‘TUF Nations: Canada vs. Australia’ Recap: Episode 2

By Mike Whitman Jan 22, 2014
Canadian coach Patrick Cote selects Elias Theodorou to face Australian talent Zein Saliba in this week’s middleweight clash.

Following Kajan Johnson’s victory over Brendan O'Reilly, Team Australia returns to the fighter house and congratulates “Ragin.’” Some members of Team Canada are suspicious of this friendliness, including Nordine Taleb, who calls a team meeting after he notices Theodorou discussing his martial arts background and fight record with several Aussies in the hot tub. Taleb tightens the screws on his teammates and expresses his worry that the Australians will pump them for information under the guise of friendship, and everyone agrees to keep such info under wraps.

During Team Canada’s training session, Cote brings in former Shooto titlist and three-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Vitor Ribeiro. “Shaolin” puts the fighters through their paces, and Theodorou expresses his excitement at learning from his teammates, each of whom possess unique strengths.

Back at the house, tension builds between the Aussies and Canadians due to a perceived lack of tidiness on the Australian side.

Saliba steps on the scale and is pleased to find that he is on weight. He later admits in a confessional to knowing basically nothing about Theodorou except that he has a large jaw and loves to talk -- characteristics that have earned Theodorou the nickname “Buzz Lightyear” within the Aussie camp. In addition to his fighting career, Theodorou has modeled, acted and performed stunt work. He also once charged someone $500 for a date, according to his chyron description.

Both Theodorou and Saliba check in at 184 pounds ahead of their matchup. That night, Cote and the Canadian coaching staff stop by the fighter house for some dinner, and “The Predator” introduces the squad to his nutritionist.

Later, the Team Australia locker room is filled by cheers for Daniel Kelly, who just turned 36. Coach Kyle Noke buys his fighter a cake, and Kelly blows out the candles in front of his homies. Everybody grabs a fork and starts devouring the delicious sugar loaf. Afterward, Noke has a bit of fun at Kelly’s expense and smashes the half-eaten cake into his mug. This prompts Kelly to look for revenge, and a brief food fight breaks out.

Meanwhile, Saliba makes his final fight preparations, which consist mostly of visualization techniques. The Aussie describes himself as an opportunist in the cage, meaning he will not enter the fight with a set game plan but instead try to take advantage of whatever openings his opponent presents.

Assistant coaches Adrian Pang and Israel Martinez take the rest of Team Australia through some hard training, beginning with live sparring and then transitioning into intense cardio. Martinez and Noke both compliment the team on their dedication and express optimism about their chances moving forward.

Theodorou and Saliba are now in the cage, and the unbeaten Canadian takes charge with a low kick and a stiff jab before bulling his man into the fence. The men trade knees from the over-under clinch, and the Australian deftly slips an elbow, sliding behind his foe to grab a rear waist lock. Theodorou escapes the position, however, and is now hunting for a single-leg takedown. After defending the try, Saliba eats a knee to the face but returns fire with a nice right hand. Theodorou finally scores the takedown he has been searching for and lands in side control, but Saliba does well to recover his vertical base. The Canadian lands a nice knee to the ribs and an elbow to the temple before picking up the Aussie and slamming him to the mat. Saliba stands again, but he is once more planted on his back to end the first frame.

Saliba whiffs on a Superman punch to start the second stanza, prompting Theodorou to clinch and deliver another slam. The Canadian pounds away to the body and head and then passes the Aussie’s right leg to land in side control. Saliba bucks onto his stomach and tries to stand, but his stronger foe snaps him back down with a front headlock. Saliba manages to pop up briefly, but Cote’s fighter takes him right back down, this time mounting him. Theodorou loses the position, however, and Saliba tries to dive on an armbar from back control. The last-ditch attempt proves fruitless, and Theodorou is declared the victor by unanimous decision.

With Theodorou’s victory, Cote keeps control of the fight pick, and Team Canada’s Chad Laprise will face Team Australia’s Chris Indich in a welterweight showdown next week.

"The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

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