Let me pick up where we left off last week. Tyler Manawaroa had just beaten Nordine Taleb in an epic upset over one of the favorites from Team Canada. I still believe Nordine is an amazing fighter and perhaps the most well-rounded middleweight on Team Canada, which makes Tyler’s victory even more impressive.

The fight announcement had seen Australia’s “Filthy” Richard Walsh face off against Matt DesRoches, a very quiet and somewhat solitary guy from Canada. Nobody on Team Australia was counting Matt out because of how quiet he seemed—still waters run deep, and we all knew that he was here for a reason. Rich would have his work cut out for him, but Filthy Rich was an experienced guy with a tactical mindset. I knew he’d be a very tough fight for any welterweight.

We Aussies had always been a close-knit team, but Tyler’s win had lifted spirits and boosted morale even more. We’d weathered the storm together, through a turbulent trip over to Canada and a tough start to the competition, and emerged the other side as more than just a team. We honestly felt like brothers. On arrival back at the house, we didn’t hesitate to get outside and have some fun in the snow. There was plenty of laughs during our epic snowball fight, in which Canada’s Elias Theodorou joined us for the fun. Contrary to what he’d have you believe, I’m pretty sure we demolished him, but he was still impressive given how outnumbered he was. Oh, and Jake Matthews used it as a prime opportunity to show the world his cherub-like butt.

It was all fun and games until we realized that snow is simply frozen water, which later melts and becomes actual water, which means you’re wet. Rookie mistake. It was then obvious why the rest of the Canadians wanted no part in our winter wonderland fun!

During Richie’s pre-fight training, he was looking extremely sharp. His hands were fast and accurate, his movement was light. Rich is a very well-rounded fighter, coming from a good team back in Australia, and I had great confidence in his ability to win this fight. Furthermore, I believed that Rich being as intelligent as he is would allow him to strategically work his way around any problems that Matt presented in the cage.

Both guys made weight and looked in great shape, although Rich did appear to be the physically bigger fighter and had a distinct height advantage. Rich rehydrated well, ate a good meal and was good to go. His experience was evident, and he seemed to be in a very good headspace.

During one of my round table discussions with Rich before his fight, in which we were probably discussing irrigating crops, grooming our beards or why my limbs were so short, I spotted an empty water canister. It was a simple plastic jug, but in my mind’s artistic eye it was so much more than that. This was to be my new megaphone to motivate Richie during his fight and to irritate Daniel Kelly during my impromptu renditions of “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Kelly knew what sort of horror was to come and didn’t seem too keen as I toiled with my elf helper, Jake. After what seemed like a lifetime—and with the help of an ornamental saw off the wall—my megaphone was complete, and I didn’t hesitate to let everyone in the house know by using it as a didgeridoo amplifier.

Fight day rolled around, and it seemed Filthy Rich had peaked perfectly for this day. As the fight kicked off, he did seem a little stiff, not letting go of his combos as much as he usually does, but that’s to be expected with his first fight in the house. Matt was surprisingly aggressive and wasn’t taking a backward step. After an initial tussle against the cage, Rich gained some good control and was able to control Matt for the most part. There were a few stints of open striking in the round, with both guys letting some heavy shots fly. In the closing seconds of round one, Richie landed a nice short overhand right which sent Matt backwards. It shook him, but he didn’t look in terrible danger. Matt is obviously a pretty tough guy.

Round two was quite similar, with Rich opting to strike until an opportunity presented itself to gain cage control and work Matt against the fence. Filthy Rich landed a nice hard jab which sat Matt down and made Rich look even more dominant. I have to give credit to Matt for fighting the whole time. He never gave up anything easily and was throwing heavy shots to the closing bell.

After Rich controlled the first two rounds, it was announced that he’d taken the decision victory, and all of us on Team Australia were obviously ecstatic. I think this fight came down to the intelligence and experience of Richie, which, when coupled with his talent, was just too much for Matt to overcome. He also had some great coaching, with clear instructions coming from the Australian corner during the fight. I must say, though, that Matt certainly showed some raw moldable talent. Given his young age and maturity, he has a long future in MMA if he remains focused and enthusiastic.

I was obviously stoked for Richie. He was my roomie in the house, and we were great mates. It’s great to see a truly dedicated friend earn a win and take another step towards achieving their dreams. Spirits were high, and I couldn’t have been happier for my bearded brother.

It was time for Kyle Noke to announce the next fight, and it was one that we were all excited about: Daniel Kelly against Sheldon Westcott. Kelly is a four-time Olympian and one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met. I think all the guys on our team, along with the coaches, were just glad he got to finally attack a Canadian and not us! For all the chat I throw at Kelly, he is a guy I truly look up to and respect as an athlete. I think we all learned a lot from his tenacity and competitive mindset during our time in the house, and even though he wasn’t such a fan of my sing-alongs on the bus or my quest to bring love and positivity to the world, I can’t help but like Kelly.

I’ll tell you more about this enigmatic cyborg who could throw a silverback gorilla on its head next week. Stay tuned.

Until then, keep Badgin’!

Brendan “Badger” O’Reilly would like to thank his cult-like supporters, his sponsors Mass Nutrition Chermside, Sports Master Athletics, Harris Stability Systems, Battlebeard Athletica and gyms Gamebred Combat Club, Alliance Jiu Jitsu Brisbane and Fortitude Boxing. 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.