Through more than 20 seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, whether it's been the standard version in the United States or international versions in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Australia or anywhere else, the coaches' challenge has become a staple of competition during the season. UFC President Dana White upped the ante long ago when he started offering up a stack of cash to the winning team who came out on top, and some of the battles between coaches have been extremely fierce over the years.
Who can forget the season five showdown between BJ Penn and Jens Pulver in the most competitive and potentially explosive game of ping-pong ever? Or what about season six when Matt Hughes had to bowl a strike to up Dana White's prize money for all the fighters, only to lose to fellow coach Matt Serra in the actual competition. Needless to say, Hughes was not happy about that loss, as he stormed out of the bowling alley.
Then there was season 14, when Michael Bisping took on Jason “Mayhem” Miller in a game of air hockey where injuries could have happened at any time, and almost did, but only after the competition was finished. During Bisping's 'victory lap,' where he celebrated on top of the table, a tumble and spill sent him crashing to the ground. Of course, last year on The Ultimate Fighter 18, there was the wall climbing adventure between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate that resulted in some Diaz-like celebrations. Let's just say Rousey was giving Tate a form of expression and it wasn't telling her that she was No. 11.
So with $20,000 up for grabs this year, how will the TUF Nations coaches fare against each other? The Canadians are up in the competition inside the Octagon, so maybe Australia's leader Kyle Noke can find a way to bring them back with a win over Patrick Cote in the upcoming challenge. No spoilers for what the coaches will be doing to win the money, but it's something very Canadian and there's no hockey involved.
With the fights starting to wind down and only two more matchups to go, the stir crazy competitors are itching for the end of the year to come. With cabin fever setting in, along with a snow day where weather was so bad the fighters couldn't even get out of the house to go train, you know things are about to go haywire. This late into the season, the pranks on TUF Nations have been pretty minimal, but everyone steps up their games in this episode with the Canadians and Australians going tit for tat to see who comes away with the unofficial best joke played on the other team.
The fight on the next episode of TUF Nations is the other half of the welterweight semifinals, pitting Olivier Aubin-Mercier against the lone Australian left at 170 pounds, Richard Walsh.
Aubin-Mercier is a powerful wrestler, who is often compared to his idol Georges St-Pierre for his stifling ground attack and powerful control when landing on top of an opponent. St-Pierre's name comes up once again this episode and it's clear Aubin-Mercier looks to the Canadian as a model for the kind of fighter and champion he hopes to become one day. Considering St-Pierre is one of the greatest UFC champions and the best Canadian mixed martial artist of all-time, it’s not a bad person to try and emulate.
Richard Walsh enters the fight with a decided advantage on the feet with a size and reach advantage over Aubin-Mercier. Walsh used a powerful clinch game to win his last fight, but this time around, knowing that Aubin-Mercier will almost certainly look to take this fight to the ground, he will want to counter by establishing his jab early and defend takedowns at every turn. Walsh is a monstrous fighter for the welterweight division, so he could get by Aubin-Mercier on strength alone, especially if the Canadian struggles to drag this fight to the mat.
Once the fight plays out, the winner will then move onto the TUF Nations Finale on April 16 to face Canadian Chad Laprise. Following the welterweight matchup this week, the entire show then hinges on the final fight in the middleweight division between Sheldon Westcott and Vik Grujic.
First things first though, as it’s the battle between Oliver Aubin-Mercier and Richard Walsh in the penultimate episode of TUF Nations: Team Canada vs. Team Australia