TUF Nations: Episode 1 Recap – Kajan Johnson vs Brendan O’Reilly
Well…The premiere of The Ultimate Fighter: Nations is finally here. Coaches Patrick Cote and Kyle Noke lead the Canadian and Australian teams, respectively. Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier, Kajan Johnson, Chad Laprise and Matt DesRoches are in the Welterweight division. Luke Harris, Nordine Taleb, Elias Theodorou, and Sheldon Westcott are in the Middleweight division.
Here is the recap of episode 1 from Quebec, Canada:
Kajan Johnson starts things off, “Even if I am injured, I am more dangerous than anybody else here.”
Matt DesRoches says, “To perform well and represent Canada well is in the back of my head 100% of the time.”
Vic Grujic honestly states that walking into an official UFC gym “is very overwhelming. You feel like a little fish in a big pond.”
Elias Theodorou says that “for any MMA fighter this is what all the dreams is about….this is my first time touching the UFC octagon. It was unreal.”
They introduce Kyle Noke and Patrick Cote who will be the coaches of the teams. They flip the coin and Canada gets control of the first fight pick.
Fight of the season, knockout of the season, and submission of the season gets $25,000. Every finish gets $5,000.
Cote gets up and says we want to “finally make a Canadian the winner of The Ultimate Fighter.”
Sheldon Westcott says this is the “cream of the crop” of Canada and Australia.
Kyle Noke says they should respect the coaches and he does not want to see anyone from Australia crying.
Richard Walsh talks about the TUF House as what he would expect from a typical Canadian country house. Complete with a stuffed moose head! Table hockey set as well!
The Australian team has a mix of ages. Young guys and guys who are fathers.
Kajan Johnson talks fondly about his Canadian teammates. Laprise talks about Kajan having a lot of fight miles on his body but being a great fighter. Of course, Kajan has started rapping already. He has a big personality.
Matt DesRoches says he loves being around these guys with the same desire to train as he does.
Vik Grujic talks about the jet lag team Australia is having. He is only getting a few hours sleep. “Rest is a discipline, too.”
Dana White is on the big screen and welcomes the fighters to the show.
First fight announcement: Kajan Johnson vs Brendan O’Reilly
Cote says that Johnson said he was ready and hadn’t fought in two years.
Tyler Manawaroa called Kajan “cocky” and think O’Reilly will walk right through him. He will “smash this guy. Easy!”
Noke says that Kajan has lost half his fights and seems a bit wild. Cote says that size wise it was a good matchup for them because Johnson is their smallest Welterweight. Luke Harris says he only has three pounds to lose. He says O’Reilly “is in trouble.”
Kajan Johnson talks about his eye injury and he had double vision.
Patrick Cote says that everyone on Team Canada helped each other. Laprise says training went very good. Luke Harris says they have an incredible amount of talent on the team and predicts “a sweep or close to it.”
Olivier Aubin-Mercier and DesRoches both think the Aussies can’t compete with Canada although Laprise says the Aussies will bring it.
Kyle Noke gets his team to spar. Dan Kelly likes that he is a student again. O’Reilly says the training was great. He was just training technique and going through different scenarios. He says the first punch he got was from his older sister.
The Aussies are listening to Team Canada as they are trying to sleep. They confront the Canadians. They say the Canadians are talking nice to their face but talking badly about them behind their back.
Kajan Johnson says he is fighting injured once again. He says he is more “dangerous than anybody else.” “All I ever wanted to be was a ninja.”
Weigh-ins: Kajan Johnson (168) vs Brendan O’Reilly (166) – Two small guys.
Kajan Johnson says he wants to ‘harness the spirit of play.’ He is a MMA pioneer, says Harris. I find him quite the MMA philosopher. Seems like the Aussies just think he’s a showoff.
Kajan Johnson smudges, as many aboriginals do. He believes it grounds him. It makes his energy focused.
Brendan O’Reilly sees MMA as an art form. He loves being around the team. He sees TUF Nations as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Cote tells Johnson to not let his emotions take over his skills. Don’t be too anxious.
Noke says O’Reilly is really strong and tenacious and will finish Johnson. Team Aussie think he wants to be a rapper and not a fighter. O’Reilly doesn’t think Johnson can handle his strength and intensity.
Kajan Johnson says it is his “destiny to be the UFC champion.”
Kajan Johnson vs Brendan O’Reilly
R1. O’Reilly comes out with the left jabs and they clinch. O’Reilly with the double leg, while Kajan knees him, and gets Johnson down. O’Reilly bleeding already. Johnson up and takes him back down. Kajan rolls for and ankle, doesn’t get it, but gets to this feet. He gets O’Reilly’s back. Knee to O’Reilly’s thigh. Johnson with a hook in while O’Reilly is on his feet. O’Reilly hand fighting Johnson but can’t shake him off his back. Left by Kajan and O’Reilly misses wildly with a right. Knees by Johnson in the plum. He gets O’Reilly’s back again. He gets the Rear Naked Choke and O’Reilly taps out.
Kajan Johnson submits Brendan O’Reilly by Rear Naked Choke in Round 1
Full fight video:
Noke says O’Reilly was over-excited and rushed the takedown.
Zein Saliba says it was a scrap and did not get technical until the submission at the end.
Theodorou says O’Reilly came out too hard, too aggressive.
The team chants “Canada, Canada!!!” Kajan Johnson says he had the heel hook and was surprise O’Reilly did not tap. In the Australia room, O’Reilly says he will learn from the loss. When to put his foot on the pedal and when to take it off. O’Reilly gets stitched up over his right eye.
Kajan Johnson says that if he lost, his career would be over. O’Reilly enters the Canadian room. Congratulates the Canadians and tells them that he was never scared. Good scene.
Fight Announcement: Elias Theodorou vs Zein Saliba
Cote says Zein, a BJJ black belt, has not fought in the last year and he expects ring rust. Noke says that Elias is a model so he may not like being punched in the face.
Saliba says he does not know anything about Theodorou. Theodorou says he is confident, not cocky. “I’ve never lost a round. I’ve never lost a fight.”