Sport MMA Vik Grujic’s TUF: Nations blog, episode 3

Vik Grujic’s TUF: Nations blog, episode 3

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Australian mixed martial artist Vik Grujic    is one of the stars of The Ultimate Fighter: Nations, Australia vs Canada, currently airing on FX. Throughout the series, Vik will present to The New Daily readers an exclusive blog detailing his thoughts and experiences, post TUF Nations. Log on to The New Daily every Friday for Vik’s weekly blog.

• Vik’s episode 1 blog
• Vik’s episode 2 blog

2-0 in favour of Canada. None of us are happy about the tally so far. Still we regather, push on and show support for Chris Indich, the next Team Australia fighter to step into the Octagon.

When we first arrived at the house, we noticed two didgeridoos in the lounge area … but no one was game enough to try them out, least of all me! However, it’s amazing how they ended up becoming a great tool to get under the skins of our adversaries.

Both teams used to take shifts with the early morning training runs, so Tyler Manawaroa and the other boys decided to make some noise and stir the Canadians one morning. Tyler obviously took it to another level!

Pranks were becoming a common thing in the house, with “Fred the Moose”, as we called him, the target of the Team Australia boys. Attacking Fred with the strategic placement of some tampons really seemed to get under the Canadians’ skin … most of all, Kajan Johnson, as I recall. Little things like these pranks made time pass a little easier and obviously a lot more humorous for us.

Gotcha! Vik Grujic (right) gives Chad Laprise some weighty issues by a strategically placed foot on the scales.
Gotcha! Vik Grujic (right) gives Chad Laprise some weighty issues with a strategically placed foot on the scales.

One prank I have been a repeat offender for is my scales prank. I wait for a fighter to step on the scales to check his weight, then place my foot on the scale behind him, adding just enough weight to cause alarm. I have seen many guys shriek in panic! I was a bit let down that I didn’t get enough of a reaction from Chad. He was a little too cool about it — but then again, he wasn’t going to act too alarmed around all of us right before weigh-ins.

Tyler Manawaroa tucks into a bowl of boiled eggs and avocado. Needless to say, he wasn't enjoying it!
Tyler Manawaroa tucks into a bowl of boiled eggs and avocado. Needless to say, he wasn’t enjoying it!

One issue we all saw from day one was Tyler’s weight! I had been on his back repeatedly about it. Coach Kyle Noke asked a few of us to make sure he wasn’t eating crap in the house, and I was already on his case about this, trying to help him as much as I could. There was no doubt he was overweight and was making things difficult for himself. But one thing is for sure with this season of The Ultimate Fighter: The level of professionalism of the fighters on both sides.

Team Australia trainer Jon Chaimberg (right) with his regular student, Team Canada's Chad Laprise.
Team Australia trainer Jon Chaimberg (right) with his regular student, Team Canada’s Chad Laprise.

Jon Chaimberg came in to assist as our strength and conditioning coach. This man would terrorise us in ways you couldn’t imagine, but we were all the better for it. To fight at the level we are, you have to train your body to its absolute peak.

The Canadians, however, didn’t like the fact that Jon had come in to help the Aussies, given he’s also the trainer of Team Canada members Chad Leprise and Nordine Taleb. We could overhear the Canadians when they arrived for their training calling Jon a traitor and things like this. He was there as a favour to coach Kyle and to appear on The Ultimate Fighter … simple!

As usual, fight day was upon us before we knew it. With both men ready and warm, us Team Australia fighters took our place on the bleachers again, with the symbolic didgeridoo for Chris.

The tale of the tape.
The tale of the tape.

The first round round was explosive, with both fighters standing toe-to-toe the entire time. Chris stayed on top of Chad, trading blows, but Chad looked to be getting the better of these exchanges. Chris’ head movement and footwork was a step behind Chad’s, unfortunately. While Chris threw some good combos and punches and advanced like a warrior, Chad’s movement proved to be the key to securing the first round.

In the second round, both men again came out swinging again. Chris attempted a couple of takedowns, but to no avail. At one point, it seemed that each time Chris threw a punch, Chad was deep in the pocket and countered every shot. It was a hard fight to watch as I saw Chad getting the better of my teammate. This obviously meant Canada would move ahead on the scoreboard, but more importantly, Chris was looking worse for wear, taking some hard shots and bleeding from the face.

Nevertheless, Chris wowed all of us, his heart and courage never once faltering. He just moved forward time and time again — no one could ever say Chris Indich is not a warrior. Respect earned from both sides!

Face of a warrior ... Team Australia's Chris Indich shows the scars of battle following his bout with Chad Laprise.
Face of a warrior … Team Australia’s Chris Indich shows the scars of battle following his bout with Chad Laprise.

Chad Leprise secured the win unanimously and Canada moved to a 3-0 lead.

Next up was the fight picks, and … WOW! All I can say is, WOW…

We all had our picks of who we wanted to fight, and we regularly spoke about our suggested matchups. But the one we all wanted to see was about to take place … Nordine vs Tyler.

Here’s a little back story on the “discussion” that took place between both teams leading up to this fight pick: As we had the earlier training run in the morning, Team Australia was in bed early while Team Canada were gathered in the lounge area, making as much noise as they could. Talking. Conspiring. Backstabbing as usual, like little old ladies.

The stage is set ... Team Canada's Nordine Taleb and Team Australia's Tyler Manawaroa face off as coaches Patrick Cote (left) and Kyle Noke (right) look on.
The stage is set … Team Canada’s Nordine Taleb and Team Australia’s Tyler Manawaroa face off as coaches Patrick Cote (left) and Kyle Noke (right) look on.

Tyler, Chris, Zein and myself all shared the same room, and we were laughing amongst ourselves at the over-confidence of the Canadians when we overheard Kajan talk about how “nobody would want to fight Nordine”, how we were scared of him. Tyler immediately shouted out some insult from our room upstairs and the exchanges went back and forth. Eventually, Tyler took the bait and stormed out of the room — naturally, we all followed behind to support our brother. Tyler shouted out to Kajan to shut his mouth and said: “I’ll take anyone here on, I’m not scared. I’ll fight Nordine!”. Tyler looked at Nordine and said, “You and me!”. Nordine simply replied, “As you wish…”.

So Patrick Côté called up Nordine at the weigh-ins, and Nordine was given the honour of personally calling out Tyler, saying: “Since you call me out Tyler, it is as you wish, I pick you”.

This has the potential to be fight of the season. I personally know the result, but all I will say is this: This is one hell of a crazy brawl!

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