‘TUF Nations: Canada vs. Australia’ Recap: Episode 8

By Mike Whitman Mar 5, 2014

While Olivier Aubin-Mercier feasts on a big bowl of poutine -- that’s french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds, by the way -- Jake Matthews has dejectedly crawled into bed.

The Aussie’s decision loss at the hands of Aubin-Mercier marks the first setback of the 19-year-old’s career. Brendan O’Reilly and Daniel Kelly console their young friend, reminding him that he still has his whole career in front of him. Richard Walsh joins in, as does Vik Grujic, who will take on Team Canada’s Luke Harris this week in the last quarterfinal matchup.

Grujic laments that he cannot give his family the life he wants, but he hopes to change that with his run on this show. Harris, meanwhile, recounts his lifelong history with judo and reveals that he was forced to postpone his honeymoon due to joining the cast of “TUF Nations.”

The next day, Matthews is still shook up about his defeat, but he elects to train with the team, anyway. During the Team Australia training session, coach Kyle Noke grabs the attention of his pupils and introduces a special guest: UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Team Australia turns wide-eyed as Jones gives them a pep talk and watches them train. Grujic is especially grateful for Jones’ help, given his upcoming fight. The 205-pound king then shows the Aussies some slick elbow techniques.

Noke brings Jones by the Team Canada locker room as a joke, and the Canadians respond with some blatant horseplay, pretending to jump “Bones” while he is isolated from Team Australia. He wishes the Canadians the best of luck, but also reminds them that he is fully supporting Team Noke.

Later, Sheldon Westcott reveals that he felt his neck “pop” while he was grappling with coach Patrick Cote, resulting in sporadic numbness in his hands. The Canadian has an MRI scheduled and is told to only ride the stationary bike until he is cleared.

Harris makes his preparations for his upcoming fight and reveals that the knockout he suffered in his first pro bout led him to where he is today. Cote is confident in the judoka’s grappling ability and hopes Harris will avoid Grujic’s power punching.

Meanwhile, Team Canada’s Kajan Johnson, Chad Laprise and Aubin-Mercier are trying to decide which of them will fight each other in the welterweight semifinals. Predictably, all of them want to fight Team Australia’s Richard Walsh.

Jones then visits the fighter house and hangs out with Grujic, who shows him pictures of his children. Kelly mans the barbecue, and “Bones” joins Team Australia for dinner, discussing the finer points of nutrition and pre-fight ritual. The UFC light heavyweight champion also signs Tyler Manuwaroa’s chest.

Later, Grujic works diligently on his wrestling, which Noke describes as the Aussie’s weak point. Conversely, Grujic’s best area is his striking, which he hopes will make Harris uncomfortable in the cage. Both men make weight, but Team Canada receives their own special visitor before fight time.

Ex-Strikeforce champion and former Cote adversary Cung Le greets the men and shows them some of his trademarks spinning techniques. Meanwhile, Westcott, now wearing a neck brace, is still unsure of his fighting future. The Canadian receives an exam to test his reflexes, but the jury is still out on whether he can compete in the semis.

Grujic and Harris are now in the cage, and the Aussie pops his larger opponent with a jab after the feeling-out process. Grujic catches the Canadian with a left hook and then dumps him to the canvas, landing in side control and quickly putting Harris to sleep with a series of nasty elbows. The quick finish causes Team Australia to go berserk, though Team Canada still leads five wins to three at the end of the quarterfinal round.

Harris is cut badly over his right eye, and his cheekbone is also jacked, though he appears to have avoided a broken orbital. In spite of the tough defeat, the Canadian has accepted that it was simply not his night.

“This was the most important fight of my career,” Harris says after his wounds are stitched. “Everything in the last seven years has been working toward this. It’s very disappointing to take this loss at this time.”

By contrast, Grujic is predictably ecstatic, and he hopes his performance will be good enough to earn him the $25,000 bonus that comes with winning “Knockout of the Season.” Next week, the eight remaining fighters will be paired in the welterweight and middleweight semifinals, and we will learn the fate of Westcott and his neck injury.


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