The first season of The Ultimate Fighter filmed in the Great White North has been a success — especially if you were cheering for Team Canada — so what better way to cap off TUF Nations than with a bit of UFC history?
When Sheldon Westcott and Team Australia’s Vik Grujic were paired together in the penultimate middleweight tournament bout not many expected it to last very long. However, no one could have predicted the finish we saw.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: Watch the live TUF Nations Finale Wednesday, April 16 with a UFC Central preview at 4 p.m. EST, prelims starting at 5 p.m. EST, and the main card at 7 p.m. EST on Sportsnet 360
Westcott (8-1-1) thrashed four-time Olympian Dan Kelly in the quarterfinals, while Grujic (6-2) made quick work of Luke Harris to advance to the semis.
A spot opposite Elias Theodorou at the live finale in Quebec City was on the line.
Five of Westcott’s eight pro wins, plus his victory over Kelly, have come within the first minute of round one and he continued that trend against Grujic.
The two men clashed in the centre of the cage like two rams battling for territorial dominance. Grujic defended several aggressive Westcott takedown attempts as the two traded shots in the clinch. Eventually the Canadian lifted his opponent up and slammed him to the ground.
Grujic held on to a guillotine choke when he was taken down and Westcott used that to his advantage. Westcott trapped Grujic’s arm and locked his unsuspecting foe in a modified Von Flue choke from half-guard that forced a frantic tap.
“The choke was done by Jason Von Flue first [in 2006], but he did it in side control where when I finished Vik it was actually in half-guard,” Westcott said after the fight. “It’s the first time it’s ever been done from half guard in the UFC.”
Westcott drilled the rare move in his dressing room prior to the bout and it impressed everyone in the gym.
“It’s very rare a choke like that, especially in the half-guard position,” Team Canada coach Patrick Cote said. “You can call that the Von Flue, but he did that in side control so I think now we can call [the move] ‘The Westcott.'”
The win was the biggest of Westcott’s career and considering he dealt with knee and neck injuries throughout filming, he was elated to come out victorious.
“With all my injuries, being hurt, I didn’t think I was going to fight,” Westcott said. “When everywhere around you, nothing looks like success, know that if you keep working, keep listening to the people around you that one day is going to be your day and today ended up being my day.”
Grujic was disappointed with his performance, but overall cherished the experience of being on the show.
“I just made a mistake that I used to teach my students a couple years ago. To have that happen to myself in such a short amount of time within the first round it’s pretty humiliating,” Grujic said. “It’s obviously an honour to be a part of this season of The Ultimate Fighter and to be fighting for the UFC and having this great group of guys around me to support me and with the Canadians too. But I just wanted that little bit more and I just didn’t come up with the goods today.”
Next week, at the finale, Westcott faces Theodorou in the middleweight final and Chad Laprise takes on fellow welterweight finalist Olivier Aubin-Mercier. The winners will become the first TUF champs from Canada.
Outside the Octagon
GSP pays the TUF house a visit
Prior to the final fight, Georges St-Pierre visited the fighters and had dinner with everyone. During the filming of the show, GSP was fresh off his controversial UFC 167 win over Johny Hendricks so he discussed it with both teams. He reiterated that he felt he did enough to win and that the decision was not a robbery.
He also gave the athletes advice on how to prolong their MMA careers and train smart. The former UFC welterweight champion is friends and training partners with several members of Team Canada and a few of the Australian fighters, including Richard Walsh and Jake Matthews, mentioned several times throughout the show that GSP was their fighter.