I’m back! Week six of the Badger Blog, things are heating up in The Ultimate Fighter house. After Richie Walsh’s impressive performance last week, the Canadians were beginning to realize they had a fight on their hands. Subtle changes can be noticed in how we all interacted with each other. In a way, we were all more relaxed, but then again we were very highly strung in other ways. I guess by now some people were beginning to get a bit homesick, and tempers were shorter.

I personally loved it. I’ve never really had the luxury of having a dedicated MMA coach, let alone a team of them. All I had to do was wake up every day and work hard, and each day I could see huge improvements in my skill and execution of what we were learning. I know it would have been a lot harder for some of the other guys who had wives and kids back home, but each time I heard someone saying how they wished they were home, I deliberately focused on soaking up everything I could. From the striking, wrestling and grappling, to the conditioning and nutritional side, there was so much to take in, and I loved every second of it!

Following Rich’s victory over Matt DesRoches, it was announced that the next middleweight fight would be between Australia’s Dan Kelly and Canada’s Sheldon Westcott. Kelly was relieved to finally be fighting, as he’d been itching to get in there for weeks, and the uncertainty of when he may fight was no doubt wearing him down a little, as it was for most of the guys.

Dan is a really remarkable athlete. He’s competed in judo in four Olympic Games across a number of weight divisions, and one Commonwealth Games for wrestling. Obviously, you don’t get to that level without being a workhorse and a truly competitive human being. Kelly and I had a love/hate relationship in the house. By that I mean I loved Kelly, and Kelly hated me—or at least my singing, my foghorn, my smoothies made of snow, my urge to stand immediately behind him in the kitchen and, once again, my singing.

It’s clear that Kelly has pushed himself hard throughout his judo career, but despite the fact that hard workouts take their toll a little more, Dan never whinged. Not once. In fact, I know when I was training around him, I was driven to push myself harder and longer, because I know that Kelly expects so much from himself and those he trains alongside. I may have called Kelly out in a judo battle numerous times, with the firm knowledge that we didn’t have any gi’s at our disposal. I better stay true to my word and head down to Resilience Training Centre in Melbourne sometime soon and receive my ass whoopin’ that I so deserve. I’m coming for you, Daniel Kelly, in all my orange-belt glory!

I also suspect that Kelly is actually the Terminator. Before us both being selected on Team Australia, I cornered against Kelly twice on promotions in Australia. Both times, the fighter I was cornering was a dangerous and hard-hitting striker, and both times I saw them land their best shots directly to the chin of Kelly. You know how much Kelly cared? He didn’t. Kelly didn’t even blink, and then he went on to defeat those guys. I’m not talking about your average punch here; I’m talking a full-blown shotgun round to the head. Come to think of it, I don’t even think Kelly is human, which would explain why he’s not impressed by my angelic singing voice or my innovative art and crafts.

Sheldon seemed to be a fairly quiet, serious and professional guy. I’d seen some footage of him before coming to the house. He was an extremely physical fighter, a southpaw who seemed to favor ground-and-pound. This fight would definitely be a battle of two tough, skilled and aggressive guys. I was sure we’d have a fight on our hands, but was confident that Kelly’s grappling ability would see him take the victory.

We’d really started to hit our straps on Team Aus, and our coaches were putting us through some great training sessions. Wrestling coach Izzy Martinez pushed us through some of his trademark grinding wrestling sessions, forcing us all to grow stronger physically and mentally. Kyle Noke’s advice from week one—“Get comfortable being uncomfortable”—was a recurring theme throughout our time in the house. It was amazing, and I soaked it all up!

Sheldon and Kelly both made weight pretty easily. Kelly is a veteran at weight cuts from his judo days, so despite having a few kilos to sweat out, he didn’t make a big deal of it and got it done. At the weigh-in, Kelly donned his trademark awkward smile. It’s honestly a sight to behold, and something that needs to be witnessed live for you to truly appreciate it. It’s certainly a fresh change from the usual staredown.

After the weigh-ins, we were treated to a massive surprise: a relaxing evening eating some party food and watching the St-Pierre vs. Hendricks card. By this stage, everybody in the house was a bit banged up and tired from our intense training and fighting, so this evening off was welcome rest and relaxation. Obviously, Team Canada were all backing GSP, and I must admit he has been one of my favorite fighters for years. However, I had to get behind Hendricks, partly because I didn’t want to be cheering with the Canadian team, but mostly because Hendricks has an amazingly powerful Battlebeard.

The coaches of both teams came over to enjoy the fights with us, and all in all it was a great evening. It was kind of surreal though, watching a live UFC card whilst we were filming for the UFC. It kind of hit me pretty bluntly how far my career has progressed through sheer determination and not listening to naysayers. I’ve never really thought about it until that moment, but I guess it was a little overwhelming for a second when I realized it. I snapped out of it pretty quickly and got set to rip in to another day of hard training.

Fight day rolled around and things were as relaxed as usual. Normally it would be strange for two guys fighting each other to be so close in proximity, but by this stage in the competition I think everybody was used to it.

One thing I noticed for this fight was that Sheldon essentially sprinted to the Octagon. I was expecting a fast start from him, and I’d let Kelly know a while back that all the footage I’d seen suggested Sheldon would come out hard and fast. The fight began and, as I suspected, Sheldon pushed forward with an aggressive barrage of strikes. He secured a body lock and threw Kelly to the ground. The pace was so high initially, I was just waiting for that edge to come off Sheldon’s attack to allow Kelly to compose himself and get back in the game.

As Kelly scrambled to his feet, Sheldon again went to throw Kelly, and Dan tried to hook his leg around Sheldon’s to prevent the suplex, but to no avail. The final takedown was a mix of a suplex attempt by Sheldon and an attempted judo throw by Dan. The guys landed in a position that wasn’t extremely dominant for either guy. A kneebar was available to Dan if he was quick, but Sheldon was first to scramble on top and transition immediately into an arm triangle, which sunk deep immediately and forced Dan to tap.

It was a dominant performance by Sheldon, and I must commend him on his aggression and execution. Immediately, we could tell Dan had been injured pretty badly. He could barely walk and couldn’t return to the center of the Octagon for the final announcement.

The Canadians were being pretty vocal, which in itself wasn’t a bad thing. Our team was also excited after our wins, although we felt that some things said by a couple of members of Team Canada was out of line given the circumstances. It was pretty evident that Kelly was badly injured. Some of those guys were so focused on trying to be famous that I don’t think they even realized the serious verbal diarrhea they contracted when cameras were around. Anyway, there’s more to come from this, and you’ll hear all about it next week.

Following the fight, we had the fight announcement, which would be the final welterweight fight of the preliminary round. Australia’s Jake Matthews against Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Jake was a very talented young fighter, a hard worker and a tough competitor. For those of us training with him every day, it was easy to forget he was only 19 years old. Over our time as roommates in the house, Jake had become a good mate, almost like an annoying little brother. I was looking forward to seeing him fight and had every confidence in his ability to pull off the win. Don’t be fooled by his Justin Bieber-like appearance, Jake is a true fighter and not one to be taken lightly as an opponent.

Tune in next week when things really start to heat up in the house! This Badger doesn’t hold back!

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
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.