Well, if things were a little weird during our first few days surrounding the first fight, they only got stranger post-bout. As Ron Burgundy would say, “Well, that escalated quickly.”

I personally was looking to the future, because that is where my destiny was. I couldn’t harp on what had just happened and the mistakes I’d made. I was determined to make the most of my opportunities, and I was therefore chomping at the bit to get back into training and earn myself another opportunity to show what I can really do. I had no real bad blood for the Canadians, and I feel the friendliness of myself and my Aussie teammates confused and possibly even irritated the Canucks.

One Canadian fighter in particular, Nordine Taleb, seemed particularly cold, and at times almost hostile. I’m pretty sure he sat for a whole 24 hours at one point, plotting to kill me. In my usual straight-shooting style, I decided to ask him if everything was alright, because his staring was starting to creep the Aussies out. It’s almost as if he wanted to murder us all and bury us in the vast mountainous wilderness of Quebec!

“Are you alright?” I asked. “You seem upset.”

“You will know if I’m upset,” he replied.

With this conclusive answer from Mr. Taleb, I could only put his staring down to a keen interest in my battlebeard. Perhaps he had never seen such a fine specimen of face kevlar before. That’s what I’ll tell myself, anyhow.

The next fight had been announced, between Australia’s Zein Saliba and Canada’s Elias Theodorou, and it was set to be a rippa!

Zein is a skilled grappler, and although he has questionable taste in underwear, which he enjoyed also wearing as casual streetwear around the house and gym, he’s a dangerous fighter with the ability to finish this fight.

We didn’t know much about Elias, but he didn’t take a lot of prompting to begin to tell you all about himself. Elias seems like a nice guy, one of the louder blokes on the Canadian team, but harmless nonetheless. His choice of underwear is also far more substantial than Zein’s, which is quite irrelevant, but I just want you all to understand how mentally scarred I am because of Zein Saliba’s bikini briefs.

Zein was looking quite good in training and seemed eager to get in there and throw down. I’d seen him fight back home against our fellow team member, Vik Grujic, in what was a really even battle and great fight to watch. Hopefully this fight would live up to expectations.

The fighters on Team Australia didn’t know much about Elias, apart from him having had 12 kickboxing fights. We didn’t put too much weight in this, as there was a good chance it was a tactical drop of intel to get us to sleep on his grappling ability.

Weigh-in day rolled around, and both Zein and Elias were looking lean. Elias looked pretty dry and drawn out. He’s definitely a big middleweight, and the cut is a fairly serious one for him. Elias weighed in first, making the 186-pound limit. Next up was Saliba, complete with his trademark bikini briefs, much to my dismay. Zein also came in at 186. The staredown was intense, and Elias threw in some strange cat gestures which only seemed to focus and irritate Saliba more.

Fight day arrived, and there was tension in the air. As the fight began, it was clear that Elias wanted Zein pinned against the cage. Elias worked some controls, but Zein was able to scramble to Elias’ back early in round one, only to lose position fairly quickly. From there, the round was basically takedowns and control from Elias, with some scrambling thrown in there from Zein. It became apparent that Zein was having a hard time defending the takedown, and as the round ended, we braced for a second round of more of the same from Elias, hoping for a slick submission display or flash knockout from Saliba.

Round two saw more of the same from Elias. Not much damage was done, but he was winning this fight on control and dominance. Late in the round, Zein had an opportunity to take Elias’ back in dominant position, but unfortunately again lost position. A last second scramble saw Zein throw a “Hail Mary” jumping punch to his downed opponent, to no avail.

Elias had won this fight through superior takedowns and control, and the mood in the Australian Team room was intense and somber. We were angry—we all hate losing. Our coaching staff were disappointed, and we all wanted to prove to them we could win this competition.

I know I felt personally responsible for a substandard performance in our opening days, which had left us without control of choice. I was determined to prove to my coaches, teammates and the world that what they’d seen was not a true indication of my ability. I had something to prove and was determined I would over the rest of the competition.

Following the fight, we had the next fight announcement. Patrick Cote announced Canadian striking specialist Chad Laprise and Australian grappling gun Chris Indich. This was set to be an exciting fight—a definite underdog story for Indo, as Chad is a rising star and had fought in large promotions previously. Indich is a tough guy, has a strong mind and legitimate skills. We knew this would be a great test for Indo, but I had great faith that my Indigenous brother from another mother would get the job done!

Until next week…stay tuned!

Keep Badgin’!

Brendan “Badger” O’Reilly would like to thank his cult-like supporters, his major sponsors Mass Nutrition Chermside, Sports Master, Harris Stability Systems, Battlebeard Athletica and Gamebred Combat Club in Brisbane, Australia. Follow the Badger’s antics on Twitter: @oreillymma
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About The Author

Brendan O'Reilly
TUF: Nations Blogger

Brendan "Badger" O'Reilly prides himself on being a physical and aggressive fighter. He is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is a former Greco-Roman and Freestyle wrestling state champion in Australia. Before discovering MMA, Brendan was a representative Rugby League player, while also competing in rodeos. He set aside both sports to focus solely on succeeding in mixed martial arts. Outside of competing as a professional fighter, Brendan owns and operates Gamebred Combat Club, a Cross Fit and MMA gym, in Brisbane, Australia and also boasts a degree in Applied Science.