The inaugural The Ultimate Fighter: "Nations" contracts were awarded at the show's Finale last night (Weds., April 16, 2014) from Colisee Pepsi in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
The finals featured an all-Canada line up after each fighter from coach Kyle Noke's Team Australia was eliminated.
Impressive knockout striker Chad Laprise took on touted grappler Olivier Aubin-Mercier for the welterweight title. It turned out to be an exciting affair that saw Laprise run the table as Team Canada coach Patrick Cote's first pick. Aubin-Mercier proved a game opponent, but ultimately appeared tired after each of his previous bouts ended in less than one round.
At middleweight, undefeated Elias Theodorou faced hard-nosed grappler Sheldon Westcott. While Westcott showed the aggressive style that got him to the finals, that was exactly what Theodorou was hoping he would do. "Spartan" kept his record spotless with a thoroughly cool and calculating second round finish.
Let's take a look back at how Laprise and Theodorou etched their names into TUF history last night.
Chad Laprise vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier:
Laprise showed a ton of movement in the first, snapping low kicks to his opponent's lead leg. Aubin-Mercier missed on a takedown and ate a cracking right hand. Laprise followed with a short punch on the inside and a head kick. "Disciple" sprawled out a takedown and made Aubin-Mercier pay with a combo. Aubin-Mercier finally mounted some offense with a body kick, but Laprise closed out the first with a hard knee and a few hooks.
The second round featured Laprise landing more punches as Aubin-Mercier went into unknown waters. He didn't have an answer for Laprise's movement and speed, but he finally scored a coveted double leg takedown. Laprise got up to unleash a huge body shot. Aubin-Mercier landed more kicks to the body and a left hand. Laprise's angles clearly had Aubin-Mercier guessing as "Disciple" landed a right over the top. Laprise landed more varied strikes as the bell sounded.
Aubin-Mercier missed another takedown to start the third. Laprise went for a low kick, but this time Aubin-Mercier capitalized by securing a takedown. Laprise quickly got back to his feet but absorbed another body kick. Laprise was fresh deep into the third round, exhibiting great movement. Aubin-Mercier scored a good uppercut, but it wasn't enough. Laprise landed a solid rush in the final seconds.
Aubin-Mercier appeared to gas as the fight wore down, losing a clear-cut decision that was somehow ruled a split.
Laprise looked incredibly effective in all facets of the game. He recovered from takedowns well and his striking game was some of the most fluid we've ever seen from a TUF combatant. "Disciple" announced that he would take fights at welterweight or his natural weight class of lightweight.
He could immediately contend with some of the fighters towards the lower end of the 155-pound Top 25.
Aubin-Mercier was outclassed, but he has the mat skills to give a lot of fighters problems, so he should rebound and get another shot in the Octagon.
Elias Theodorou vs. Sheldon Westcott:
Westcott came out like a freight train, something he said he was going to do. The calmer Theodorou noted in his pre-fight interviews that Westcott does this because he doesn't like to be in a fight for too long.
While the very first stage went to Westcott with a takedown and an attempt to lock on a rear-naked choke, his time in the sun wasn't destined to last long. Theodorou never panicked when Westcott had his back, reversing to land some huge punches on the ground.
Theodorou went to work with his knees, landing one to the body and two to the jaw. Westcott's takedown power was disappearing fast. A sloppy attempt at a double leg left Westcott open for some elbows to the head. Theodorou still had a ton of bounce in his step, landing a mix of sharp kicks as the first round came to its close.
In the second, Theodorou utilized angles to stay out of Westcott's range. He scored a big takedown of his won, following with another on an obviously gassed Westcott. Theodorou landed several ground shots before the fight was stood up, and Theodorou unloaded with a varied arsenal of strikes. He landed a series of big knees and yet another slam, pounding a grounded Westcott with elbows and punches until the referee stopped finally stopped the action.
Theodorou looks like a legitimate force at 185 pounds, so it will be interesting to see how the UFC books him for his first non-TUF fight. He could contend with some of the Top 2 type of fighters, but he may get a few tune-up fights first.
His striking looked dangerous and concise, while his takedowns were powerful. His best weapons are his cardio and mental toughness, aspects that could definitely lead him to great things in UFC.
Westcott was simply outclassed after exerting all of his valuable energy inside the opening minutes, a curious strategy to be sure.
He'll most likely get another chance in the Octagon. If he loses that, it'll be back down to smaller shows to get more experience under his belt. He's talented, but he needs to work on his gas tank if he wants to fight successfully at the highest levels.
Chad Laprise and Elias Theodorou earned their inaugural TUF: ‘Nations' contracts with hard-fought victories over tough competition. What's next for the surging young contenders?