So, it’s week four of the Badger Blog. We’ve just seen Chris Indich do himself proud in a great display of toughness and determination, standing with a very technically skilled striker in Chad Laprise from Canada. He’d earned the respect of the Canadians, and the respect we already had for Indo only grew more.

Following his fight, Chris let Nordine Taleb know that we’d heard the predictions about his fight that the Canucks were making the night before. Like me, he was determined to make the Canadians understand that we were always down to fight. Nordine stated that Chris was “the Australian that all the Canadians liked the most.”

Naturally, this opened Pandora’s box, and I wanted to know on a scale of one to Indich, where I stood. Nordine didn’t want to tell me, which suggests I must be lurking somewhere down the lower end of the scale, a place reserved for the likes of Zein Saliba’s bikini briefs or Daniel Kelly’s singing of “My Way” by Frank Sinatra. I suspect it was my didgeridoo playing that had relegated me to the lower end of Nordine’s ranking system.

We were not surprised that Chris earned the respect of the Canadians, who were quick to sing his praise after the fight. However, attention soon moved to the next task at hand: the imminent fight between the Aussie wild child, Tyler Manawaroa, and Canada’s answer to G.I. Joe, Nordine. There was no love lost between these two guys, and we could tell the fight was going to be a barn-burner. Leading up to this point, I was extremely impressed by Tyler’s raw talent and natural fighting ability. He was an instinctual fighter, able to hit moves from unorthodox angles that would be sure to throw even the most experienced veteran off his game.

I suspected Nordine was every bit as tough as he seemed. He wasn’t one to openly talk himself up, but he seemed a very confident guy. In the early stages of our time in the house, there’d been a strange tension between Nordine and I—I think perhaps because we both called it exactly as we saw it and weren’t willing to back down to each other. Even considering this, I respected him for being a brutally honest guy. He seemed to be the only Canuck at that stage who’d be accountable for the things he said, instead of trying to deny it. So I had to give him the respect he deserved for that. Plus, he was pretty much Robocop, which carries a certain level of awesome as well.

Both Tyler and Nordine made weight, and as they faced off, things nearly erupted. Nordine put his fist in Tyler’s chest, and the “Wild Thing” quickly brushed it aside and got up in Nordine’s face. It was great, a good little bit of pre-fight tension got the blood of both teams pumping. I decided if things kicked off right there at the weigh-in, I’d throw a chair directly into the melee and blame Daniel Kelly. I’m only admitting this now because Kelly is thousands of miles away from me, and my chances of being judo thrown onto my head are greatly diminished.

As fight day arrived, Tyler was looking calm and collected. He certainly wasn’t fazed by the moment and looked extremely aggressive in the warm-up. It’s funny how such a fun-loving, playful teenager can turn into a beast of a man in an instant, but that is exactly what Tyler does.

As round one commenced, Nordine chipped away with a few range-finding leg kicks, whilst the “Wild Thing” gauged correct distance to land one of his giant pineapple fists on Nordine’s head. For the most part, it seemed that Nordine was landing the cleaner single shots initially, but then Tyler began to burst in with powerful blitzes, mixing up levels and angles. To close out round one, Tyler caught a kick and scored a takedown right on the bell.

Round two was where things really started to heat up. There were some good exchanges in the clinch, with both guys fighting hard for positional dominance both against the cage and out in the open. Nordine landed some telling knees in the clinch, but Tyler answered with some lovely body shots and uppercuts that sounded like a baseball bat on a beef carcass.

During that round, Tyler also threw an amazing spinning elbow that landed perfectly. The most amazing thing for us as his teammates was that we had witnessed him learn this technique off striking coach Adrian Pang only two days beforehand. This truly highlighted how much potential Tyler has a mixed martial artist. This was another close round, with good strikes landed by both guys, and it came as no surprise to me when it was announced that a third, deciding round was needed.

This was the round that would make it or break it, and both guys would not give an inch. They maintained a great pace, and although Tyler was giving me a heart attack with his hands around his knees, he still whipped out some nice punches and utilized head movement to evade a lot of shots. Nordine looked composed as he moved forward, but he was walking into some of Tyler’s unorthodox strikes. Nearing the end of the round, Nordine was successful with a takedown against the cage, and I was worried this may steal him the round. However, Tyler showed amazing heart, strength and self-belief to reverse the position and finish this telling round with some heavy strikes from mount and an attempted rear-naked choke—a very dominant way to finish any round, let alone such a pivotal one.

We all held our breath as we awaited the judges’ decision, and as Tyler’s name was announced as the winner, Team Australia went ballistic. It had been a rough start for us, with not much going to plan, but we sensed this would be the turning point we had been working so hard for. None of us had given up hope, and Tyler had fought his heart out to give us a strategic win and control of the next fight pick. Morale on Team Aus was at an all-time high, and we were ready to attack the next challenge before us.

Following the great fight, coach Kyle Noke announced the next fight: “Filthy” Richard Walsh versus Matt DesRoches.

Walshy is a very intelligent guy and smart fighter with well-rounded skills and a solid record against tough guys. What’s more is he can hit a polo ball into a highly polished Bentley better than anyone I know.

DesRoches was the quietest Canadian, kept to himself a lot. I didn’t know what to make of him, but you’ll have to tune in to the Badger Blog next week to find out what goes down when the heir to all of Sydney’s North Shore declares war against the guy from an island I couldn’t even find on the outdated globe ornament we had—Prince Edward Island, where you at!?!

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
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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.