Elias Theodorou of Mississauga, Ont., is one of eight Canadians competing on TUF Nations. He will be writing weekly blogs for sportsnet.ca to share an inside perspective about what went on inside the gym and house.
That’s how Team Canada rolls…
Chad Laprise’s win over Chris Indich left us with control once again after the quintessential striker picked apart the Robert Drysdale purple belt. Chad’s jab clinic and near-perfect footwork was great to watch and Chris’s big heart was just about the only thing that kept him in the fight.
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Heading into week four, Team Canada was riding high in just about every way possible. You could sense the difference every time we came into contact with our Australian counterparts — the enemy! My big head was all smiles, and why wouldn’t it be? At this point, our three-fight win streak had created an atmosphere of positivity we could almost touch and even taste. (Thankfully, I already fought and could eat cake again — did you see how delicious Chad’s cheesecake looked?) This attitude was also evident in my sexy dance moves displayed in last week’s episode, rocking out to the new headphones every winner receives, which I used to dance the night away. That’s a big deal when trapped/living with 15 other knuckleheads.
The slow boil…
At the beginning of episode four, we got a glimpse of some of the tension between our teams starting to bubble over. After the Laprise-Indich fight and new fight pick, we witnessed the exchange of words and awkward smiles between Nordine and Chris, which added another layer of tension to Nordine vs Tyler.
The hostility between the two middleweights goes beyond just the Canadian dominance so far. Nordine prides himself on being a serious, calculated mixed martial artist who has a specific game plan going into the cage. Tyler, on the other hand, is correctly dubbed “Wild Thing.” With no specific thought process, the kid just throws down and asks questions later. We saw throughout this episode Tyler refusing to show his “scared face” to a man both intimidating and carved out of granite. Let’s call a spade a spade: Nordine is an intense humanoid and for the brash, undefeated 19-year-old to dismiss this was quite the bold statement.
Your body is a temple or a garbage dump…
Another major aspect of fighting is health and fitness. Nordine is very conscious of the fuel he puts into his body. I am a big believer in the idea of “you are what you eat” and for Nordine that means nothing but the best food available. In contrast, we saw in earlier episodes that Tyler’s weight was a concern for the Australian coaches. His body is clearly not his temple, unless he’s renting it out to his sweet tooth, devouring any garbage he can get his hands on. Sorry, brah, it’s true!
Let’s not forget that both fighters are true welterweights, or at least they should be — the cut for them to 185pounds isn’t fun, of course, but it’s nothing like mine. I rely on Fuel Foods to give me enough nutrition in each meal to train and recover while allowing me to reach my desired weight. Science tastes delicious when you do it right, and I do. Coming from 215 pounds to 185 pounds isn’t easy, especially if you don’t have the right fuel.
Styles and personalities clash…
I can tell you that, without a doubt, going into this fight Team Canada was positive we would get our fourth straight victory. Nordine looked too good warming up; he was strong, fast and accurate, just like every time I trained with him. In the other room was a young, brash fighter that had his own plan. Waiting by the bleachers, both teams remained silent in anticipation of what could possibly be the fight of the season. Once in the Octagon, with the cage door closed, there was no stopping this clash of personalities and styles.
A three-round war…
Nordine took the centre of the Octagon in a show of early dominance, kicking his opponent repeatedly. As the slugfest continued, Nordine locked a painful looking clinch on Wild Thing, throwing a barrage of knees and elbows that would have felled a lesser man. Tyler kept coming, however, throwing wild shots, all of which landed, keeping him in the fight. By the end of the second round, after a respite for an errant shot south of the border, both teams were on their feet cheering for their teammates.
It was time for the first “sudden victory” round of the season, with the fate of both warriors hanging in the balance. The third round was a nail-biter, with both men giving all they had left. Nordine secured a takedown in the last minute and the fight was his for the taking, but no one told Tyler, who used his feet and the fence to reverse the once sure winner. Landing in full mount, dropping huge shots from the top and even taking the back, Wild Thing was still in it at the end.
The shocking outcome…
When Tyler was declared the unanimous decision winner of this ultra-close, hotly contested battle, Team Australia exploded in celebration. By poking the lion, and ultimately defeating him, the indomitable Canadian force had suffered its first loss. Tyler had done the unthinkable and used his rage to beat the Machine.
This gave Team Australia their first taste of victory and control of the next fight pick. The third welterweight contest will pit unbeaten Air Force Corporal Matthew DesRoches (4-0) against the bearded one, “Filthy” Richard Walsh (7-1). With Canada’s first taste of defeat, Matt has the opportunity, and pressure, to bring his country back into the winning column. Tune in next Wednesday to see what Team Canada does next. Spoiler alert! There is a snowball fight with yours truly.
Until next week,
Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasTheodorou