Note: All quotes and material were obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report through a one-on-one between Luke Harris and Bleacher Report's Riley Kontek.
Our team was surprised after Nordine Taleb's loss but, really, that’s the fight game. Someone will always win and the other will lose. Both guys put on a great fight, which I believe so far is the fight of the season. They left everything in the cage and should be proud of themselves. The fight was a razor-close decision that, in my opinion, could have gone either way. Both guys are true warriors.
It was pretty funny watching Nordine and Tyler Manawaroa do shots after the fight. Nordine definitely won that contest. The mood around the house was somewhat different now. There seemed to be a lot less tension. We got to see Nordine step into another role and help out the team.
At practice, Patrick Cote spoke to the team and gave us some good insight about training our weaknesses. He said it could have made a difference in our last fight.
I completely agree that you have to keep your main skill sets strong, but always work elements of your game that are weaker. Being predominantly a grappler, I really focus on my striking every training session, as you never know when you’re going to find a situation where you can’t take your opponent down or you meet someone more skilled in that realm.
This week's fight is Matt Desroches vs. Richard Walsh.
Matt is a great guy, but he’s very new to the sport, having only fought professionally for two years. He’s 21 years old and his record is 4-0, and this kid has a ton of potential. Matt has good footwork, heavy hands, great grip strength and an incredibly long reach (77”). He’s also a corporal in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Richard, on the other hand, is Australia’s biggest welterweight. To me, Richard seems like a very cognitive guy. He's always analyzing situations and I’m sure he does the same when training and fighting. I was pretty sure his plan was to put Matt on the cage. My hope was that Matt could use his tools and KO him in the process.
Richard is one of my favorite Aussies, but I’ve got to go with Matt in this one.
It was really interesting hearing their coaches talk about keeping the fight standing. I thought for sure Richard would want to take it to the ground. Richard talks a lot about the sacrifices he’s made to be a fighter. It’s definitely something that only fighters understand and a bond that we all share. Richard is very motivated. He talks about TUF being a proving ground, and it really is.
Looking into the fight picks for next week, I was very excited that with Matt getting a victory, it would be my turn to fight.
Our coaches wanted me to fight Dan Kelly, a matchup that I welcomed. I was willing to fight any of the Australians, but my game plan was preparing for this fight. I have a lot of respect for Dan and what he’s done in the sport of judo (four-time Olympian). It would have been an honor to fight him and I knew we had a mutual respect for one another. I knew in the back of my head that if Richard won, the Australian coaches would most likely pick either Dan or Vic Grujic to fight Sheldon [Westcott].
I really enjoyed watching Dan shake his head as Brendan O'Reilly made the fog horn. Dan is so funny and I can see why some of the young Aussies call him a grumpy old man. Too funny.
Cutting weight was interesting for this one. I’m pretty sure Matt cut water out way too early before cutting in the bath. It wasn’t much weight, but Matt had a very difficult weight cut. I'm glad Kajan [Johnson] and I were there to help him out. Fortunately, he bounced back very well and made weight like a champ. Richard also made weight.
The fight commenced, and Matt led with a front kick, then tied up against the cage. Both guys reversed positions several times and had some brief exchanges. It was a very close round and I narrowly scored it for Matt, although I admit that I may be a bit biased for my teammate.
Second round, Richard shoots and ties up Matt against the cage. Matt is winning some of the exchanges but Richard closes the distance well and gets the better of Matt in the clinch. Richard drops Matt with a stiff jab and gets a takedown. The ref breaks the action against the cage and Matt turns up the pressure, but it’s too late in this round. The second round goes to Richard.
I thought for sure there would be a third round, but there wasn’t. Richard won via unanimous decision.
I knew immediately that there was a very good chance that I wasn’t fighting next. It was pretty frustrating, as I had already cut most of the weight and was water-loading, but that’s the nature of this competition. It makes it very difficult to peak at a certain time like I have always done for my previous fights.
I loved hearing Richard saying, “Man, he was tougher than we thought.” Damn right! He’s from Tignish!
I know this is somewhat of a cliche, but I truly believe that Matt will really benefit from this experience. He’s 21 years old and has so much potential. I really believe in him.
Before walking out to fight picks, I confronted both Dan and Vic and asked who I got to fight. I just wanted to see their reaction. Pretty sure it was going to be Dan, but vs. who?
Fight picks were next and sure enough, Dan vs. Sheldon Westcott. You can probably read my lips during the picks. Damn, I wanted to fight!
**Tune in next week to hear Luke's thoughts on the continued tension between teams, more in-depth stories from the house, and his thoughts on the fight between Dan Kelly and Sheldon Westcott. Follow Luke on Twitter@HayabusaHarris and follow his gym @Hayabusa_TC.
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