I’m currently binge watching The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 and it is so much better than TUF: Nations. All due respect to my Canadian and Australian homies, they’re doing what they can. The show just has no spark. I fully support their efforts to get away from the pranks and juvenile behaviour that were hallmarks of the early seasons, but what we’re left with is a straightforward competition for a prize that doesn’t mean as much as it used to.
Don’t let the old production values of TUF: Brazil fool you: the total lack of self-consciousness by the contestants is what makes it refreshing. These guys will play along in any scenario. At times, it’s like watching a foreign game show. Winning the contest and making money are secondary concerns. The Brazilians also have ways of showing respect and affection that you just won’t see in our stuffy culture. They laugh and sing and kiss and hug and everyone just carries on like it ain’t no thang. They also cry a lot. And I love it.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming. The house is feeling the aftershocks of the Dan Kelly loss. When we last left off, the Australians were outraged at the exuberance displayed by Team Canada, particularly Elias Theodorou and Kajan Johnson. Johnson is singled out for allegedly yelling “He’s done! He’s done!” an incredibly offensive sentiment considering Kelly suffered a serious injury. They show a replay and all we get is Johnson screaming “That’s f**king right!” That could be construed as offensive in its own way, though it doesn’t lend much credence to the accusations against him. Few things are more frustrating than being accused of saying something you don’t remember and having no way to prove it.
The person to really feel bad for is Sheldon Westcott. He has to deal with this drama instead of getting to enjoy the most exciting performance of the season. I also feel bad for Kelly, especially now that TRT just got banned. We could have pumped him up and thrown him right back into the cage.
Vik Grujic has his own take on it:
I don’t know whether he’s denying it, but at the same time you know, there’s that moment after a fight where you kind of just…“Yeah!”…you’re so excited and s**t will blurt out and…“eat s**t motherf**ker!”
Then we get a rap from Brendan O’Reilly:
I lost my ??? in an accident
It’s not my fault ‘cause it’s subsequent
You ever been to Melbourne come to Dan Kelly’s gym, resilience
Is what we got up in Oz
‘cause we f**kin’ smash you
With the scissor kick
Cut my dick (???)
That transcript makes it sound better than it actually was.
The spotlight shines on young Jake Matthews during the Australian training session. He’s young and confident, part of the new generation of MMA fighters who dabble in all of the disciplines from the go rather than specializing. The majority of his training has been handled by his dad, so you have to imagine he’s nowhere near reaching his potential unless his dad is Anderson Silva. It will do this kid a lot of good to move to a bigger camp at some point.
Matthews makes the mistake of calling Olivier Aubin-Mercier “overrated”. That is one of my least favourite critical terms. Overrated relative to what exactly? The word does not exist in a void! The word always carries an air of condescension to it too, as if the speaker knows something we don’t. I can’t stand it. And in the fight game, calling someone overrated is senseless because you’re diminishing your own achievement if you end up beating them. That’s Pro Wrestling 101!
On the Canadian side, les bon temps continuent à rouler…except for the fact that the team has been too successful. The more they win, the greater their chances of fighting a teammate. Johnson laughs at how intense the sparring is getting and posits that both he and Chad Laprise would rather fight each other than Aubin-Mercier.
Aubin-Mercier is getting the Nordine Taleb hype job. In his young career, he’s established himself as a fighter with an intense motor and unstoppable takedowns. Johnson goes as far as to say he could snag the French-Canadian fan base with Georges St-Pierre out of the picture. Not surprisingly, GSP was the inspiration for Aubin-Mercier’s decision to get into MMA.
In a touching moment with Luke Harris, we find out that Aubin-Mercier had to miss his daughter’s 2nd birthday to be on the show. I also enjoyed this scene because Harris, as the conscience of Team Canada, has to remind Aubin-Mercier to start working on his diary. Do your homework or you’re going to bed without supper, young man!
I have to pay some bills now by mentioning that Kyle Noke rolls up to practice in a Ferrari, setting the stage for a Forza Motorsport 5 contest. They set up an Xbox One and a sweet driving apparatus in the house. The player with the fastest time wins a console and a ride in the Ferrari.
It’s shameless product integration, not unlike the constant Bony Açai and Gillette references over on TUF: Brazil. I do find it disconcerting when the show goes to break and I’m hit with yet another Forza ad. However, the short sequence does give us an opportunity to check in on some of our favourite cast members:
Chris Indich ends up winning. He doesn’t get to actually drive the car. LAME. Maybe it’s the filthy ‘stache he’s rocking. They do have an image to maintain, after all.
Pardon the flurry of pictures, there were just a lot of good shots in this episode. It only got better at the weigh-ins. One look at Matthews and it is hard not to think of one of Canada’s most universally beloved exports…
Love him or hate him, the kid brings people together. Matthews challenges Justin Bieber to a fight, but not before signing the photo for Aubin-Mercier who I’m sure is a fan of the music.
The only concern left on the Canadian side is that Aubin-Mercier might want to win one for his friend Taleb, rather than concentrating on his own performance. They bond over crepes, as French people do.
Going into this, I’d heard of Aubin-Mercier but knew nothing about Matthews. It’s always hard to guess how unknown properties like Matthews will turn out. Kelvin Gastelum anyone?
Everyone is surprised by how strong his striking is. I think he’s too upright, but he’s landing and he’s the aggressor in the early going. Aubin-Mercier later admits that he allowed himself to get hit since he’d never been touched in any of his previous fights. O…kay…
It takes half a round for Aubin-Mercier to get a trip. From there, the action goes as you’d expect. Give credit to Matthews for having an active guard, but Aubin-Mercier is patient. He picks his spots and lands effective ground and pound. There’s little positional advancement, not that it matters. Aubin-Mercier takes the first round 10-9.
The second round is more of the same. Matthews ignores his corner’s advice and shoots for a takedown, which turns out to be a huge mistake. Aubin-Mercier counters with a standing kimura leading to them going back to the mat with Aubin-Mercier on top. He takes the back and stays there. Johnson predicted that Aubin-Mercier would win via rear naked choke and this is about as close as you can get without an actual finish. The lack of a decisive sub has Aubin-Mercier feeling bummed out after. They remind him he’s getting an Xbox One and he does a little dance.
Matthews is convinced that there wasn’t anything more he could do technique-wise, that it was all just a matter of execution. There’s some truth to that; however, anyone could see that Aubin-Mercier was on a completely different level on the ground. With more work in that area, Matthews could have a serious future in the UFC.
The first round of the welterweight bracket is done. All three Canadian winners are from Tristar, which isn’t too surprising.
One last thing. I’m baffled at the complete lack of heat between the two coaches. From what we see, there is minimal contact between the two and any interactions are cordial. They’re extensions of their teams and vise-a-versa.
Question for the readers: In terms of a potential fight, can you recall there being less anticipation for a TUF coaching match-up?
Next week: Team Canada’s Luke Harris v. Team Australia’s Vik Grujic. Also, I try to fit in even more Justin Bieber references in a shameless attempt to get more traffic.