Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Is this thing on?
The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia debuted Wednesday evening, giving the world its first glimpse of the latest cast of UFC hopefuls to display their talents on the hit reality television show.
But nobody cared.
Twitter was dead, the show itself was low-key and reserved compared to past seasons, and, to make matters worse, nobody was exactly clamoring for a fabricated "Canada vs. Australia" rivalry in the first place.
To do the UFC's flagship television series some justice, however, let's break down Episode 1 and check out what we're in for as the season progresses.
UFC welterweights Kyle Noke and Patrick Cote serve as the coaches for Team Australia and Team Canada, respectively, and they will each lead four welterweights and four middleweights toward the finale and the title of the ultimate fighter.
The first episode wasted no time lining up our first fight of the season.
Undefeated Australian welterweight Brendan O'Reilly was chosen to take on 19-10-1 Canadian Kajan Johnson, a fighter who oozed confidence before stepping into the cage. If you, like me, thought his 19-10-1 record looked a little shaky, know this: Johnson is 13-2-1 over his past 16 fights, and one of the two losses came to UFC welterweight standout Rory MacDonald.
That said, Johnson's confidence bordered on ridiculous, as he said before his fight with O'Reilly, "Even if I'm injured, I'm more dangerous than anybody else here."
We shall see, sir. We shall see.
And we saw.
Johnson steamrolled O'Reilly, showing that his swagger was warranted.
After getting dumped on his back early, Johnson showcased a polished, active and dangerous ground game. He first threatened with a deep heel hook that had O'Reilly wincing in pain, but the Australian escaped, and the fight returned to the feet.
O'Reilly again shot for a takedown, but Johnson sprawled and immediately took his back and finished the fight with a rear-naked choke in Round 1.
The Australian left the cage limping and defeated, cementing Johnson as an early favorite to make waves throughout the season.
For his efforts, Johnson earned a sweet pair of headphones, and Cote chose the next fight, this time between two middleweight prospects.
Elias Theodorou (Team Canada, 8-0) will take on Zein Saliba (Team Australia, 4-0).
Two undefeated records are on the line, and Saliba, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, will look to test Theodorou's ground skills early and often in hopes of securing the Aussie's first victory.
Tune in next week to see who extends their professional winning streak and who suffers their first career defeat.