could “get it done,” but strangely enough, I don’t think he believed it himself. I could see it in his eyes.
This fight was always going to be a battle of wills. Nordine was focused and, with all the talk, had put a lot of pressure on himself. Tyler, well, he was just Tyler: relaxed, cruisy and throwing snowballs. I think his perceived lack of concern was unnerving for the Canadians, but it’s just his way.
A lot like myself, Tyler has been considered the underdog due to his age, but Tyler is the most naturally gifted fighter I know and he has the humble nature that makes him the complete package. One thing I learnt about Tyler was that he looooves his food. The less healthy it is, the better he likes it. Because of that, his weight cut was pretty brutal, but all that time spent in the sauna was worth it just to see that weigh-in. These two guys really don’t like each other at all!
You’ve gotta love Chris Indich, calling out Nordine on his trash talk from the night before. What else could Nordine do but backpedal? It was awesome to see Chris and Chad Laprise getting along after their fight. At the end of the day, it’s a sport and we’re all mates in the end. I think that Aussie mate-ship confused the Canucks at the start, but they’re getting it now.
We don’t get much snow in Australia, so you can understand our excitement. At the first free moment, we were straight out the door, snowballs and all. The snowball fights were fun -- whether they were indoors or out. I don’t think Chad was too impressed, but oh well. It happened. I was surprised to see Tyler out in it though. You would’ve thought he would go into his own little world with the fight approaching, but he remained the same “Wild Thing” we’ve come to know and love.
So, I don’t think anyone can deny Tyler and Nordine the respect they deserve. They had the fight of the season so far, I think! There wasn’t a single bum on a chair during this fight. It was exactly as I pictured, a battle of wills from bell to bell, and from the first round to the last, Tyler just wanted it more. I believe Tyler had done enough to win the first two rounds, although it was very close to call. He did a good job of keeping out of Nordine’s range and evading his strikes. The takedown in round three was a worry, but Tyler reversed it and closed out the fight in a dominant style.
Stand aside, Canada -- this could be the sign of things to come. When Richy Walsh steps up against Matt DesRoches, we’ll see if the boys from Oz can keep the momentum rolling. We’re confident “Filthy Rich” will have Matt covered and bring the tally back.
With that said, I guess this means Olivier Aubin-Mercier has the pleasure of my company inside the Octagon. I’m excited to know who I’m fighting now and I can't wait to step up. Bring it, Oli! This is the turning of the tide, we can feel it in the air!
There was a definite morale boost amongst Team Aus after Chris’ fight, and now, with Tyler getting the win over Canada’s toughest man, I think the Canadians might just have found some humility. We’re here, so deal with us!
Tune into the next episode of “TUF: Nations” to see if Team Aus can go two-for-two -- and, as always, for some good Aussie humor!