“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 Aussies have now brought the tally back to 3-2, and with that a little bit of trash talk began with respect to the potential semifinal matchups.
Chad Laprise was calling Richard Walsh out, even to the point of preparing a contract, but Richy has his sights clearly set on Kajan Johnson. A Richy vs Kajan fight would pretty well ensure Richy a spot in the finale, but I don't think Kajan is too keen on throwing down with “Filthy Rich.”
Coaches Kyle [Noke] and Izzy [Martinez] are starting to push us all much harder, and in all fairness my little “belly ache” was more of a fairly severe case of food poisoning. I spent a lot of that session throwing up, but hey, you've gotta push yourself at this level. Izzy has a real way of instilling that drive and mental toughness in his fighters.
Later, we were treated to a night in: popcorn, beer, beaver tail, fairy floss and the opportunity to watch Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks. I think just about everyone in the house was rooting for GSP, Aussies and Canadians alike, which was good because at least for one night the rivalry was on hold -- just a bunch of blokes sitting around watching the UFC.
Daniel Kelly hit the weigh-in, and in typical “Grizzly” fashion, just stood there arms down and smiling. Sheldon Westcott tried to do the whole face off thing, but how could he? So he just smiled back.
Dan was really confident before the fight, and so were the rest of us. Sheldon was prepared for the battle ahead, not overly confident, and with the common realization that “this is it.” I think going in Dan had the psychological advantage thanks to his Olympic past. Everyone -- including the Canadians -- knows he's just a tough S.O.B., so it seemed we had this won on paper. Prior to the fight, the Canadians were looking nervous and the Aussies were looking confident; the outcome was almost a foregone conclusion.
And then it was fight time. Both these guys came out looking serious and focused. There was No Touch of gloves, and Sheldon led with a jab to push Dan back, threw an awkward kick and kept moving forward. He engaged Dan in the clinch and threw a series of uppercuts followed by another awkward kick. After more clinching, Sheldon managed double underhooks, with both fighters falling to the ground.
Sheldon was then able to land a suplex. Dan got to his knees and again Sheldon threw him, hung on like a koala and managed to take Dan's back while sinking in one hook. Both fighters stood again with Sheldon still maintaining back control, but Dan took it back to the mat with a judo throw. Sheldon then rolled Dan over and sunk in an arm triangle, finishing the fight by submission.
What the hell just happened?
Sheldon had no real defined strength and looked nervous, while Dan had such a strong resume. Take nothing away from Sheldon, he's a beast , but I can’t grasp what just happened.
Dan's fight was heartbreaking to watch -- knowing why he is fighting and seeing him go down like that was hard to watch for the whole team. Dan is a guy who fights with a motivation that can’t be found or built: It’s his family, and the burdens he carries make him a great man, regardless of the outcome. He’s a man that should inspire others.
What really bothered me was Elias Theodorou and Kajan mouthing off afterward. Once the fight is done there isn't any need to continue with the trash talk. Elias is a good guy and doesn't mean anything by it, but Kajan is just that type of guy. It’s what he does.
In all honesty, given the Canadian dynamic, I think Chad would be just as happy to take Kajan out as Richy would be.
So here we are, and it's about time that I finally get to throw down. Even though I was ready from the start, being last has its advantages in the sense that I've had a good three weeks of training with some of the best coaches. The staredown with Olivier Aubin Mercier was awesome. I'm fit, focused and ready to go. This fight has a lot of hype behind it. Team Canada coach Patrick Cote even said it could potentially be fight of the season.
Be sure to tune in next week to see how I perform. Cheers guys and thanks for all the support -- see you inside the Octagon.