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.
So, where were we? Ah, yes, heading into week three of TUF Nations, Team Canada has a 2-0 lead on our opponents from Down Under. The first Canadian victory was by the “Ragin” one, Mr. Kajan Johnson. His rear naked choke ended a two-year inactive drought due to injuries and scrapped fights. As the most experienced competitor on the show, it was great to see his hand raised inside the Octagon. Next to bat was none other than yours truly. My fight was a two-round grinder that ended with my arm raised in victory. I had complete control over my opponent — the pace I fought at was too much for Zein Saliba, not to mention that both gravity and slams were not his friends.
With that said, the Hair is one step closer to achieving the dream. On a more serious note, it was a great weight off my shoulders to win for my country, advancing beyond the first round and moving closer to the finals. I am here to become a UFC fighter.
Canada’s confidence riding high…
This gave Team Canada the fight pick advantage once again, with the second welterweight bout pitting undefeated Canadian prospect Chad Laprise against Australia’s Chris Indich. A healthy two-point lead for Team Canada helped create a winning atmosphere in training; you can see it in both our focus and swagger each time we entered the gym — everything looks better in slow mo. It was almost palpable. Our team was also in the groove at practice; we have a winning formula and some of the best talent in the country. There are so many different fighting styles, skills and strengths in one room. Not to mention the fact that everyone bonded incredibly quickly, making us want each other to succeed and taste victory.
The silent assassin…
As the fighter representing Team Canada this episode, a much bigger focus was placed upon the sometimes quiet Chad “The Disciple” Laprise. Don’t let this fool you, though. This private individual speaks volumes with his strikes. He has terrific punching and kicking abilities. The man is a “beast” as Kajan would say. He comes from a well-known gym in London, Ont., which has produced some of the best strikers in Canadian MMA.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Watch TUF Nations every Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST on Sportsnet 360 and visit sportsnet.ca for weekly previews, recaps and blogs
Chad trains with the likes of Mark Hominick, Sam Stout, Chris Horodecki and (my all-time favourite) Chris Clements. He always has a smile on his face when he’s punching yours. Not to mention, the man is a ninja! But I digress…
Faith fuels him…
During the episode, we received a glimpse into Chad’s passion for his faith and martial arts. He used scripture to give him strength throughout the day and for his fight. Seeing it firsthand, I can tell you it gave him clarity and focus. It was an impressive thing to witness, actually.
Chad is a very nice person. I’ve known him for years now. We competed in a few regional shows together and did some training before our TUF stint. I’ve always been aware that once you let Chad get into his groove, whether in training or a fight, you are in trouble. He has something to throw at you from every angle.
No shame in going out on your shield…
Unfortunately for Chris Indich, Chad was able to find his rhythm from the outset of round one. He put on a jab clinic, with his footwork proving too much for his opponent. Chad dictated much of the pace, save for the wild punches from his Australian counterpart — many missed swings from the Aussie, actually. As Cote would later comment regarding the fight, the difference was “the accuracy” of Chad. With that said, Chris was able to land a few flush blows on the much better striker. This wasn’t due to his technical skills, but his heart would not let him give up. As seen in the closing moments of the episode, Chris gave it his all in the Octagon.
We are all in the house, on the show and in the Octagon chasing our dream, and Chris’s loss didn’t allow him to get closer to his, at this moment. I feel for my mate, as I know how much this means to him — to all of us. Chris is growing as a fighter and is a great person. He’s one of the wittiest guys I found myself stuck with during my six-week stay on TUF. I wish him only the best.
It’s about to go down!
Now riding a three-fight win streak, Team Canada is talking “complete sweep” amongst each other. I know it’s a bit premature, but we look to have all the right pieces in place to win this quasi-team tournament. Next up is Canadian middleweight Nordine “The Machine” Taleb. He was able to pick his own fight and challenged the “Wild Thing” Tyler Manawaroa.
Throughout this week’s episode, we got to witness the rumblings between the two. Nordine is a mature, calculated ninja assassin that demands respect. The brash, 19-year-old Australian is much more out there, but still boasts a perfect 10-0 MMA record. It’s not only a clash of styles, but also one of personalities that will make for a hell of a fight next week — this I promise you!
Until next week,
Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasTheodorou