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.
All eyes were now firmly fixed on Team Australia middleweight Dan Kelly for the next fight. We started the season with three straight losses, but the wins of Tyler Manawaroa and ‘Filthy’ Rich Walsh had us back in business at 3-2.
With morale soaring following Richy’s win, we felt a renewed sense of purpose as a team. The mood in the house had changed drastically, with a lot more jokes and friendliness being bandied around. The Canadians knew we were there for business and not to be taken lightly. Respect had been restored to Team Australia.
As soon as Richy Walsh won his fight, Team Canada’s Chad Laprise and Kajan Johnson started stirring the pot to get the chance to fight him. They had obviously come to the realisation that it was possible either of them may have to face a teammate in the semi-finals, so they began enticing Richy to accept their challenges. This was actually quite amusing … as the series progresses I’m sure this will come into play a lot more, hahaha.
Now after training both teams would get together, playing pool and being a lot more open and not as opposed as before.
Yes, we were all getting friendly — but one thing remained. The fight. The challenge. We had our four-time Olympian Dan Kelly, who was no stranger to such challenges, up next. We all went about our daily business and business was good. Normal training sessions, yet training could be described as anything but normal on most days.
Why? Izzy Style, that’s why.
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Coach Israel Martinez is one of Team Australia coach Kyle Noke’s coaches at Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque New Mexico, USA. Izzy is a good friend to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and a successful coach at his own school in Chicago … and a hell of wrestling coach at that. His antics would make us laugh, but his ability to get through and teach is nothing short of supreme.
Describing Izzy as a coach? His demand for excellence from you is sometimes a tough ask. He trains the best there is and expects that level of dedication. Even though you feel you can’t give him what he deserves from you, there is no room for weakness. Izzy builds champions. You’re either one, or you’re not. The strong breed the strong and fighting is the toughest sport there is.
Just when you think you you’re falling behind, you realise you’re actually ahead. He’s a kind of modern day Mr Miyagi. Izzy Style!
The weigh ins came around for Dan Kelly and his opponent, Team Canada’s Sheldon Westcott. Yet again, professionalism was not in question at the TUF Nations house! After the weigh-ins, a surprise was in store for us. We were assembled in the gym as Patrick Cote appeared live via Skype to inform us that we were to watch UFC 167 live from the house.
Finally, a break from the stale routine we were subjected to!
Back at the house, there was popcorn, a fairy floss machine, snow cones, Beaver Tales ( a new favourite of mine), all sorts of goodies. Can’t forget the coaches turned up too.
As we sat and watched the UFC a reality sank in on me. Here I was, me, in Canada. On The Ultimate Fighter. With other awesome fighters in this amazing house. Watching the UFC live, fighting for the UFC. Now picture yourself in my position … it was surreal to say the least. My hard work has actually gotten me somewhere. Don’t ever let it be said, hard work doesn’t pay off!
So GSP kept his title, much to a lot of people’s surprise. But it was a tough fight with a great finish. Well done GSP. Even though everyone there was shocked, hahaha.
Next day was fight day … and it came and went fast. The officials were now becoming usual faces, and we performed our standard drill, taking our places on the bleachers as the fighters make their entrances.
The fight. From the opening bell, Sheldon rushed Daniel, landing a stiff jab and attacking like a man possessed. From my seat it all looked so sudden and one sided.
Dan somewhere in the middle of the fight popped his knee. Sheldon’s performance was explosive. Bing. Bang. Boom. The fight was done. Team Australia was shocked at what just happened and equally so were the Canadians, but in a more positive way than us.
Dan Kelly and I didn’t really click from the start. We would train together and represent our country, as well as our own individual pursuits. Despite this, we would never step on each other’s toes and respect was always present and we would always pull together as teammates.
Witnessing his loss, coming to the realisation he may have popped his knee, possibly having torn his ACL, was tough — especially knowing his goal was to build a name for his gym and provide for his ill child. My heart bled for the guy. Not pity, but empathy. For me, a curse. I connect with people who I am close with and feel pain deeply. I could only imagine how shit he must have been feeling.
So when I heard Kajan Johnson mouth off and speak badly of Dan, I got extremely defensive and protective and became enraged. I couldn’t believe he would speak about Dan like this! We all lived together. We spoke to one another daily. I had to contain my rage as I felt it boiling up inside. I am not the type of person to openly disrespect someone. If I had something to say, I would say it to their face.
I have recently come under fire on social media from strangers and friends alike for a misunderstanding and something most had no right commenting on. Again, I had to contain myself even though I knew I was in the right. Some people just don’t have this ability and wave their wand of hate in your general direction. Some just because they have no consideration or respect. Believe me, this rant can go on and on, haha. But you get my point.
The next fight pick sees Jake Matthews (my good mate from Melbourne, yay!) taking on Team Canada welterweight Olivier Aubin-Mercier (boo) … which leaves Luke Harris to face little old me the following week.
Things are now heating up, in the cage and at home. Stay tuned for more madness from your crazy TUF Nations crew in an all new episode next Thursday on FX at 4:30pm.
Until next week, same bat time, same bat channel!