Congratulations, you’ve made it to week eight of the Badger blog. It’s been a tough time for you, I’m sure, listening to my self-praise about my singing, and throwing in the odd cheap shot at Dan Kelly. Don’t worry, there’s plenty more of both to come.

Obviously, after Jake Matthews’ recent loss to Olivier Aubin-Mercier, Jake was feeling a little down and dejected. We were all behind him, and I had a good chat to him about looking at his career in the big picture. Obviously a loss is disappointing, and every high-level competitor hates to lose, but in reality he’s a very young fighter with a huge career ahead of him. There seems to be an awful lot of pressure on Jake, and I just wanted to make sure he didn’t lose sight of the fact that he’s in an amazing position for a 19-year-old.

Kelly also made a guest appearance in a motivational-speaking role and gave some really good advice that could only come from someone with as much competitive experience at an elite level as Dan has. If only he was as supportive of my music career, I’d be signed to Sony and releasing a 2014 Christmas album for the entire family to enjoy.

Sometime during that week, we’d been blessed with the arrival of Nerf guns, much to my excitement. I like to think I was the greatest marksman in the TUF house, if not the entire northern hemisphere (Richie Walsh, bring it). My morning routine quickly became a game of waking everybody up with a hailstorm of Nerf rounds from the couch downstairs. They enjoyed it almost as much as my Didgeridoo amplifier.

The two guys set to fight were Australia’s Vik Grujic and Canada’s Luke Harris. Vik was fairly well-rounded, most proficient standing, with a solid grappling game. Luke was a very accomplished grappler, a black belt in both judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, with all of his wins via submission. The game plan for Vik, therefore, was very clear: stand and land a bomb on Luke’s chin!

During one of our training sessions, it came as a massive surprise to all of team Aus when Jon Jones, the UFC light heavyweight champion, walked into the gym. He’s a teammate of Kyle Noke, and he had come to spend some time to teach us some of his tricks and generally boost morale. It worked. That sparring session was for sheep stations. Nobody wanted to look bad in front of the champ, and although nobody got out of hand, it was pretty clear that everybody in the room turned it up a notch! That evening, Jon coached our evening session, teaching us some of his trademark elbows and how to integrate them into a dynamic wrestling game. Very innovative and practical stuff!

After practice, Jon came back to the house and, along with the other coaches, joined us for a dinner we all chipped in to prepare. It was a great night, and even just chatting with him, we all learned plenty about fight preparation, nutrition and quality training. It was definitely a very awe-inspiring day, to be coached by and share a meal with somebody I thought I’d only ever watch on television.

At the weigh-ins, both guys were bang on weight, but Luke looked a lot more drawn out than Vik. Luke is a big middleweight, and I’m sure the weight cut was tough for him, given that everybody had to be prepared to fight on a moment’s notice.

Fight day arrived, and Vik was looking very focused, almost trance-like. He was the oldest guy in the house, and he knew this was a “make-or-break” opportunity. As both guys came out of their corners to fight, Luke really didn’t look as aggressive as Vik. He had almost a glazed-over look, and after Vik hit him with a couple of short punches, things looked a lot worse for Luke. The two guys locked up, and Vik ducked under to the back and executed a takedown.

I was actually quite worried, because all I’d heard about Luke was he was a grappling phenom, and although Vik’s grappling is quite good, I knew this was the one place that Luke had the best chance of victory. Much to my surprise, Luke didn’t make any moves to re-guard or improve position. I was a little confused, but barely had time to be. Vik unleashed a hailstorm of elbows on Luke’s head, knocking him out and opening a massive cut over his eye, and a slightly smaller one under it. It was over faster than anyone had expected, and Vik was obviously ecstatic.

It was a great morale boost for Team Australia to finish the quarterfinal rounds with a victory. Now it was time for the semifinal fights to be chosen and announced, and things would become a lot crazier in the house as the stakes got higher!

Tune in next week to find out who’s fighting who, and what madness ensues in the TUF house as cabin fever sets in!

Until next week, 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
Watch The Ultimate Fighter: Nations every Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1

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.